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Neal Brown: Quick hits on Minnesota, thoughts on Leddie, goals for the bowl game, WVU’s progression

As West Virginia prepares to face off against Minnesota in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Dec. 28, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown discussed some quick hitters on Minnesota as a whole, goals for the bowl game, and continuing to move forward as a program.


West Virginia’s opponent in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl is Minnesota. The Golden Gophers are currently 8-4 on the season, finishing their season with two straight wins against Indiana and Wisconsin. Brown said Minnesota is a sneaky good 8-4 team who he believes should have a better record.

“When you watch them, they’re a really good football team. They’re 8-4, could easily, probably be 10-2. Their physicality and their toughness was what stands out to me,” Brown said.

Offensively, Minnesota is a run based offense built around their offensive line, Brown said. Minnesota averaged 193.8 yards per game and they had 25 touchdowns come on the ground this season.

“The strength of their football team offensively is in the offensive line. They ran the ball against everybody they played and I think that’s a testament to the offensive line,” Brown said.

As for the defensive side of the ball, Minnesota has not allowed an opponent to eclipse the 300-yard mark for their past six games, as the last time they gave up more than 300 yards was on Oct. 16 against Nebraska. In that same stretch, Minnesota has only given up 20 or more points once, and that was in a loss to Iowa.

“I don’t remember the last time I’ve played an opponent that’s gone on a stretch like that,” Brown said of Minnesota not surrendering more than 300 yards over the last six games.

Leddie Brown

Earlier this week senior running back Leddie Brown announced he would skip the bowl game and prepare for the NFL Draft. Coach Brown said Brown’s decision was a good one and said Brown has meant a ton to the program over the past two seasons.

“Leddie’s the only one,” Brown said of other potential opt-outs. “It was a decision Leddie made. I love Leddie Brown, I think he was an extremely tough competitor for us especially the last two seasons. He’s a guy that loves West Virginia, he’s passionate about this place, but I’m understanding of his decision.”

Goals for the Bowl Game

Brown said since he has become a head coach he has four goals for every bowl game his team plays in. Obviously he wants to win the game, but making it a fun experience for the players is something Brown values as well.

“We always talk about what’s out goals for the game,” Brown said. “Number one is to win the game. Number two is to make it an enjoyable and memorable experience. The third thing is to salute our senior class as they leave the program [and] make sure we honor them in the right way. The fourth thing is to build momentum for the next season.”

Teams Progression

Earlier in the season, West Virginia was 2-4 and needed to win four of their last six games to become bowl eligible. Six games later, West Virginia won four games and now are set to play in a bowl game in 11 days. Brown said the way his team has responded he is commendable.

“I think it’s been an up and down year, I think I’ve been pretty honest about that,” Brown said. “We were sitting 2-4 during the bye week and we rally to win four of our last six and two in a row to become bowl eligible.”

In addition to his team getting better throughout the season, Brown says the amount of extra time his developmental guys are able to get during this bowl practice period is valuable to their progression in getting better.

Brown has what he calls “Monday Night Football” where he has all of the practice squad players participate in a scrimmage and due to the extra bowl practices, those guys are able to practice and scrimmage an extra amount of time.

“When we get into this time we try to get anywhere between seven and 10 days of where we play Monday Night Football,” Brown said. “But also if you add all that football time… it really is almost of equivalent to having another spring practice,” Brown said of his developmental group being able to play more during bowl prep.

West Virginia and Minnesota are set to kickoff at 10:15 p.m. on Dec. 28 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona.

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