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Physicality, a focal​ point for the Mountaineers moving forward

Following a disappointing 31-7 loss to Missouri, the West Virginia football staff delivered a powerful speech to the media, with the same themes seeming to come up by every coach. Words like courage, inspired, and physicality continued to be brought up by the coaches. Themes that the staff collectively agreed were missing from last weekend’s loss, which included five missed sacks, and twenty-two missed tackles overall.

Although admittedly traits like courage cannot be taught, the coaching staff has worked all season to preach physicality to the team, and even more so as they prepare for a tough opponent in 2-0 NC State.

“You’ve got to keep dragging it out on them. You gotta keep pushing them. Just talking to them about being more physical. When you’re out there on the practice field, demand it from them. That’s what we’ve got to continue to do, (just) demand that physicality from them. Those plays that were made last year aren’t just going to happen. There’s a reason that those guys made plays last year, its because they worked hard. Its not just going to happen because it did last year,” said offensive coordinator Matt Moore.”

Dylan Tonkery recovers a fumble in the Mountaineers week 1 victory over JMU on August 31st 2019
Photo Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Although physicality is a word that can be preached by any college coach, it may be most important during the 2019 season with such an inexperienced offensive line looking for an edge. And in the five missed sacks on the West Virginia defense last weekend, three of those ended up being turned into touchdowns, swinging the game into a lopsided affair. 

Preparing for an undefeated NC State team with a veteran offensive line that have allowed just forty-nine rushing yards in two games without a touchdown allowed, the task that sits in front of them is going to be a challenge, but not one that will get any easier as the team heads into conference play. 

“You’ve got to be relentless. You’ve got to be tough. It’s a fight. If you’re not willing to fight and go to a place that a little bit nuts, and a little bit crazy, then your not going to be able to play this game. We had to many people that didn’t go to that place, nice guys,” said defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. 

After the disappointing loss to Mizzou, it was announced during the week of practice that some of the younger players on the team will receive playing time, including true freshman Winston Wright and Ali Jennings. Neal Brown has made it clear over the past few days that he was disappointed in his team’s performance, but certainly not discouraged. With the personnel changes, it appears he is looking for the right group of guys that can bring the most physicality, be the most courageous, and play the most inspired, to put the team in the best position for success.

With the announcement that defensive end Taijh Alston will miss the rest of the season with a torn patellar tendon, it only increases the challenge that West Virginia will face in the coming weeks, as the team looks to make a statement after their blowout loss.

Cover Photo Credit: Ed Zurga- Getty

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