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West Virginia Football Bowl Game Media Day Recap

After the West Virginia football team arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, on Christmas Day for their bowl game appearance with Minnesota on Tuesday in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, head coach Neal Brown and some players talked with the media on Sunday about the upcoming matchup. 

“We’re extremely excited about being here in Phoenix and the opportunity to play a very good Minnesota football team in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, and the Fiesta bowl committee has done a tremendous job thus far showing our entire travel party what it’s like for a great bowl experience,” said Brown. 

Brown also explained his team’s upcoming opponent in a quality 8-4 Minnesota Golden Gophers football team whose defense has been holding opponents to a lowly 18.25 points per game this season. 

“A lot of respect for coach PJ Fleck and his Minnesota football program, they’ve had a tremendous year I think if you look at them defensively their stats speak for themselves, they’re in the top-10 or top-15 in numerous categories,” said Brown. “They’ve held almost every opponent under their season averages… also their ability to eliminate explosive plays.”

The head coach also talked about PJ Fleck’s offense which has rushed for an average of 193.8 yards per game on the year with 25 touchdowns also coming on the ground. A lot of the success of the running game can be credited to the Gophers offensive line which includes five All-Big Ten Honorees. 

“On offense, they want to run the football. Tanner Morgan at quarterback is a winner, if you look at his win-loss record throughout his entire career there in Minnesota he’s done a very nice job of that, being in control of the clock and they run the football and are able to hit shot plays down the field,” Brown explained. 

Brown and the Mountaineers believe what they will need to be successful in to come out on the winning end of this bowl game will be not turning the ball over which would give Minnesota less opportunities as well as getting good first down chunks on offense and limiting the Gophers on first downs. 

“I think the number one key for us is taking care of the ball offensively, we’ve got to hold onto it and I think first down on both sides is going to be key,” explained Brown. “So, I would say turnover margin and first downs.”

Senior defensive lineman Dante Stills is playing in his final bowl game as a Mountaineer and would like to fly back home a champion. To do that, Stills says he and his defensive line will need to do some different things to disrupt Minnesota’s tough offensive front. 

“On first down if they get about five to eight yards that’s a win for them, that’s a short field, our main goal is to be disruptive, use good hands, be active and don’t let them maul us off the ball,” said Stills. “Good opponent, Minnesota is a very good team, very well coached and a great competition coming up.”

West Virginia and Minnesota will kick off from Chase Field in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl on Tuesday at 10:15 p.m. ET with televising on ESPN. 

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