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Neal Brown Press Conference, Week 5: Big game mentality

The head coach of WVU stood in front of the media to answer questions.

West Virginia v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

West Virginia football head coach Neal Brown addressed the media in his fifth weekly press conference of the 2019 season. As his team prepares for Texas, Brown downplayed the idea that this is a “big game,” stating that all games are vital as the conference slate ensues. Here are more highlights:


  • The bye week was productive. A good mix of getting our developmental guys some much-needed work while keeping our guys who have been playing a lot in shape while getting the rest and rehabilitation they need.
  • In a scrimmage situation, we let our developmental guys go three days last week.

Players of the Week:

  • QB- Jarret Doege - a guy I’m really excited about.
  • WR - Isiah Esdale - playing time increased against Kansas and I think you’ll see more of him in the future
  • LB - Jared Bartlett - we’re excited about him as he continues to gain weight an grow
  • DT Jalen Thornton
  • Safety - Tykee Smith - got a lot of reps last week and I thought that was big for him.

Looking at Texas

  • Very impressive team. They’ve done a really good job of recruiting.
  • One of the top 10 special teams in terms of efficiency in the country. They’ve returned a kickoff for a touchdown, so they’re a threat in that aspect.
  • One of the best offenses in the country. They’ve got big numbers. It starts with Ehlinger, their quarterback. I think he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate. He’s special, a tough kid, and he’s improved his passing ability. I think his personality is what that team has taken. He’s a tough guys, he’s a winner. By watching him, he loves everything Texas represents.
  • Colin Johnson, it sounds like he’ll be back this week. He’s won a lot of one-on-ones and he’s a really good player. Their OL is playing at a high level.
  • Defensively is based out of a 3-down front. Very heavy, all 290 and bigger. They play a lot of guys. I know they’ve had some injuries there. I can’t tell when they play their ones or twos. They’ve played some really good offenses during their season.

Homecoming Game

  • It’s a big game, obviously it’s. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. We’re going to need our crowd, we’re going to need our students. The home-field advantage is going to be big for us.
  • 50th anniversary of the Peach Bowl team. Looking forward to meeting some of those guys Friday night.


How Texas Uses Ehlinger:

  • They’ve got a good mix of the QB run game and taking shots down field.
  • I think they’re the best offense we’ll have played.
  • I don’t think they’re much different, in terms of the types of plays they run, from the other spread offenses we’ve played, but they’re more efficient.

How Texas Will Replace Injured Starters on Defense:

  • They’re so talented on defense. They’ve played a bunch of guys, even when they were healthy.
  • I know this, when we line up and play, they’re going to be really good guys in the secondary. Who they’re going to be, I don’t know, but they’re going to be talented.

Will WVU Use RPO or Deception Against an Inexperienced Texas Secondary?

  • It’s inexperience vs. inexperience. We’re going to do what we’ve done the past several weeks, and that’s put our guys in the best positions to win.

On the Threat of Mobile QBs:

  • We’ve played a couple so far this year. They put you in a bind because you have to cover everyone because they throw the ball well enough but if it breaks down, they can make a big play.
  • You’re not necessarily going to shut them down, but you’ve gotta limit the explosive plays.

The Need for Explosive Plays Against Texas:

  • It comes down to one-on-ones, we’ve gotta be able to make guys miss in the open field. When you’re playing this type of offense that can score a bunch of points, you’ve gotta make some big plays.
  • That doesn’t mean throwing the ball 50 yards down the field, it’s about making guys miss or breaking a tackle.
  • That was something we emphasized during the bye week… running after the catch and breaking tackles.

Why Devin Duvernay Is so Effective:

  • He’s a guy who’s been in the program for a while.
  • He’s really heady and they move him around in a bunch of different spots. He does a good job of settling into his zones and running away from man coverage.
  • They’ve done a good job of getting him the ball, even when a lot of their guys were injured.

The Big Game Against Texas:

  • At this point, week in, week out, we’re going to have big games playing quality opponents.
  • In our month of October, we’re going to play some really good football teams.

Austin Kendall Using RPO:

  • I think the last two weeks, he’s pulled a couple. Probably better against NC State than against KU.
  • To prevent teams from loading the box, you’ve gotta be able to run the ball with the QB or get the ball outside.
  • When you make throws in the RPO game, they can’t crowd the box because they have to cover you and play multiple safeties.

Combatting UT’s size

  • It’s not something you talk about a lot. It is what it is.
  • They’ve got good size and they’ve recruited really well. Texas high school football is some of the best in the country.
  • I think that not only are they heavy, they’re long; I think the length causes more problems than their girth.

Playing Catch up in Recruiting:

  • I think 2021 will be our first real recruiting class where we’re not playing catchup.
  • Recruiting is a two-year period. I think the 21 class will be the first one that we’ll have gone though the whole time with them.
  • The 2020 class, the guys we have committed, I really like them.
  • We’ve got a ton of 21 kids coming to this game, and that’s one reason the atmosphere.

California Law Allowing College Athletes to Receive Payment for Their Likeness:

  • I really don’t have an opinion on it. I just want to know the rules. Tell me the rules and I’ll abide by them. I’m not into making legislation. I’m more interested in us making first downs.
  • I know some of y’all have some things to say on Twitter.
  • I’m not educated enough on the bill to talk about it.

Competitive Mentality Coming out of the Bye Week

  • I don’t think we’ll have any problem trying to motivate them to get ready to play.
  • For most of our guys, this is going to be their first real action against Texas.
  • In the Big 12, this is a big one cause it’s the one we play this week.

Fan Rivalry vs. Texas

  • I get the feeling of that, I’m not sure why.
  • I haven’t played in the game, but I do feel like this is one our fans are excited about and one they talk about in the offseason.

Tip-offs on 3- or 4-down linemen:

  • They’ve got a rover, Nos. 19 and 25 both play it, and it’s kind of a hybrid position.
  • They play nickel, they play safety, they can rush off the edge. Both of those guys are really good players.

Hakeem Butler’s Improvement:

  • I think he’s playing with a lot more confidence and I think he’s faster this year.
  • He didn’t prepare as well for Kansas, but I like the way he’s approached special teams and approached defense.
  • He’s become a mental leader on that side of the ball.

Recycling Receiver Corps

  • What we did during two-a-days was rotate the receivers with the QBs, so Austin got a ton of work throwing to all of the guys on the two-deep roster.

On the Horns Down Penalty:

  • Are still talking about that?
  • To me, it’s much ado about nothing. I’d rather build up West Virginia than tear anyone else down.