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Neal Brown Press Conference, Week 7: Short Bye Week

The head coach of WVU football spoke to the press recapping the game against Oklahoma and evaluating the program.

NCAA Football: Texas at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

As the second bye week of the 2019 West Virginia football season begins, head coach Neal Brown discussed candidly discussed the state of the program.

Opener

We weren’t good enough in any phase on Saturday. Credit Oklahoma, I think they’re one of the best in the country. We got an up-close look of what it will take to get to the top of this conference.

Recapping OU

Special Teams

Negatives:

  • Blocked punt. Low probability of winning if you get a punt blocked. Our protection was poor but we’ll make some changes there and get better.
  • Poor in KO return game. We blocked well, but our returners were not very good.
  • Gave up hidden yardage by not catching punts. “It doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but we lost about 20 yards by not catching punts.”

Positives:

  • Staley, three touchbacks and “our kickoff coverage unit has done a really good job.”
  • “Punt coverage team led by George Campbell really held CeeDee Lamb to only one return.”
  • “We blocked well on kickoff return, our returners just didn’t do a good enough job.”

Defense

Negatives:

  • Too many explosive plays
  • 5.2 yards per rush

Positives:

  • “We were good on third down and OU had been one of the better teams in the country.”
  • “We forced more punts than they had done and we held them below several of their averages.”

Offense

Negatives:

  • “We didn’t make enough competitive plays, 50/50 balls, one-on-ones in space.”
  • “We were better on third down.”
  • “I thought our pass protection was solid.”

Injury Updates

  • Josh Chandler will be out for about a month. “Not ready to say how many games he’ll be out. Will be out the Baylor game for sure. We’ll see how many games that will be.”
  • Keith Washington will be back for Baylor
  • Deamonte Lindsay “is going to start working this week and we are hopeful he will be back.”
  • Quondarius Qualls: “we’ll see how he progresses. I would say he would be questionable at this point.”
  • Sean Ryan is improving. Starts running this year. Will not play against Baylor, but I’m hopeful and optimistic that we’ll see him this year.
  • DraSean Miller will be updated on Monday. He’s got an appointment today. He’s starting to move more. I’m optimistic we’ll see him this year.

Bye Week

  • “Kind of a mini bye week at this point. We’ll practice tues-thursday, give them off friday. Start a normal game week Saturday. With a midweek game, Saturday will be technically a Monday.”
  • “It’s a great opportunity for us to hit the reset button. We’ve got a five-game season left.”
  • “The key is really making marked improvement as we go through the rest of this. That’s something I thought we had done since the Missouri game until the second half.
  • “The second half (of the OU game), especially the third quarter was nothing we want to be about in this program.”
  • “I thought we had a really good mindset yesterday and I think our seniors have a good mindset about finishing the right way.”
  • “We have a good number of young people that have a lot of hope and a lot of energy.”

Questions

Defensive shuffling and injuries

  • “We’re running out of bodies. The good thing is that Keith (Washington) and (Hakeem) Bailey are back to start.”
  • “NickTroy (Fortune) has shown some good things and grown in the two games he’s started, so he’ll continue to play.”
  • “At safety, we’ll be able to play Norwood there and continue our rotation.”
  • At BANDIT, a decision will be made in the next 24-48 hours.
  • “Shea Campbell, (Dylan) Tonkery, Zackh Sanwisch will probably have to get ready.”
  • “This is probably a game Jared Bartlett can be a factor in.”

Evaluating the season so far

  • “I think we haven’t been consistent in really any phase for an entire game yet. Some of that can be due to youth, some of that is due to opponents, but our consistency is not where it needs to be as a coach.
  • “Offensively, our inability to run the ball and lack of explosive plays have been our Achilles heel.”
  • Positives. “I think that some of the foundational pieces that are critical to build championship-level programs are establishing.”
  • “I think we’re playing with high effort. We’re not always playing well, but our effort has been at a high level.”
  • “We have high buy-in from the kids in the program.”
  • “OU was the first time we lost the special teams battle... but up till that point, I think that’s been a position of strength for us.”
  • “I think that you see in the young people who are playing, you seesignificant improvement.
  • “Even though the game didn’t go the way we wanted it to on Saturday, I thought those guys had some positive moments.”

Reinventing offense every week and the impact on the team

  • “What I should have said is that we’re trying to reinvent the run game.”
  • “Our pass protection, since Missouri game, has been really sound. Our QBs haven’t taken many hits since that game.”
  • “It’s really in the run game, just trying to find the right mix.”
  • “We’ve struggled and y’all have written about it, you’ve asked about it, I haven’t denied it. It’s obvious when you look at any statistic, it’ll tell you that.”
  • “That’s where we try to recreate ourselves.”
  • “We’re running the same stuff, we’re mixing up the motions, the presentation from a formation outlook.”
  • “As coaches, you’re always asking what’s enough game-planning to give yourself a good opportunity and what’s too much where the kids don’t have confidence in what you’re doing.”

Recruiting class needs

  • “We’re going to have to add a couple more DBs to the class due to attrition.”
  • “We’re going to need to add an older defensive back.”
  • “From a JUCO standpoint, we’ve got relationships that go back to their high school, and you’re going to see that when we sign junior college kids.”
  • “We’re not gonna wholesale and start signing a bunch (of JUCO players). We’re going to build through high school development and then add the right type of kid through graduate transfers or through junior college.”

What’s the QB situation for the rest of the year?

  • “Austin Kendall is our starter.”
  • “I thought he played well the first half; I thought the second half he did not perform as well as he needs to. He understands that.”
  • “I thought he handled the noise of that situation well. Having to go back and play his old team in their home stadium.”
  • “I thought he threw the ball really well... he made good decisions.
  • “In the second half, his decision-making was poor. He missed on several deep throws we needed to be competitive in the game.”

Using Trey Lowe

  • “We’ve used about every formation in the books. We’ve given defenses a lot to prepare for.”
  • Are we going to use Trey Lowe? We’ve gotta be more productive when we’re in those sets. We had a couple of pretty clear runs and didn’t get as many yards as we’d like to in those sets.”
  • “I think Trey’s getting better. It was good to get him in the game. We had hoped to use him a little bit more.”
  • “It’s going to be week-to-week how much he’s involved.”

Why Jarrett Doege traveled with the team

  • “First of all, we don’t have as many guys who are healthy to travel.”
  • “I thought it was important for him to go and be in that venue and get a feel for a Big 12 atmosphere.”
  • “We have aspirations that he can be a really good player for us and he’s going to perform in those venues.”
  • “I thought he might get us some good luck there, too.”
  • “Whether we’ll play him or not is to be determined, but we are going to take advantage of the rule.”

How Ryan Nehlen has helped the team.

  • Developing as a football coach. “Does a good job getting us ready. He stays a week ahead.”
  • “He had some good thoughts on third down… one of the thoughts he had, we sprung for a TD.”

Reason for third-quarter failures

  • “You make your own luck, honestly.”
  • “Go back and watch the Texas game, I thought that was a game we were really capable of winning. We had a couple third downs we didn’t make, a 50/50 ball we didn’t take advantage of and we didn’t take advantage of the turnover.”
  • “Defensively, we played well enough to win. Offensively, we were kinda hamstrung.”
  • “I thought the third quarter, OU overwhelmed us early. Then Ali (Jennings) makes the big catch that gets called back, then we miss on two deep balls.”
  • “Those are two opportunities to make it 35-21. I believe if we connect on those, it doesn’t away from us.”
  • “Really for the first time all year, I felt we lost our mojo.”
  • “Credit to our staff and our kids, we were able to come back from that. I thought our kids lost their way a little bit, and then things compounded.”
  • We’re going to do some things different in practice to help us come out after halftime. Things are cyclical. If you go back to NC State and Kansas, we came out and scored. You can’t sit by and assume it’s going to change, you’ve gotta do something about it.

Rhule building program.

  • Baylor is a “unique” situation.
  • “The thing about Matt is that he has not blinked. He had a plan, and it speaks to him that he chose this Baylor situation.”
  • “Now, if you look at their roster, they start eight seniors on defense and five seniors on offense.”
  • “He didn’t blink. He had a plan, attacked the plan and nothing swayed him from that plan.”
  • “He played a lot of freshman in year one and those players are highly productive now. “

Reaction of the Sooner Schooner tipping over

  • “It was a scary piece.
  • “It happened 20 yards in front of me. I was worried cause they left one person in there when they carted the deal off.”
  • “I asked the guy on the sideline what the field looked like and he said it was like someone had hit an iron shot.”
  • The delay wasn’t a big deal because of all the TV timeouts now.

On Dante Stills’ growth

“Dante is a work in progress.

“If we were going to talk about Dante Stills as a redshirt freshman, it’s different than Dante the true sophomore.”

“He’s had to be a ‘guy’ this year for the first time.”

“There are still some highs and lows. He didn’t play his best game against Texas and Iowa State. I thought he was better against OU, but not as productive.”

“Everyone wants to snap your finger and he’ll be an NFL player. I think he’ll be an NFL player, but that development piece is still there.

Can OU win the title?

“I do think this is the best team they’ve had and best opportunity they’ve had to compete and win the whole thing.”

“Their defense is better and their special teams can be elite.”

“Now, to win the thing, you gotta have things fall in the right place for you.”

Punt blocking confusion

  • “We’ve been really good on punt team, going into this game.”
  • “First problem is that when you punt 11 times, that’s going to be an issue. They’re going to get a bead on you when you punt that many times.”
  • Before halftime, “we miss-ID’d one.”
  • Second half, “for whatever reason Josh pulled it when he shouldn’t have.”
  • “I don’t want to lose track because we had one blocked and one look funny. I thought we’ve done a really good job through 6.5 games, but I feel really good about that unit.”