Neal Brown’s Promise
I appreciate them being here. They were here for our Mantrip at 9:30 in the morning when it was in the 20s and 30s. They were here through the first half, and in the second half a high percentage of them stayed. That does not go unnoticed.
“We’re not playing well as a football team right now. We have a ton of work to do in this program. But I’ll tell ya, this is probably going to be one of our worst days. I’ll tell you right now, we will build a successful program here. It doesn’t look like it right now.
“But because of them, and for them, we will absolutely be successful here. There are some growth pains. Nobody’s more frustrated with anything that’s going on on the football field than me. I can promise you that.
“But we have a high percentage of guys that will be back, not only for one year but three years. They will significantly get better. We’ll do a better job coaching them. And there will be a product on the field that will match the fans that we have.”
Those are the words of Neal Brown as he ended his press conference following the loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders where once against the West Virginia Mountaineers failed to score 20 points, failed to gain any sort of offensive momentum and failed to build upon their good showing against the Baylor Bears.
Brown’s promise echoes with fans because we are looking for something, anything to hang our hat on while we survive this season. It has been six years since the Mountaineers suffered through a losing season and that season, 2013, at least offered promise because of the offense. This season most fans are resigned to knowing that the current offense is incapable of keeping up and therefore, 3-9 is a real possibility.
Still, the new head coach is offering a light at the end of the tunnel. He recognizes that losing is unacceptable but at least gets “it”. In a season where “Trusting The Climb” is a bit tough for a fanbase used to at least winning games against Texas Tech and the like, having a head coach who acknowledges the struggle and promises to fix it helps soothe the struggle we all are going through.
Sam James Drops
Its tough being the sensational freshman receiver known as Sam James. When James caught that crossing pattern against NC State and made his way into the endzone, he became the unannounced number one receiver on the team. In the following weeks, James has shown the skills to be a true number one receiver but he has encountered a case of the “drops” and he’s not a player who discriminates. He dropped passes from Austin Kendall and then dropped two passes from Jarret Doege when he first entered the game.
James, to his credit, has not shied away from his responsibility in the drops, saying its a case of him not focusing and watching the ball all the way in. “Trying to get upfield too soon” he would say and this is something that almost everyone goes through. When you try to make a play you sometimes begin looking forward before finishing the present. James is aware of the problem and while it likely won’t get fixed this season, don’t be surprised to read stories this offseason of James working on his craft.
“I Wish Quarterback Was Our Problem”
Brown, to his credit, has not been one to throw any blame at his quarterback. As a player, that has to make Kendall want to run through a wall for his coach. Fans have a tendency to hear Brown lay blame on the offensive line, on the drops and on the routes and excuse any blame on the quarterback.
The head coach is right that the offensive struggles suffered by the team are not the fault of the quarterback. Switching to Jarret Doege is likely to have little effect on the outcome of the game, especially when Doege suffered two drops by his receiver, was forced to scramble because the offensive line struggled to block and I assume routes are still at times being ran incorrectly. Yet Brown made a switch and it was one he needed to make, after Kendall threw two more interceptions and underthrew three receivers that would have scored touchdowns. [Note: Despite the long completions, West Virginia did not score because it got bogged down in the redzone]. While quarterback is not our problem it was an issue. The head coach couldn’t, in good faith, continue to let Kendall go out there and struggle.
Brown also mentioned that Kendall was still dealing with an injured hand. If the injury that Kendall originally suffered against Missouri and has since dealt with over numerous games is still bothering him, then shutting him down for the season is the smart play. Let him heal. It does no one any good if he is injured and can’t perform at his full capacity. If the hand injury is a reason for his deep passing struggles, then fans need to know this.
Losing brings out the worst in everyone and especially in a fandom that is itching to prove to the world that it belongs. The Mountaineers previous regime offered a ton of promise throughout its time but each year fell short and the lack of improvement grew weary. Now, with a new head coach and complete lack of experience across the board, the team and fans are working their way through one of the toughest seasons in recent memory.
The worst part of all of this is the infighting between fans. You see it daily. Some fans just want blind homerism and positivity, while other fans are quick to point out the struggles of the team. It is a shame that this season has taken so much out of fans and I am fully guilty of it. Those who are looking for positive messages should know that everyone right now believes in the coach. It is going to take time to make this thing work and we are all aware it will take time. You can see some in the receivers becoming more of a threat. James got behind the defense consistently. Running back Tony Mathis scored his first touchdown of the season. The improvements are small but they are there.
If you are frustrated, you aren’t alone. Scoring less than 20 points a game for the past month is not something anyone is used to. I was prepared for a losing season, with the hope that maybe the backend of the schedule was worse than we would be, This season was always going to be a slog but we will see what Brown can do as he inherits a team with actual experience next season and gets to go through a full season and offseason. Then we can begin to form opinions and debate.
Didn’t think I could be more proud to be a Mountaineer, but today I am. pic.twitter.com/xPOgC6v4rL— Marc Bulger (@MarcBulger10) November 9, 2019
What did you think of the helmets?
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