Neal Brown did something Monday morning that he has not done since taking the West Virginia football job 20 months ago. He complimented the Mountaineer ground game. WVU ran the ball 51 times for 329 yards and five touchdowns in last Saturday’s 56-10 win over Eastern Kentucky. That represents nearly one-third of WVU’s total rushing output in 2019, and nearly matched the seven rushing touchdowns it generated in 12 games last season.
During West Virginia’s first football season under head coach Neal Brown, the rushing attack was nonexistent. On Saturday against Eastern Kentucky, the Mountaineers finished the game with 329 yards rushing as a team after gaining only 879 yards total last season. Junior running backs Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield combined to rush for 246 yards on 25 carries and had four total touchdowns.
West Virginia’s 56-10 thumping of Eastern Kentucky provided insight into this season’s team, but as expected many questions remain unanswered. On this episode of “Three Guys Before The Game,” the guys provide their deep-dive into the numbers and individual performances from a most unique season opener.
West Virginia’s early season trip to the Bahamas is taking a detour to South Dakota. The Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which is typically played at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas, will reportedly now be played at the Sanford Pentagon in South Dakota. The change is presumably the result of COVID-19, although the tournament is months away. The Mountaineers will be in the tournament’s field, along with Duke, Memphis, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Utah, Creighton, and Wichita State.
West Virginia Athletics
Following her game-winning goal in the 2020 season opener, senior midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel of the West Virginia women’s soccer team has been named the WVU Student-Athlete of the Week. Ferrer-vanGinkel led the Mountaineers to a 2-0 win over Iowa State on Sunday, in Ames, Iowa, tallying the first goal on the squad’s first shot attempt of the season in the 13th minute.
The Big 12 Conference has announced TV and web stream coverage for most remaining West Virginia women’s soccer games. The Mountaineers opened the 2020 campaign with a 2-0 win at Iowa State. WVU will play its home opener this Friday against Kansas State and the game will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. The Mountaineers will have at least four additional matches steamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
Around the Big 12
Each week during the Big 12 football season, this column will provide a quick overview of where things stand around the conference. And unlike traditional standings or simple power ratings, it will use a tier format. So, after the first weekend of football for the Big 12, here is where each team stands.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger took home Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors, while first-year Texas Tech linebacker Krishon Merriweather earned the Defensive Player of the Week award. Oklahoma’s Stephen Johnson was named the Special Teams Player of the Week and OU quarterback Spencer Rattler was the conference Newcomer of the Week.
Around the NCAA
The Pac-12 Conference’s “most aggressive” return plan is currently targeting mid-to-late November, according to a source familiar with the league’s discussions. While new coronavirus testing systems will be on every campus by the end of the month, the league still expects to need a short time to train staff how to use them and ensure the proper testing protocols are in place.
West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee has apologized following the release of photos depicting him shopping in a local business without a mask on. Following backlash from the WVU and Morgantown community, Gee took to Twitter later on Sunday night to issue an apology, but no other consequences are apparent at this time. Currently, several WVU students have been placed on probation and suspension after violating COVID-19 safety precautions and guidelines.
As the West Virginia football team was preparing to host Eastern Kentucky, a group of Monongalia residents were protesting Saturday morning. The protests were about how high school kids in the Monongalia County are missing out on in-person school and the cancellation of football games. The students, coaches, and parents claimed “If They Can Play, We Can Play” in response to WVU being allowed to play despite the county being in the “red” on the state COVID map.
Marcus Smart’s defining quality as a player is his unwavering desire to win, Smart plays as hard as possible every single second he is on the court. Players like that are the ones that teams want on their side in the NBA Playoffs. The Boston Celtics may not have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals without him.
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