Tuesday, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown sat before the media and spoke about the Kansas State game and the upcoming Oklahoma State Cowboys game. As he fielded questions from the media, two things were apparent — (1) the players in the locker room are aware of the situation that is currently unfolding with West Virginia football and (2) the coaches know that there are going to be changes and challenges forthcoming.
“I know you guys are going to want to ask a lot of questions about next week and here is how I am dealing with it with our players - I’m pretty upfront, pretty direct with them. We will deal with that when it happens”
An interesting choice of “when” — not “if” — used by the coach. A third losing season and a second non-bowl-eligible season makes next week all but a certainty. If there were any lingering hopes, they were quashed with the firing of Athletic Director Shane Lyons last week. Now, Brown and his staff have the inevitable task of trying to motivate young players for an away game and knowing they will not have much time with the players after the game.
“We will deal with it head on, but right now its about Oklahoma State and giving our guys the best chance and best opportunity to go win the game. I think you have to deal with it that way.”
Winning the game would give Brown something to hang his hat on, even if he is dismissed. West Virginia currently has a long losing streak to the Cowboys, a streak that stands at 7 games. The Mountaineers had not beaten the state of Oklahoma since 2014, but a win on Saturday would give Brown a sweep over the state of Oklahoma, something that has never happened.
“Next week is a big week in a lot of different ways but you can’t do anything about it. You finish and I think how you finish says a lot about who you are as an individual. WE fully expect as a staff and as a football team individually and collectively to finish in the right manner”
As the press conference started, Brown was asked about playing Nicco, since he mentioned Nicco last week during his press conference.
“We’ll talk about that. I think not just Nicco [Marchiol] but a lot of younger players. For outside people [fans], this is a really tough week for young football players - the season’s long, the first major holiday that they haven’t been at home. We’re allowed one game in our league to travel more players, so we’re going to travel more players [the normal rule is 70 players]. We’re going to be intentional about getting some guys that we want to redshirt but have games [4 or less], we’re going to be intentional about getting them in. Special teams, offense and defense.”
The revised redshirt rule allows a player to participate in up to four games before they “burn” their opportunity to redshirt - i.e. retain that year of eligibility. Thus far some notable names that will likely see playing time based on the comment would be:
Nicco Marchiol - 1 GP
Jarel Williams - 1 GP
Aric Burton - 1 GP
Asani Redwood - 3 GP
Trey Lathan - 3 GP
A name absent from that list is Raleigh Collins who has already played four games. Will Crowder redshirted last year and is not eligible to redshirt again.