(Photo by WVU Athletics)
It’ll be here before we know it.
Though it feels like yesterday that Neal Brown was hired as WVU’s head football coach, he will now be going into his third season in Morgantown when things kickoff in September. The team made solid improvements on all three sides of the ball in 2020, but there is still room for growth within the program.
We have made a list of musts that Neal Brown has to accomplish in 2021 to consider it a successful season.
Here is the list:
- 2-0 against Maryland and Virginia Tech: If Brown wants to continue to make a good impression on Mountaineer fans, he must take down their two traditional rivals on the schedule this season. It has been quite some time since we have seen a schedule like this, so that would make the two wins even more sweet. Luckily for Brown, both Virginia Tech and Maryland appear to be down heading into 2021, so that will give him an advantage early on.
- Take down a Big 12 power: Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State are the best four teams in the Big 12 going into 2021. Unfortunately for Brown, he is 0-7 against them since beginning his time at WVU. If he wants to continue to build the Mountaineers, the time is now that he MUST take one of them down. Again, the odds are in Brown’s favor as he has three of the four at home. If 2021 is to be considered successful, Neal Brown has to find at least one W in there somewhere.
- Beat Texas Tech: The biggest mystery of the Neal Brown era so far is his 0-2 record against Texas Tech. After getting blown out by the Red Raiders in 2019, 38-17, the Mountaineers would once again lose to them in 2020, 34-27. Tech is well on their way to the Big 12 cellar, so Neal Brown absolutely CANNOT lose to them in 2021. However, considering how bad things are getting in Lubbock, I expect WVU to rout Texas Tech this season.
- Win second-straight bowl game: The biggest win for WVU in 2020, in my opinion, was the 24-21 win over Army in the Liberty Bowl. It had been nearly five years since the Mountaineers last won a bowl game, making victory that much more sweet. Now what Brown must do is build off of his postseason success. In order to keep his momentum going in Morgantown, reaching the postseason and winning is vital.
- Be in the conference title conversation in November: It seems like forever ago since WVU was in the Big 12 title conversation. Even if 2018 was only three years ago, that’s three years too many without championship excitement in Morgantown. Brown wants to create a consistent competitor in Morgantown, and having the Mountaineers’ name in the hat for the conference crown in November will be a huge step forward. If West Virginia can reach this milestone in 2021, things will get very good for WVU, very quickly.