Thursday, March 23, 2023

Another Loss on Neal Brown and West Virginia’s Weak Media

Morgantown, West Virginia - Neal Brown said it best: "I thought our guys played their tails off, I really do...and really, today was on me." In what was the most disappointing of West Virginia's three losses this season, the Mountaineers had every opportunity in the world to go into Austin, Texas and beat the Texas Longhorns. However, Neal Brown's baffling play calling once again made it impossible for West Virginia to overcome horrendous officiating and an experienced Texas team. In the Big 12 Conference, you don’t leave it up to the officials on the road, especially at Texas, and this is precisely what Neal Brown’s brutal play calls did today. Brown continues to be too cautious, too conservative, too predictable, particularly on 3rd down, to win big games on the road.  I personally don't mind Brown's decision to go for it instead of kicking field goals in the 4th quarter.  Rather, the issue lies with Brown's lack of creativity on key 3rd downs. In Brown's post game, how could our weak, cowardly media members not question Brown about his play calls?  Not one question was asked about Brown's thought process on the third downs where he decided to run draw plays rather than attempting to actually get a first down. No one in the West Virginia media wants to hurt the feelings of Neal Brown or Bob Huggins, and this is precisely why all of their post game press conferences sound exactly the same, particularly after a loss. Like Huggins who blames losses on "players not making shots, not getting to the ball, etc.", Brown has a list of reasons for not winning in his back pocket that have no real ties to the specific game.  "We didn't make plays.  We had a few bad breaks.  We didn't coach well enough."  But he never addresses precisely why the team lost. They lost because he doesn't value keeping the ball and he's far too comfortable punting the ball away.  You simply cannot continue to accept giving the ball back to the other team in the Big 12. The difference in this game - other than the horrendous officiating - was that Texas threw the ball down field on 3rd and long, while the Mountaineers continued to run draw plays and screens that had no chance of getting the first down. Neal Brown is right.  This game is on him.  But is anything going to change because of it?  Will he not continue to make such head-scratching calls on 3rd downs?  This has been an ongoing problem all season.  If the West Virginia media continues to give Neal Brown a pass, nothing will change and nothing will improve. The media has power.  Unfortunately, West Virginia's media is so weak, so frail, so simple-minded that no real changes ever happen.

WVU Vs TCU Series History

We first played TCU in the Bluebonnet Bowl of 1984 on New Years Eve. We handily won that contest by a score of 31-14. We are currently ahead in the series 5-4 and we've won two in a row. We lost to the Horned Frogs at home in our inaugural year in the XII by 1 point, 38-39. Shockingly we beat them by a FG 30-27, in our terrible year of 2013. TCU then won two in a row by scores of 30-31 and 10-40 in 2014 and 2015 respectively. WVU then came back home in Morgantown to get revenge 34-10 before the Purple Frogs beat us one last time 24-31 in 2017. Bringing us to the present, we won our two in a row in 2018 and 2019 by scores of 47-10 and 20-17. WVU is easily ahead in both All Time Wins (761-505-45 to 658-557-57) and Overall Winning % (.598-.540). We've been to more Bowl games (37-34) but they have the better Bowl Record (15-22 to 17-16-1). TCU actually has two National Championships to our zero and 18 Conference Titles to our 15. They have 1 Heisman winner to our zero and 18 All Americans to our 11. The Horned Frogs have 202 Draft Picks to our 196 and 17 1st round Picks to our 12. WVU wins in overall weeks in the AP Poll at 306 (28th overall) to TCU's 243 (38th). Hopefully we can extend our winning streak against the Frogs to three and position ourselves to go Bowling at season's end.

Oklahoma Defender Implies Sooners Have Best Defense in the Big 12 Ronnie Perkins, a defensive end for the Oklahoma Sooners, gave a hot take following his team’s 41-13 win over Oklahoma State. “Defense runs through Oklahoma in the Big 12 too now. Offense and defense.” Yes, Perkins may have been feeling good following the win, but this is nothing more than an emotion driven statement. If Perkins were to actually do his homework, he would see that the Sooners’ next opponent actually has the best defense in the Big 12. I hate to be the one to break the news to him, but defense runs through Morgantown in the Big 12, sir. And your Sooners will learn that the hard way this Saturday.

Brown’s Denial Left More Questions Than Answers

Morgantown, West Virginia - When Neal Brown finally answered the question about his alleged interest in the South Carolina head coaching position, he said the following: "I guess it's good because it means people are paying attention, they are thinking we're doing something right.  I guess it's positive from that matter.  Several people told me that yesterday.  I haven't been real active on social media other than promoting my wife on whatever Instagram Live is.  I'm trying to figure out what that is." Brown isn't stupid.  He isn't some aw shucks character like he portrays.  He's a multi-millionaire and the head coach of the most important sports team in the state of West Virginia. Brown continued: "I'm not a candidate there.  I really don't go about addressing every rumor or anything like that that's out there because I think you'll spin yourself in a web because I don't think there's anyway to keep up.  It's pretty simple.  I'm not a candidate there." Let's start with this:  "I really don't go about addressing every rumor or anything like that that's out there because I think you'll spin yourself in a web because I don't think there's anyway to keep up." Huh?   Of course you can keep up!  There's not that many job openings that a coach like Brown will be mentioned in each year.  Let's say that there are five openings that are better than the West Virginia job each year and Brown is mentioned as a possible candidate for 3 of those openings.  That's unlikely but for argument's sake we'll use a higher number.  Brown would simply have to say "I'm not interested in that position" three times per year.  That's it.  That's not a "web" and that's not "impossible to keep up with."  The only web being created is by Brown himself. Brown could also end any speculation by simply stating: "I'm very happy where I am and do not want to be mentioned in any vacant coaching positions."  He won't do that, of course, because this is a business and coaches are always looking for a better opportunity. Secondly, his "I'm not a candidate there" statement was incredibly vague.  Were you a candidate there?  Were you interested in this position?  Did South Carolina contact you?  Did your agent speak to you about the position?  Did you use this as a means to gain an extension or to get a raise? Brown saying "I'm not a candidate there" left far more questions than it gave answers.   Is Neal Brown in it for the long run?  Can we really trust the climb?  Or will we continue to have to deal with Brown's lack of transparency every time a job becomes available and his name is mentioned?

West Virginia Football Commit Injured in Serious Vehicle Accident

Moments ago, the father of West Virginia football commit Hammond Russell announced on social media the heartbreaking news that his son was involved in a very serious car accident today. Russell, a class of 2021 three star recruit for the Mountaineers, committed to West Virginia in April. Russell is a high school senior defensive end and is from Dublin, Ohio.  He chose to play for the Mountaineers over offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Purdue, among several others. Although details about the accident have not been made public, the photos appear to show a very serious accident with multiple people injured. Prayers for the future Mountaineer Hammond Russell and his entire family during this difficult time.  We hope that he'll fully recover and be on the field next season for the Mountaineers!

Former Mountaineer Finds New Home

(Photo by Ken Inness - WVU Athletics) Last month, WVU offensive lineman Junior Uzebu announced his intentions of transferring from the Mountaineer Football program. Today, Uzebu has officially announced that he has found his new home. In a tweet sent out this evening, Uzebu confirms he will be transferring to Vanderbilt University. “Thank you to all the schools that reached out and spoke with me over the last few weeks. After careful consideration, prayer, & speaking with my family I have come to the conclusion that the best option for me not only as an ATHLETE but as a STUDENT is to commit to Vanderbilt University!” Uzebu saw limited action in 2019, and lost the starting left tackle job to Brandon Yates after being suspended for the season opener.

Darius Stills Calls Out the Senior Bowl

(Photo by Ben Queen - USA Today)    Darius Stills has had quite the season for the Mountaineers. After finishing with 22 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and one interception, Stills was recognized as the Big 12’s Defensive Lineman of the Year. However, this recognition hasn’t been enough to earn him an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January. This evening, Stills took to Twitter to voice his displeasure, and even call out the game itself. “Where my invite at? Y’all playin.” He would tag the game’s official account, as well as Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl. How Stills has been overlooked by the game is beyond me, but even Stills himself realizes how absurd it is. He will be one of the best defensive talents in this year’s draft, and certainly deserves the opportunity to showcase his skills on one of the biggest stages.

BREAKING: Darius Stills Named First Team All-American, Tykee Smith Third Team

(Photo by WVU Athletics) Darius Stills, who had an outstanding senior season for the Mountaineers, was named a First Team All-American moments ago by the Associated Press, per WVU. Stills was solid for the Mountaineers all season long, tallying 22 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and an interception. Sophomore defensive back Tykee Smith also received recognition, being named Third Team All-American by the Associated Press.   Smith was one of the highest graded defensive backs in the nation, per Pro Football Focus, and finished with 61 tackles and 2 interceptions.

I Still Have Faith in Doege

(Photo by Brian Bahr - Getty Images)    It will be the talk of Morgantown for the next nine months - is Jarret Doege still the guy for the Mountaineers? After the Bowling Green transfer was benched during the second half of the Liberty Bowl, many now believe that we could have seen the last of his days as WVU’s starting quarterback. While anything is possible and one of the youngsters on the roster could take his place, my faith is still in Doege moving forward. Yes, I know, this isn’t the most popular opinion, but hear me out. With Austin Kendall’s departure, Doege is now the only quarterback on WVU’s roster with any kind of experience. Greene has yet to play meaningful football at the collegiate level, and Crowder will be a young face that has yet to go against FBS competition. Doege also hasn’t done anything that calls for him to lose his job. He finished the year with a solid TD-INT ratio (14-4), and led the team to a winning record (6-4). He wasn’t always the most flashy, but he got the job done. Sure, he struggled in the bowl game, but that was against a solid Army defense. With him behind center, the team is in the safest hands at signal caller it could be in. Fans will debate the quarterback position all offseason, but the argument against Doege simply isn’t strong enough at this point in time. I believe Neal Brown will do what is best for his team, and I fully expect him to go with the experienced hand here.

Karl Joseph Plays in Important Divisional Round Game Today

(Photo by Ben Queen - USA Today)    Today, Karl Joseph and the upstart Cleveland Browns play in the NFL’s Divisional Round against Patrick Mahomes and the electric Kansas City Chiefs. After finishing the year with an 11-5 record, the Browns were able to knock off the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round last week, 48-37. The Chiefs are coming off of a bye week, as they finished the year with a 14-2 record and the number one overall seed in the AFC. Joseph is in his first season with the Browns, after spending his first four seasons in the league with the Raiders. He was selected 14th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. During his time with the Raiders, Joseph never experienced a playoff run past the first round. Compiling a 12-4 record in 2016, the Raiders were knocked out by the Houston Texans, 27-14, after Derek Carr was ruled out for the season prior to the contest. Tune-in to cheer on Joseph and the Browns today. The game kicks off at 3:05 p.m. and will broadcast on CBS.

“I Wish Neal Had More Time”

Morgantown, West Virginia - Darnell Wright just made an incredible statement on social media before quickly deleting it. “I wish Neal (Brown) would have had more time.  It would have been iconic.” Wright is clearly referring to Neal Brown’s last-ditch effort to lure him to Morgantown after former head coach Dana Holgorsen somehow ignored the best recruit in the state of West Virginia in over a decade. Thanks, Dana.

Why I Expect Neal Brown to Commit to Jarret Doege, Sooner Than Expected

(Photo by Ben Queen - USA Today)  It is the question on everyone’s minds - who will be WVU’s quarterback in 2021? While many fans are clamoring for Garrett Greene to get his opportunity, it is my belief that those individuals will have to wait before they see their wishes come to fruition. Despite the Bowling Green transfer being benched during the 24-21 win over Army in the Liberty Bowl, I expect Neal Brown to commit to Jarret Doege as his quarterback for 2021, sooner rather than later. No, I have absolutely no knowledge on the situation, but this is the conclusion I come to after observing what Brown had to say during his press conferences all season, particularly after the Liberty Bowl. When Brown was asked about his decision to switch to Austin Kendall in the second half, he stated that it came from three people, quarterbacks coach Sean Raegan, offensive coordinator Gerad Parker, and himself. The reason behind the switch in the second half was due to Doege “not seeing it” against Army’s defense, which was ranked as one of the best units in the nation coming into the contest. However, what Brown would say about Doege himself gives me the impression that he has full confidence in him. Though he struggled against Army, Brown came out and praised Doege’s overall 2020 season, saying that he had played “very, very well” for the entire campaign.   It is because of this comment that I believe Brown is going into the off-season with the decision already made on his quarterback. Coming out and publicly stating that he was pleased with his overall play gives me no indication, as a fan at least, that he has any ideas for a quarterback competition in mind. Whenever it is that Brown will speak to the media for the first time this spring, I expect him to be quick to commit to Doege. This will be a question that undoubtedly comes up, and Brown will likely give a fair and simple answer, officially coming out with the decision that he will continue to ride with him most experienced signal-caller moving forward.

The Baddest Man in Morgantown Has a Birthday Today

(Photo by WVU Athletics)    Today, WVU star running back Leddie Brown celebrates another trip around the sun.   Be sure to wish Leddie a very happy birthday on Twitter and other social media sites! Let’s Go Mountaineers     

Mountaineers Get ANOTHER Talented Defender

Morgantown, West Virginia - Neal Brown said that he was going to go out and get some help in the secondary and today, he took the first steps towards replacing key losses by adding two talented defensive players. First, Charles Woods, a transfer from Illinois State committed, and now, Tyrin Woodby, a 6'1 170 pound cornerback/athlete, announced on his personal social media account moments ago that he has also committed to play for the West Virginia Mountaineers! Woodby, a 2022 recruit, is from Baltimore, Maryland, is a three star recruit and had offers from Boston College, Marshall, Maryland, among many others. Welcome Home, Tyrin!  

This New PFF List Will Hurt the Hearts of WVU Fans

Well, this is just a bummer.   Tykee Smith, who recently departed the Mountaineers for Georgia, was rated the best returning safety in College Football this afternoon by Pro Football Focus. Smith was constantly graded as one of the best safeties in the game last season by the site, so this should come as no surprise to anyone.   What this will do though is hurt the hearts of WVU fans. We had one of the best players in the nation on our roster, and he simply walked away. No hard feelings toward Smith, he's a great player who made the right decision for himself, but damn, it's such a what could have been.   During his two seasons in Morgantown, Smith finished with 111 tackles including 10.5 for loss and one sack. He also nabbed four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown against Iowa State in 2019.