MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Despite WVU’s off week, head football coach Neal Brown met with the media Monday to detail the process of WVU’s shortened idle week, as well as to provide updates on his players following the TCU game.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Brown’s weekly availability:
The third phase
Kudos can be given to WVU’s defense for forcing four straight punts in the second half against TCU, but the WVU special teams unit kept six Horned Frog points off the board.
“I really feel like we won the game because of special teams,” Brown said. “I think the positives [are] obviously, we had two blocked field goals. Our field goal block unit has really done well all year. And you’ve all heard me say this a couple weeks in a row, we ]were] really close to blocking one. Well, we went and got two, which was huge.”
Defensive linemen Mike Lockhart and Sean Martin were credited with the blocks. Wide receiver Preston Fox returned two punts for a total of 32 yards. Kicker Michael Hayes made a 49-yard field goal that proved to be the game winner, and punter Oliver Straw averaged 46 yards on five punts, three of which were downed inside the 20-yard line.
Opportunities left on the board
Wins come in many forms, and a three-point win on the road as an underdog is surely satisfying, but Brown believes it didn’t need to be that close.
“We had six missed opportunities,” he said. “One ball that went on the ground that we didn’t recover, and then we dropped five interceptions. Two of them would’ve been good plays. Three of them hit us right in the chest, and it’s not very often in games where you can get away with those.”
On offense, WVU turned the ball over on downs twice in TCU territory, including after one fourth-and-goal from the TCU 2-yard line.
For the first time this season, the WVU football team received votes in the national polls. The Mountaineers received five votes in the AP Poll, and six votes in the coaches poll, including one from Brown himself.
Still, he believes they should’ve already cracked the top-25.
“I think our league is under-appreciated,” Brown said, “Some of that is because we didn’t take care of business in the [non-conference season] like we should have…Taken who we’ve played I do think we’re one of the top-25 teams.”
The Mountaineers have been an underdog in the conference ever since they were voted to finish last in the conference in the Big 12 Preseason Poll, so this does not come as a surprise to Brown and the rest of the program.
“We’ve kind of been under-appreciated and not respected the whole time, but this kind of falls in line,” he said. “So we’ll have a couple more opportunities.”