MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Neal Brown’s WVU football team was just yards away from pulling off an upset of No. 7 TCU.
That potential victory would have been the high mark of an otherwise roller-coaster season for the Mountaineers. Instead, WVU was left disappointed as the Horned Frogs held off the Mountaineers 41-31.
Here’s what the head coach had to say after the loss:
On WVU’s effort…
While WVU didn’t get the win, Brown made no qualms about how he felt his team played the game.
“These guys played their tails off, and they played the game the right way,” Brown said. “I think some people question that, like late in the game last week. There’s no question in that today [about] competing until the final play.”
On the health status of his players…
The Mountaineers were missing several starters ahead of this game, including both of their offensive guards. Unfortunately for them, it appears that the injured list only got longer throughout the course of the game.
“We’re beat up. We were beat up pretty good coming in,” Brown said. “A lot of guys didn’t play, and we lost several more during the course of the game. It was next man up.”
Most notably, CJ Donaldson was forced to leave the game twice, once in the first half and again in the second. The freshman tailback, who ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, initially returned to the game after his first setback, but Brown said he sustained a “lower leg” injury in the second half.
“He’s not good,” Brown said. “He’s got a lower leg injury and we’ll see, but I don’t think it’s going to be good.”
Brown added that he expects guard Doug Nester to be back this season after missing Saturday’s game, but he does not know the status of James Gmiter.
On the attempted fourth down conversion in the third quarter…
WVU had the chance to take the lead in the third quarter when the Mountaineers drove the ball inside the TCU four yard line while down four points.
On third down, JT Daniels dropped back and attempted to connect with Bryce Ford-Wheaton on the left side of the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete. That wasn’t exactly what Brown and Graham Harrell had drawn up for that situation, as the coach said Daniels checked the play at the line.
“The third down was supposed to be a run. We were going for it on fourth down right there. That was our mentality going into the game. We knew we had to score touchdowns to win.”
The Mountaineers then tried to score on the right side with a corner fade to Kaden Prather. The sophomore wide receiver took some contact from TCU defensive back Trevius Hodges-Tomlinson, but the officials let the play go for an incomplete pass.
Brown wasn’t very happy with the no-call.
“I thought that was pass interference,” Brown said. “I’ll watch it on tape, and I’ll still think it was pass interference because it was right in front of my face. I’m just real confused about what it is.”
On the onside kick…
The Mountaineers made a late push in the fourth quarter after JT Daniels found Reese Smith in the end zone with just over four minutes left to cut the deficit to three. Brown was aggressive after that, calling an onside kick that was unsuccessful.
WVU’s defense was playing well, but given the situation at that time, Brown felt the onside was the right call.
“We had three timeouts, and we felt really good about that,” Brown said. “We ran the counter off the one we ran against Texas. It just wasn’t a good kick, but I would play that the same way again.”
WVU nearly recovered an onside against Texas, but Kaden Prather was unable to come up with the loose ball.
“Casey Legg is one of the best onside kickers,” Brown said. “If you came to practice, you’d know that is the least successful I’ve ever seen from him, but he’s the best I’ve ever seen.”