MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU football is taking a different approach for practice this week before UCF following the Mountaineers’ loss to Oklahoma State.
Here are the biggest takeaways from head coach Neal Brown’s weekly media availability from Monday:
Lack of points off turnovers
WVU’s first two drives against Oklahoma State both ended in turnovers, and the Cowboys turned both of those takeaways into points. The Mountaineers – on the other hand – generated two turnover-quality plays (Anthony Wilson interception, OSU missed field goal), but they did not generate any points immediately after.
“I think the biggest stat from the game on Saturday, for me, was 17-0, and that was points off turnovers,” Brown said. “We created two [turnovers]: one on special teams, and one on defense, and we turned those into zero points, and they got 17.”
Wilson’s interception was also WVU’s first takeaway since the Backyard Brawl.
Emerging skill players on offense
For the second week in a row, there were silver linings on offense embedded into a gut-wrenching WVU loss. This time around, there were two, starting with junior running back Justin Johnson Jr (77 rushing yards, one score).
“Justin Johnson earned more playing time…[He] got downhill fast [and] was really decisive,” Brown said.
In the passing game, Marshall transfer wide receiver EJ Horton (79 receiving yards, one score) generated his second explosive play in as many weeks on a 32-yard scoring connection with junior Garrett Greene.
“[Horton will] continue to play,” Brown said. “He played his most snaps in a game on Saturday, and he’ll continue…You can tell [with] the reps [that] he’s getting better. He can really run. He gives us a whole different dimension when he’s out there.”
Change of pace to practice schedule
Following WVU’s first stretch of back-to-back losses all year, Brown switched up his team’s practice schedule this week with the hopes of generating some new positive mojo.
“We’d been practicing on Monday mornings, [but] we practiced [Sunday],” he said. “I just wanted to get that game out of our system. So we came in [Sunday] night and we practiced. We did our normal Monday morning practice, [but] we did it [Sunday] night, and used [Monday] as our off day.”
The Mountaineers’ failed to sustain a fourth-quarter lead for the second week in a row, and Brown wanted to correct his team’s mistakes while they were still at the front of mind.
“I wasn’t very pleased with how we finished the game, and I just didn’t want to put that much dead time in-between [the game and practice],” he said.