MORGANTOWN, W.Va – From backup quarterback play to a message to the fanbase, WVU head coach Neal Brown had plenty to say following the Mountaineers’ 17-6 win over Pitt Saturday night.
Here are the biggest takeaways from head coach Neal Brown’s postgame press conference:
A true home-field advantage
Morgantown’s first Backyard Brawl since 2011 received an overwhelming amount of hype leading up to the game, and it didn’t disappoint.
“[That was] the biggest crowd we’ve had at the Mantrip in five years,” Brown said. “I thought [the] fans were in it from the start. They made a difference. I think Pitt had nine penalties in the game [including] several procedure penalties. I think noise had a factor in that, and I think our guys fed off of it.”
The paid attendance of 61,106 was the third-largest crowd of the Brown era, and it’s the largest since the Texas game in 2019.
Marchiol’s time under the spotlight
It’s impossible to predict injuries in football, and starting quarterback Garrett Greene’s first-quarter injury (which sidelined him for the evening) put WVU in a compromised position.
“You lose you starting quarterback, who’s not only you’re starting quarterback, but he’s really kind of the heart and soul of the football team,” Brown said.
Redshirt freshman Nicco Marchiol seamlessly transitioned into the signal-calling role for the Mountaineers under center Saturday night, completing 6-of-9 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.
If Greene has to miss next week’s game, Brown is confident that Marchiol would take a leap in production should he be thrust into the starting role. He said that Marchiol only received about 25% of reps in practice this past week.
“He managed the game well,” Brown said. “We didn’t ask him to do a ton.”
A stifling defensive performance
The Mountaineers didn’t allow a single touchdown Saturday night.
“We’ve been probably fairly criticized over the last year-and-a-half that we haven’t played [well defensively],” Brown said. “Especially in the secondary, we haven’t played as well. Well, those guys go out tonight and they get three interceptions. Pitt struggled the entire game.”
Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec – who Brown called “cerebral” and well-regarded “in NFL circles” – completed 8-of-20 passes for 81 yards and three interceptions.
After allowing 67 rushing yards on the first drive, WVU allowed just 63 rushing yards the rest of the game.