Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Notebook: Brown wants more urgency starting the season

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – One hundred and fifty-six days separate West Virginia and Pitt from the 105th edition of the Backyard Brawl in the 2022 season opener for both teams.

More specific preparation for the September 1 competition against the Panthers will only come for the Mountaineers until the preseason camp in August, although Neal Brown, the fourth-year head coach of West Virginia, wants his team already at the Thursday night game at Heinz Field focus.

“We need to have a sense of urgency,” Brown said Tuesday after his team’s fourth practice of spring football. “This is without a doubt something we talked about.”

This will be the Mountaineers’ first game with the Panthers since November 2011 when both were members of the Great East. While the opponent himself should provide plenty of motivation for West Virginia, the team’s performance should also include a 2021 season starting loss to Maryland, one in which the Mountaineers trailed 17-7 before hitting a fourth quarter of one point lost. lead and the match, 30-24.

“As a staff or as a team, we did not do a good enough job of building up to Maryland,” Brown said. “We did not play very well and therefore the result did not go our way. We are deliberate about our build up to this match. This is something we constantly mentioned when we started spring ball. This is something that will be carried over to the summer and of course to the autumn camp. We need to have a sense of urgency. In 156 days we will stand in line and play. ”

The Mountaineers are 2-1 in season opener under Brown, though none of the wins (20-13 against James Madison in 2019 and 56-10 against Eastern Kentucky in 2020) came against an FBS opponent, nonetheless one of ‘ a Power 5 Conference 11-3 season and Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.

While there is no way for WVU to repeat the atmosphere that awaits in its season opener, Brown and his staff put the grid through stressful situations through the spring in an effort to prepare them best for the regular season.

“Of course, for the most part, we do not have supporters on the honor, but we try to create these pressure situations to make sure your fundamentals maintain that pressure,” Brown said. “They did well on Saturday. Offensive, especially today, we have lost some of our fundamental training that we have been striving for. ”

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Much of the attention early in the spring practice has been centered around installing first-year offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s system.

But Harrell is not the only newcomer to the Mountaineers’ coaching staff, as Tony Washington was appointed as the team’s wide receiver coach in February. A season ago, the title belonged to co-offensive coordinator Gerad Parker, who has since moved on to coach tighthead heads at Notre Dame.

The 31-year-old Washington came from Coastal Carolina to Morgantown, where he was the Chanticleers’ wide receiver coach for two years after a one-season term as an offensive graduate assistant at Louisville.

Notebook: Brown wants more urgency starting the season
New WVU Receiving Coach Tony Washington. (Photo by Joe Brocato)

Prior to joining the coaching staff, Washington had appointments as a receiver for the Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots after a successful collegiate career at the Appalachian State.

“Tony is a very good teacher. “I like his temperament with the guys,” said Brown. “It is a different style of offense than what he was in. He was hungry to learn and that’s one of the things that really drew him here. The things I like – he’s played in the NFL and played in numerous winning programs and he’s played in various offense so he can bring ideas.

“And he was a developer. He has a guy who should be drafted at Coastal this year and they have another one coming up the pipe that should also be drafted. He proved he was recruiting wise. He was able to evaluate guys and close. There are many positives. He is learning the scheme, but I like what I see so far. ”

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As for the players with whom Washington directly works closest, the Mountaineers have an abundance of turnover at wide. The team’s second and third leading receivers – Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Sam James – return, though three of the top five receivers from a production standpoint in 2021 have chosen to transfer, including receptions and site leader Winston Wright.

Brown would like to see upcoming freshmen Kaden Prather elevate his game to become a key factor after wetting his feet like a true freshman. Reese Smith can also be relied on more. He and Prather both completed the 2021 campaign with 12 catches.

True freshmen Jarel Williams and red shirt freshmen Preston Fox, a native of Morgantown, made a strong impression on the head coach over the first week of spring practice.

“Kaden Prather had three very good days. “He took a step back today, but he is on the verge of being a special type of player,” said Brown. “Sam and Bryce were really consistent. Reese started well and then got hurt and he will miss about a week – nothing serious.

“Jarel Williams benefits from those representatives to be a young guy. Preston Fox, all he does is catch the ball. If I were to list the characteristics of a receiver, catching the football would be right up there. The child only catches the ball and he makes controversial catch shots, so it is an honor for him. “

Nation World News Desk
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