Neal Brown is using this bye week to find answers for his defense.
West Virginia’s offense is among the most improved units in the country. Even its lackluster yardage in its loss to Texas was just below par for its past seasons, and it still averages over 450 yards per game.
The Oct. 1 loss did maintain a running and concerning theme for the Mountaineers, however. WVU allowed its highest yardage total of the season to Texas as the defense found no answer for the talented Longhorn offense.
That loss led right into the Mountaineers’ first bye week. While the idle week is shorter than usual, it is timely for the battered WVU squad as it allows its players to recover and its coaches to figure out necessary changes before a gauntlet run in the Big 12.
These changes could include a different set of faces on defense.
“We’ve got to figure out what our best pieces are back there,” Brown said. “Are there other people we can play that we haven’t given the opportunity to yet, are there guys in the second half that deserve to play more?”
Texas quarterback Hudson Card had a near-perfect performance against WVU, throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-27 passing. He found Xavier Worthy seven times in the game for 119 yards and twice for touchdowns.
Worthy found space all over the field to slice through the defense and even threw for his first career touchdown on a trick play in the first quarter.
“The secondary piece was we just weren’t good enough,” Brown said. “Xavier Worthy is a really good player, but most of the plays he was making weren’t contested plays. That’s what the issue is.”
Brown was quick to add that the secondary wasn’t the only position group that struggled in Austin. While the defense kept the Texas rushing attack largely quiet in the contest, star tailback Bijan Robinson still ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and had some convenient runs to extend drives.
WVU didn’t help itself either, committing some inopportune penalties to keep the Texas offense on the field.
“That wasn’t just a secondary issue the other night…in the first half, we didn’t play good at any level….” Brown said. “Jasir Cox, I thought he played a good football game. I wouldn’t characterize any of our other linebackers as playing good.”