MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After the open week, WVU enters the second half of the regular season and prepares for a Saturday night tilt with TCU.
Head coach Neal Brown held his weekly press conference Tuesday, touching on various key points, including these:
“Productive bye week”
When the open week began, Brown said the timing was great, because his players were banged up physically and exhausted emotionally.
But after a Friday and Saturday off, Brown said his players appeared to be “refreshed mentally” when they returned to practice Sunday night.
“They had good attitudes,” Brown said. “Excited about the week.”
The head coach noted that fundamental work was a focus during open week practices. Young and inexperienced players also picked up more reps in scrimmages.
The head coach also added that every assistant headed off campus for recruiting during the idle week.
Preparing for TCU
TCU presents a unique challenge for WVU: the Horned Frogs are one of the best rushing teams in the Big 12, but they’re also among the worst at stopping the run.
When prep for this matchup began during the open week, Brown and his assistants began searching for the best ways to contain that Horned Frogs rushing attack.
“You look on tape, [how] are people having success against them defensively, what fits us? Is there something that we can add to our package in any of the three phases that we’ve seen on film that match up with what we do well,” Brown said.
When the Mountaineers have the ball, though, they might be able to exploit TCU’s run defense, even though they’ve struggled to run the ball themselves.
“That’s where we spent most of our time last week, is getting the running game on track,” Brown said. “It’s been close. We just haven’t been consistent…They’ve had some issues versus the run this year. It’s our hope that we can take advantage of that, but we’ve got to go out and execute.”
Brown noted that Tony Mathis was “better” during the open week, but still, no clear backup has emerged for WVU at running back.
What about Garrett Greene?
The backup quarterback is currently the team’s second-leading rusher, behind senior running back Leddie Brown. His skillset could help WVU exploit that struggling TCU run stop.
Neal Brown confirmed that Greene will play vs. TCU, and that there will be “opportunities” for him to aid the offense, but the head coach also indicated that Greene needs to show more growth as a passer before he’ll be considered for a larger role.
“The deal is, with Garrett — our receivers have been the most productive piece of our offense. Garrett’s got to continue in his ability to get them the ball. That’s where he’s got to show the most growth,” Neal Brown said.
Another personnel update
According to the team’s depth chart, Jackie Matthews has been moved to spear after playing at cornerback during the first half of the season. The redshirt junior came up with a huge pass breakup to seal the win over Virginia Tech and also intercepted a Spencer Rattler pass against Oklahoma.
Neal Brown thinks the position change will allow WVU to play more man-to-man coverage, and puts Matthews, who excels at blitzing, in a better position to make plays.
“Jackie has played really good football for us,” Neal Brown said. “I think he’s been one of our most consistent performers. He’s aggressive. I think that’s his most natural spot at spear.”
The head coach also confirmed that safety Scottie Young will return to the lineup for the TCU game. Young did not play against Baylor.