Week two didn’t go as Neal Brown had hoped.
The coach’s West Virginia team entered its second game of the season as two-touchdown favorites and looked to give its home fans a show for the first time in the season. Four quarters and an overtime period later, those fans left a rainy Milan Puskar Stadium in disappointment.
“Not a whole lot to say there,” Brown said. “On a day that really should have been a celebration for West Virginia fans everywhere with Huggs going in the Hall of Fame, I apologize to our fans. Not good enough.”
Here is what the coach had to say after the loss:
On the defense…
There’s no doubt that WVU’s defense was off its game against Kansas.
The Jayhawk offense scored 49 points on the Mountaineers, punting just three times as it kept the WVU defense on its heels for all four quarters. Jaylon Daniels, KU’s quarterback, hurt WVU with his arm and his legs, and was the main piece that kept the Mountaineers guessing throughout the game.
“That was not good enough. That was not the way we’ve played defense here for three years,” Brown said. “They did a good job schematically, but that was not good enough.”
The game was a shootout with 97 total points scored between the two teams. It was clear, though, that WVU especially struggled to stop Kansas, as players hesitated to switch coverages and defenders missed their gap responsibilities.
“We didn’t slow them down. Early in the game, we played really soft, and that wasn’t necessarily what we had called. We played with a lack of confidence in the secondary,” Brown said.
On the slow start to the season…
WVU starts the season 0-2 for the first time under Neal Brown.
That isn’t how either the team or its fans drew it up in August, especially given the historical success WVU has had against the Jayhawks.
“I get the disappointment. We lose two games right there at the end in both games. One in overtime and one right there at the end. We’re driving to tie the game up,” Brown said. “I get the frustration. I promise you that there is no one more frustrated than me. Not that that is going to make them (the fans) feel any better, but I get their frustration.”
Brown maintained his patented optimism, however. WVU has a game against FCS Towson on Saturday before it hits the road for Lane Stadium to defend the Black Diamond Trophy against Virginia Tech.
He also appreciated the 52,188 fans that showed up and stayed through the poor weather, and made a promise.
“It’s like I told our team, we’re two games into this, and neither game was a result we wanted it to be. It’s a long year. We’re going to get better,” Brown said. “We have to get better. There’s only one way to do it. We’ll go back to work tomorrow. I get the frustration. I’ll tell you it’s not going to be lack of trying.”
On the offense…
Positively, WVU’s offense had a strong performance, scoring on its first four drives and finishing with 42 points. It punted just once in the game.
JT Daniels threw for the third-most yards in his college career and tossed for three touchdowns. The Mountaineers also combined for 146 rush yards, while rising freshman star CJ Donaldson scored two touchdowns on the ground.
“I thought we ran and threw the ball well,” Brown said. I felt really good about it even after they scored in overtime.”
Critical mistakes again killed the Mountaineers, however. A false start penalty on the goal line turned a possible touchdown into a field goal.
The game also ended on an offensive mistake, as Daniels threw across the field and was picked off to end the game in overtime.
“I didn’t see the interception,” Brown said. “My assumption is he probably missed it inside, but I haven’t seen it. I didn’t see it on the field, and then I came right here.”