MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the Mountaineers get ready to take on Baylor and try to bounce back from their first set of consecutive losses since 2019, head coach Neal Brown held his weekly press conference Tuesday.
These are the biggest takeaways from his session with reporters:
What’s the root of the problem?
Brown addressed this question without prompting, starting his opening statement with a stinging assessment of his team.
“We’re a 2-3 football team because we lack consistency. I think that’s been pretty clear,” Brown said. “At times in every game this season, we’ve played really good football in all three phases…but we have not put a whole game together.”
The Mountaineers (2-3, 0-2) have opened Big 12 play with back to back losses against Oklahoma and Texas Tech. They’ve lost both of those contests by three points. Against Oklahoma, the Mountaineers made crucial mistakes late in the game that sealed their fate, and against the Red Raiders, they couldn’t overcome a slow start and a 17-0 deficit at halftime.
All three of West Virginia’s losses this season have come by six points or fewer.
“It’s frustrating. Our fans are frustrated,” Brown said. “I get it. Nobody’s more frustrated than me.”
What’s with the slow start?
The first half against Texas Tech Saturday felt a whole lot like the first half in 2019 when the Red Raiders dominated and led 35-10 at halftime. Previously, Brown had referred to that contest as a “turning point” for his football program.
Yet in the first half Saturday, the Mountaineers played as if they hadn’t learned anything from that beatdown two years ago — the defense struggled to contain the Red Raiders, while the offense couldn’t find a groove and was held scoreless until the third quarter.
Brown reiterated that that first half performance was “inexcusable.”
“I’m so pissed about how we played at the beginning of the game,” Brown said. “In other sports, I kind of understand. You got all these games in other sports. Football you get 12. How the hell do you not get ready to play one game a week? I don’t get it. It hadn’t been an issue. We started fast every game but this one, offensively.”
West Virginia ultimately woke up, and Brown commended quarterback Jarret Doege for playing his best half of football in that second half, but still, the Mountaineers didn’t do enough to win.
For that reason, Brown promised that changes are coming this week in practices.
“You gotta acknowledge this issue, and then you gotta go to work fixing it,” Brown said. “We’re gonna be creative in some things that we’re gonna change up in how we’re gonna practice today and tomorrow.”
Looking ahead to Baylor
West Virginia will have an opportunity to rebound Saturday at noon against Baylor, a team coming off its first loss of the season, a 24-14 setback against Oklahoma State in a top-25 showdown.
After winning just two games in 2020, second-year Baylor coach Dave Aranda guided the Bears to four wins in a row to open the new campaign. Brown admits he has a ton of respect for Aranda.
“I think they’ve done a great job,” Brown said. “I think they unfairly got some flack last year. A ton of guys lost off [former Baylor coach] Matt Rhule’s last team in ’19, and then the pandemic. I just remember somebody asking me at media days about them, and I think they’ve done a really good job this year.”
West Virginia beat Baylor at home last season in double overtime. Brown nearly upset Rhule’s Bears in 2019 in Waco, falling 17-14 on Halloween.
WVU leads the all-time series 6-3, but has won just once in Waco.