MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Perhaps no team has given WVU head coach Neal Brown more issues than Texas Tech.
Brown addressed his struggles against the Red Raiders, offered a quarterback update and gave his final thoughts Monday on his team’s Backyard Brawl win from over the weekend.
Here are the biggest points of note from his weekly media availability:
Preparing for life with Marchiol at QB
After suffering an ankle injury on WVU’s second drive against Pitt, junior starting quarterback Garrett Greene is questionable for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech. Should Greene not go, redshirt freshman quarterback Nicco Marchiol will start.
Brown indicated postgame Saturday and in his media session Monday that his play sheet shrunk when Marchiol entered the game. The playbook was simplified to help accommodate Marchiol by eliminating clutter, as he took only about 25% of quarterback reps in practice last week.
With Greene sitting out of practice Monday and Tuesday, Marchiol will receive all the starting quarterback reps in practice, and Brown thinks the playbook will expand.
“Our expectation is that if [Marchiol] plays, we’ll be really good on offense,” Brown said. “That’s the expectation staff-wise [and] the expectation for the players on the offensive side of the ball.”
Deficiencies against the Red Raiders in the Brown era
Since taking the head coaching job at WVU, Brown has never beaten Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers are 0-4 against the Red Raiders in the Brown era, with two of those losses coming in blowout fashion.
“The common theme is [that] they’ve moved the ball on us pretty well,” Brown said. “And then we haven’t ran the ball as well as we need to be able to run the football to win football games versus those guys.”
He credits Texas Tech’s up-tempo, air-raid style offense as something the team needs to get better at defending, and the offseason strength and conditioning program this offseason was designed to help against these kinds of teams.
Texas Tech’s under-the-radar impact player
Though its offense relies heavily on the passing attack, Texas Tech running back Tahj Brooks is firmly on the radar of Brown and defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley.
“Their running back is special,” Brown said. “They’re going to try to get him touches. He’s probably the best player in our league that nobody talks about. He really is. I think he’s right up there at the top of our league for running backs. He’s really productive.”
This fall, Brooks is averaging 5.0 yards per carry with 263 rushing yards and a touchdown. Since the beginning of his sophomore season in 2021, he is averaging 5.64 yards per carry. He was also named to the preseason watch lists for the Doak Walker Award and the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.