MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – If WVU wants a shot at the Big 12 Championship, it starts with a win in Norman Saturday.
Below are the biggest takeaways from WVU head coach Neal Brown’s weekly press conference ahead of the Oklahoma game:
The WVU secondary and defensive line were highly scrutinized this offseason after both position groups saw departures after last year.
Thanks to the transfer portal, players like Beanie Bishop Jr., Tyrin Bradley, Davoan Hawkins and more have elevated the production of the defense to heights it did not see last year, but Brown believes their impact goes even further.
“We added guys that are making contributions, but they’ve been really good in the locker room too,” Brown said. “That may be as important as anything.”
Risking exposure on special teams
Brown called Saturday’s win over BYU the “most complete” win of WVU’s season so far after the game. He retracted that sentiment Monday.
“[I was] just very disappointed on how we performed on our punt return unit,” he said. “BYU’s punt team had struggled, and we got zero return yards out of our punt return team. We had two penalties on that unit, and just played really poor on punt return, and then disappointed in our kickoff.
“We didn’t kick the ball very well. We kicked short kicks with low hangtime, which makes it really difficult to cover. We didn’t tackle very well. We didn’t fit their return, so [I am] disappointed in our special teams overall.”
Along with the lackluster performance in the game’s third phase, Brown also voiced his displeasure with his team’s penalties against BYU, specifically procedural penalties like false starts. The Mountaineers were penalized 10 times for 71 yards Saturday night.
The angel Gabriel
The WVU defense will face its best opposing quarterback since Week 1 against Penn State when Dillon Gabriel takes the ball for the Sooners, and he could be the best quarterback the team sees all year.
“He’s played at a high level,” Brown said. “He can run. He’s got a really quick release. [The] kid’s won both at UCF and at Oklahoma, so a lot of respect for him.”
This season, Gabriel has completed 206-of-289 passes (71.3%) for 2,646 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions.