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A Tough Week of Practice set the Tone for WVU

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(Photo by Doug Johnson)

Morgantown, WV – West Virginia had a tough game two traveling to Missouri and playing an experience Tiger team. The game didn’t quite go as they envisioned, and two-early turnovers snowballed to a 31-point lead in an unsettling 38-7 loss. West Virginia head coach Neal Brown voiced his frustrations in his opening statement on Tuesday during media availability.

“I can handle losing, I don’t like it, but I can handle it,” said Brown. “What I’m disappointed about in that game is a couple of things. Our inability to do what we were coached to do and our lack of physicality.”

That set the tone for the rest of the day with offensive coordinator Matt Moore and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning echoing those same sentiments and calling the players out for how soft they were playing.

The defense has shown at times they were capable of being competitive but tallying 22 missed tackles and missing six sack opportunities it was back to the drawing board.

“We coached them hard and we went back to maybe being a little more physical,” said Koenning. “It was a hot week and we didn’t back off on that. It was what we needed to do to kind of get that bad taste out of our mouth for doing so poorly against Missouri.”

“It was very intense and very hard,” Dante and Darius said at the same time with a smile after the game.

“Our coaches want to succeed so bad and you can see that in their eyes even when we win,” continued Darius. “So, whenever we don’t have such a good game, we all step back and go from step one and rebuild but then again, we only have six days before our next game, so we got to move quick. Whenever we go through intense practices it helps us out a lot. We execute a lot of our plays during the week… and it carried over through to the game.”

Co-offensive coordinator and o-line coach Matt Moore had his work cut out for him before they went back to practice on Tuesday. Then, he found out he was going to be without his starting guards.

“When I knew we were going to be down both starting guards, I never flinched,” said Moore. “We just came out there and worked, and those guys never flinched. They were excited to play.”

Starting left tackle Colton McKivitz has been the lone bright spot throughout the season along the line and is continuing to grow, not only as a football player but as a leader. He expressed how important practice was in preparation for NC State.

“Yeah practice this week, yeah that was a fun time,” McKivitz said jokingly before stating how tough practice was. “We put the pants on Tuesday and got after it. (We) Had a lot more physical practice on Tuesday and Wednesday and I think that was the biggest key. It was hot out; it was like 90 something. Just that heat – it’s a grind. You don’t want to practice in that heat in the season, your body is beat up, but I think the way the guys approached the recovery process and that film process really paid off.

The coaching staff is blunt with their players when watching the game film on Mondays. It’s not about embarrassing the young men but allowing it to be teachable moments and improving on their play.

“Guys took some shots in meetings last week and I think that was probably the biggest key is realizing that football is a humbling game,” said McKivitz. “I think that was kind of the biggest key was guys got humbled and they just approached this week with the right attitude, and they played well.”

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