There has been a lot of positivity surrounding the West Virginia football program through the first three days of fall camp, but head coach Neal Brown took the podium following practice on day four and he did not like what he observed on the practice field.
“Today, really disappointed in today’s work,” expressed Brown. “It’s kind of a recovery day. We’re out there for ‘true’ work for probably about an hour and I thought it was unfocused. Probably our most disappointing of the four. So, we got to get better. I just didn’t like our approach. You got to have a mature approach. I thought we were mentally weak today – four days in and so we got to improve that.”
It is the early season in fall camp and there is a not of lot of contact. The first day of pads was day three and despite not tackling, it was the best practice they’ve had.
“Yesterday was probably our best work we’ve had of the four.” Boasted Brown. “I thought we really competed well. Some high points on offense – high points on defense.”
Brown commented further on why it didn’t carry over to-day four of fall camp.
“I didn’t like our mental approach at all,” expressed Brown. “I thought it was very immature. I thought our leadership was lacking. It was a little hot. We’re day four into it and I just didn’t think we responded very well.”
“The whole deal is, and I believe this, if you do little things right and you prepare and work hard, good things are going to happen,” said Brown. “But I think the opposite is also true. If you’re not mentally prepared, if you’re not taking care of your body, if you’re not focusing on details – in the same aspect, that ball will find you, and you will be exposed and we had some guys get exposed today because they weren’t ready to go.”
“I’m disappointed in two areas,” said Brown. “The first one is guys that have played meaningful snaps and they should be able to overcome some adversity, whether it’s the number of practices, whether it’s they’re a little fatigued, whether its coach created adversity, they should be able to overcome it, and I didn’t think some of our older guys handled that as well. Then we got some younger guys that are having to transition. Maybe they were redshirted. Maybe they were high school players but they’re at their transition. And, where we are at as a football program, they’re going to be counted on. They understand that. I’ve told them, ‘your development is fast forwarded. Whether you like that or not or whether we like that or not, as coaches, it is what it is, and your development is fast forwarded. To do that, you got to have the mental approach where I’m going to attack every day to get better. I thought we had the mentality, in both of those groups, a little bit today as we’re going to get through this and not improve at this.”
This is a little surprising considering it’s so early in fall camp, but maybe it shouldn’t be. It’s a whole new coaching staff and a roster full of inexperience. And maybe, the lack of full contact has gotten a little monotonous. Nonetheless, Brown is changing the culture in Morgantown and writing it off as an “off day” is not in Browns vocabulary.
“I think part of it too is as coaches we got to do a better job of getting them ready to go. Coaches aren’t any different- it’s the same way. You know, day four, they’ve been up here all for three and a half days in a row now. As coaches we got to a better job of getting them ready and that starts with me. So, it’s on us too. Tomorrow is going to be our hardest day of fall camp. That would have been the case if we had our best practice today, but we’re going to have our hardest. It’s the first time we put full pads on tomorrow. We’re going to do a lot of 11 on 11 work. I’m very interested on how we’re going to approach tomorrow.”
More than likely the players will respond seeing that they will have more of a scrimmage atmosphere. The monotony will return as the season approaches and the players get tired of going up against each other, but this group that doesn’t return a lot of experience can’t afford to have off days.
This is a very small test and how the players and coaches handle the adversity will carry over later into fall camp and into the season.