With all of the criticisms Neal Brown gave concerning West Virginia’s defensive performance against Kansas, it could’ve only been assumed that changes were forthcoming for the Mountaineers next game against Towson.
This is exactly what Brown noted during his weekly news conference on Tuesday afternoon, saying he and his coaching staff were going to look into inserting different players into the defensive personnel.
“Our young, talented guys need an opportunity to play,” Brown said. “Playing time to me is all about trust. I trust in guys who do what they’re supposed to do and play as hard as they possibly can.”
Brown highlighted three Mountaineers that will get more looks on Saturday, including defensive lineman Sean Martin, as well as defensive backs Mumu Bin-Wahad and Jacolby Spells.
Both Bin-Wahad and Spells are true freshmen for West Virginia.
Spells, a four-star recruit, was the No. 14 cornerback in the country coming out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and was ranked as No. 137 on the ESPN Top 300 prospects list. Bin-Wahad, a native of Atlanta, was ESPN’s No. 40 ranked cornerback while holding a three-star rating.
Neither player has seen game action this season according to the West Virginia website.
“Mumu is probably going to play more safety than corner,” Brown said. “Jacolby’s going to play at corner. We’re going to get them ready. It’s our job to get them ready.”
Martin, however, received a much bigger endorsement from his coach.
“Martin deserves to play more at defensive end,” Brown said. “Maybe (he’ll) even start in the game.”
Martin’s practice and in-game performance has been steadily on the rise since he joined the Mountaineers prior to the 2020 season, while also recovering from a broken pinky he suffered during this year’s camp.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound sophomore said the process of getting used to the transition from high school to college football was just as Brown described.
“It took about two years to get adjusted to college football,” Martin said. “Coach Brown always told me I would be a two-year development. My confidence level has gone up from it. I really focused this summer on just staying consistent. I also focused on the fundamentals of using my hands and footwork. Doing the little things.”
Martin’s focus on the little things may be one of the big factors that caught Brown’s attention, as the Mountaineers coach said his team performed poorly in that category against Kansas.
Martin recorded four tackles, including two for loss, against a Jayhawks offense that stifled West Virginia with its run game. Martin’s stops in the backfield were two of the only three the Mountaineers recorded on Kansas’ 36 rushing attempts.
Through two games, Martin has compiled six tackles, three for loss, and a sack against Pitt in the season opener.
“I feel like we have a great defense, we just need to focus on the little things like coach (Jordan) Lesley tells us every day,” said Martin, who played in all 13 games for the Mountaineers last year, totaling 16 tackles.
“We need to be more locked in on what we need to do to win games. We have to play as a group. Our confidence is still high. We just got to play ball.”
As for possibly getting his first career start against Towson, Martin followed the same advice he said for his teammates.
“My mom always told me to take advantage of opportunities,” Martin said. “The coaches always preach on it. I just have to do the right things to keep getting better.”