On Tuesday afternoon, West Virginia football head coach Neal Brown spoke with the media for the first time after fall camp.
Brown and the Mountaineers finally have a team to prepare for this Saturday when they take on Maryland at College Park, Maryland. Brown mentioned the preparation for a team that only played five games in the shortened COVID season in 2020.
Brown and Staff Are Excited To Start Off On the Road
It sounds different than what most coaches in sports say but Brown and his staff are glad the team is starting on the road against a Power-5 school. West Virginia went winless in four games on the road in 2020.
“Excited about the start of the season, I’m glad we’re on the road to start off. I really am,” Brown said. “We had some struggles there last year, so we’re looking to play much improved than we did a year ago on the road.”
Saturday will mark the first time since 2005 that the Mountaineers have started with a true road game. The last time WVU hasn’t played the first game in Morgantown was in 2018 against Tennessee in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It’s a ‘Guessing Game’ To Figure Out What Maryland Will Be Against WVU
According to Brown, Maryland has one of the highest return rates in all of college football percentage wise. The Terrapins do have a lot of change within their coaching staff as they bring in three new coordinators. Brown praised the new coordinators at Maryland and how deep their resumes are.
“There’s not a whole lot to go on, they only played five games a year ago,” Brown said.
Brown does have a way to counter Maryland’s unknown status.
“I think that what you do is you go into it and you’ve got to have the ability to adjust and more your game plan goes into what are you best at,” Brown said.
“You know we’re trying to use our best guesses on what we’re going to see,” Brown added.
Depth Chart Finalized on Tuesday Morning For Week One
The football program released the depth chart for Saturday’s game against Maryland. There are a lot of opportunities for the newcomers—freshmen and transfers—to make immediate impact for the team.
Brown mentioned that freshmen WR Kaden Prather, OL Wyatt Milum and RB Justin Johnson will receive playing time. The third-year coach at West Virginia mentioned that transfer defensive players LB Deshawn Stevens, LB Lance Dixon and CB Charles Woods will also have the opportunity to play a lot of reps.
“There are some new faces, Aubrey [Burks] being the only true freshman being on defense,” Brown said. “But those are some of the new faces that will play.”
Brown announced on Tuesday that K Casey Legg won the kicking competition in fall camp. Sixth-year senior Evan Staley will handle kick-offs.
Some Injury Game Day Decisions For Saturday To Be Sorted Out
Brown talked briefly about some of the players that will either be unavailable or game day decisions for Saturday.
“One person that is not going to play is Darel Middleton. He will be out for this game,” Brown said. “[Mike] O’Laughlin and Tony Mathis are going to be game day decisions. I’m not really sure on how it’s going to play out.”
Middleton is a transfer from Tennessee. The defensive lineman played two seasons for the Volunteers and recorded 3.5 tackles for loss with 2.0 sacks.
O’Laughlin and Mathis are returning players for West Virginia with both being in the rotation for 2021. O’Laughlin had 137 yards with 15 receptions in six games at the tight end position. Mathis only played one game in 2020 but will take over the loss of backup running back Alec Sinkfield.
West Virginia will head to College Park, Maryland to take on the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. Kick-off will be at 3:30 p.m. with the game being covered by ESPN.