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WVU Football Turns Up Intensity, Physicality During Practice



WVU Football LB Lee Kpogba and Wyatt Milum

Entering year five with a losing record caused WVU football head coach Neal Brown to change his approach somewhat, most notably when it comes to how he handles practice. To that end, Brown decided to turn up the dial on physicality during fall camp.

Brown talked about wanting to make practice as physical and intense as the rules would allow him as his team prepares for an important reason for the program with a difficult slate of games. This is a “not wanting to leave any stone unturned” mentality for Brown.

On Wednesday, Brown highlighted the move to full-contact while providing an update on the progress of his team. He then detailed his plan for the coming days and weeks. “We went Monday in shells and went a lot of team. Then yesterday and today we went full pads and tackled each of the last two days for certain periods,” said Brown. “We did a lot of situational work, a lot of 11-on-11 work, The last three days have been a grind.

WVU Football HC Neal Brown at practice

WVSN photo/Kelsie LeRose

“Tomorrow will be a non-practice day. Friday we’re going to do some team stuff, though not as physical, and then Saturday night will be our first real live scrimmage. We’ll go approximately 45 or 50 plays with both groups (first and second teams),” he added. “We’ll take Sunday off and then come back and repeat basically what we did this week on Monday and Tuesday. The first day of school is Wednesday, so this practice will be next Thursday, and then we’ll scrimmage again on Saturday.”

Brown’s reasoning for being more physical now compared to at this point in past years is his hope that will lead to playing better during games and be more fundamentally sound. Most of this plan is about execution, especially on the defensive of the ball. Brown believes missed tackles were a major factor in WVU losing winnable games in 2022.

Neal Brown Likes Progression of Defense, Knows There’s Still Room to Grow

“We’re intentional about being physical in camp, and we’re tackling as much as the rules allow us to. The big component for us to be successful is our ability to be both physically and mentally tough. The only way I know how to do that is go out and practice that,” Brown offered as his belief in why this overly physical approach will work.

“We did a good-on-good tackling drill yesterday and today, and I thought there was a lot of growth between day one and day two,” said Brown about what he’s noticed as far as results so far.

“Tackling is two things. The first is want to. The second is technique — you have to run your feet and shoot your arms. I thought defensively we did a lot better job. Offensively one of the key points in breaking tackles is being efficient with your moves. Coach (Chad) Scott says it all the time, “The best moves are no moves. Get vertical and run behind your pads.’ We’ve made a point to drill that, and I think it’s shown up. I think our running backs and our big receivers are finishing plays well.”

WVU Football defense practicing tackling

WVSN photo/Kelsie LeRose

Brown even mentioned some of WVU’s veteran players like linebacker Lee Kpogba are enjoying their head coach embracing an approach centered around an increase in physical play.

As long as health doesn’t become a concern, this plan makes sense. However, it’s also safe to say the proof will be seen soon enough on the field.


Watch Brown’s most recent press conference in full below.

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