Time and time again, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said this offseason that he wanted his team to be the most improved team in the nation this season.
So far through four games, the Mountaineers (3-1, 2-1 Big 12) are certainly on the right track of achieving that goal. On the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday morning, Brown laid out exactly which areas he wanted to see improvement in.
“Defensively, we knew we had to improve third-and-medium, rushing defense and we had to increase our takeaways,” Brown said. “Offensively, we put a premium on rushing the football, it’s been marked improvement there, we put a premium on taking care of the ball, which has not translated, and then we put a premium on redzone scoring and scoring touchdowns.”
Of those six areas Brown mentioned, the only one where the Mountaineers have not improved this season has been ball security on offense.
|Opponent third-down converstions||69-173 (39.9%)||14-54 (25.9%)|
|Opponent rushing yards per game||159||91.8|
|Opponent yards per carry||3.8||2.7|
|Opponent turnovers||14 (1.17 per game)||6 (1.5 per game)|
|WVU rushing yards per game||73.3||189.3|
|WVU yards per carry||2.6||4.5|
|WVU turnovers||20 (1.7 per game)||7 (2.25 per game)|
|WVU redzone stats||34 attempts, 16 TD, 9 FG||18 attempts, 14 TD, 3 FG|
WVU’s defense has improved enough that the Mountaineers currently rank no. 1 in the nation in total defense. Brown said the team’s next stretch of games will really put their improvements to the teas, however.
“We’ve been improved in all three of those areas so far,” Brown said. “I think we’re getting into the part of our schedule that’s really going to challenge us in those areas.”
On offense, WVU’s rushing success had directly translated to improvements in the redzone. After scoring just 16 redzone touchdowns all of last season, the Mountaineers already had 14 redzone touchdowns in just four games this year. Again, Brown said the team’s upcoming game’s against Texas Tech, Kansas State, Texas and TCU will reveal just how much the Mountaineers have really improved.
Matt Wells, the head coach of Texas Tech, WVU’s next opponent, said WVU’s improvements have been obvious this season.
“Just from my standpoint, they’re absolutely improved,” Wells said. “They’re playing good on defense, their d-line, the pass rush has been very, very good. They’re very disruptive. [Quarterback Jarret] Doege has proven to be more than a steady hand, he’s good, he’s a good player. [Leddie] Brown is one of the top backs in the league right now. They’ve done a nice job.”
WVU and Texas Tech will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday from Lubbock, Texas. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.