MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU offense has a different look to it in 2023 when compared to head coach Neal Brown’s offenses of old.
Brown, a descendant of the air-raid coaching tree, is the offensive play-caller for a WVU offense that is attempting the fewest passes (113 through five games) in the Big 12.
“Listen, I love throwing the ball as much as anybody,” he said. “I think if you go back and look at through the years, going back to 2008, we’ve had a lot of success throwing the football, and so, that’s probably what my background is, first and foremost, is in a passing [offense], but we’ve got to get better throwing the football, and for us to get where we want to go is our passing offense has to improve, and we believe it will.”
On the flip side, the Mountaineers are in the top half of the conference in rushing yards per game (191.8), attempts (225) and rushing touchdowns (11). They are also No. 2 in the Big 12 in time of possession (32:53 minutes per game).
“We are a running team,” offensive coordinator Chad Scott said. “That’s who we are. It’s funny, Wyatt Milum was saying [that]. He said, ‘I love it, coach.’ To go out there and play with the level of physicality that we [are] playing with, and going to dominate in the trenches, that’s who we are. We’re a run-the-football team. That’s our identity.”
The offensive output manifests itself in the running game, but that is largely because of the dirty work done in the trenches by the veteran WVU offensive line. It also doesn’t hurt to have the No. 3 scoring defense in the conference, and a special teams unit that is consistently giving the Mountaineers short fields.
“The strength of our team right now is our offensive line,” Brown said. “And so, the job is to win games, and so, that’s what we’re doing. We’re playing to our strengths right now. We’re playing defense at a high level. We’re playing special teams at a high level. Now, I’m not naive. We’re going to have to score more points to win games, and we need to do that starting on Thursday.”
Junior quarterback Garrett Greene returned to action against TCU, and following the off week, the coaches say he continues to trend toward 100% for the Houston game. Greene missed almost two full games with an ankle injury, and the hope is that the passing output will improve as he continues to develop relationships with the team’s young wide receivers.
“[We have to] keep working the chemistry with the receivers and quarterbacks throughout practice,” Scott said. “That’s what we’ve done a lot of. We’ve had some extra days of practice with this bye week, and so, we’ve done a lot more throughout the team periods of implementing a couple more pass concepts, a couple more pass plays during those [practices].”
Brown still believes his team is yet to click for a win in which all three phases of his team are operating at a high level, but he won’t complain with a 4-1 record coming off the idle week.
As long as they keep winning games, he will reinforce the team’s strengths.
“The most important thing when you’re the head coach is to win football games,” Brown said. “And sometimes you’ve got to put some of your own ego away, maybe. That’s probably the best way to put it.”