West Virginia will have a weekend off after opening the season with a 56-10 victory over Eastern Kentucky last weekend. Head coach Neal Brown is looking to make sure that he uses this week to his advantage as the Mountaineers prepare to begin conference play against Oklahoma State.
“[I'm] glad we got to play a lot of people in our opener,” Brown said in his press conference on Tuesday. “This is a week that’s not like a typical bye week. We’ve got to continue to make improvements. We’re not going to spend as much time at the facility, but we’re going to have more camp-style practices than bye week-style practices.”
In the first game, there were 11 players suspended, and two were starters on the offensive line. Freshman center Zach Frazier caught the eye of Brown in his first action as a collegiate as he received a start.
“I was impressed with what Zach [Frazier] did in his first extensive college action,” Brown said. “Center, to me, is the hardest position to play early, but he did it and he did it well.”
Last season, the running game had a hard time moving the ball anywhere, but that was different in the game against the Colonels. Brown isn’t ready to say that his team has arrived, but it has grown in the run game.
“We’ve got to continue to prove that we’re better,” Brown said about the run game. “I don’t think just because we ran the ball well against Eastern Kentucky or our offensive line played better. That’s what we were supposed to do. We didn’t always do what we were supposed to do last year, so that’s a step in the right direction.”
Junior running back Alec Sinkfield may have been overshadowed by his fellow junior Leddie Brown, but they both eclipsed 100 yards rushing and were the first duo to do so at WVU since 2017.
“[Sinkfield] is a guy that’s had a really productive camp and he’s been a considerably different player over the last six weeks compared to what he was last year,” Brown said. “I think he’s playing with more confidence. He’s added some bulk. He’s been more decisive in the run game.”
Another freshman that showed signs of potential was wide receiver Sam Brown. He had four catches and 43 yards, highlighted by a 22-yard catch early in the game.
“He played better than I thought he would,” Neal Brown said of Sam Brown. “He was up and down practice wise last week. Wasn’t overly consistent. He did everything we asked him to, and he had shown some flashes in scrimmages and things like that, but really was kind of unsure about how he was going to play.”
Brown said that is a lot to be excited about with the group of wide receivers that he has right now.
“That young group of wideouts that we have, there’s a lot of potential there and there’s a lot of competition,” Brown said. “If we can mirror the competition in that room across our whole team, that’s our goal in recruiting, we’ll be in a good situation.”