During West Virginia’s first football season under head coach Neal Brown, the rushing attack was nonexistent. This season needed to show major improvement if the Mountaineers were going to get back on the map and improve on their 5-7 record from 2019.
On Saturday, WVU played its first game of 2020 after a very difficult offseason navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mountaineers finished the game with 329 yards rushing as a team after gaining only 879 yards total last season. Junior running backs Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield combined to rush for 246 yards on 25 carries and had four total touchdowns. Freshman running back Tony Mathis Jr. played most of the second half and finished with 18 carries for 55 yards.
Neal Brown credited the offensive line with the success of the running backs considering the line was down two starters for the game.
“We ran the ball better,” Neal Brown said after the 56-10 victory over Eastern Kentucky. “I think that’s a credit to the offensive line and the two tight ends that played that haven't played a lot. Jackson Knipper and Charles Finley did a nice job, then to have two 100-yard rushers, which I feel like Leddie and Sinkfield had nice camps, so to see them get rewarded today was good.”
Even with a performance like Saturday’s, Neal Brown doesn’t believe the Mountaineers have done enough when it comes to running the football.
“This is just the start,” Neal Brown said. “Just because we did it today, doesn’t mean that all of a sudden we’ve arrived running the football. We’ve got to go to Stillwater, and we got to do it, then we got to do it against Baylor, and we got to do it against people that we’re going to have to beat to be competitive in our league.”
Neal Brown referenced the hard work that Leddie Brown had shown throughout camp and believes that he has taken his game to another level early in the season.
“When we started practicing in a physical nature, he has risen his game,” Neal Brown said about his starting running back. “So, to see him get off to a quick start and go for 100 plus (yards) today, I was happy for him and it was well deserved.”
Leddie Brown had 123 yards in only one half of football against Eastern Kentucky, while he had 367 yards in 10 games all of last season.
“I’m taking everything personal this season,” Leddie Brown said about his mentality after the win over the Colonels. “Nobody had faith in us coming into this season, so I’m here to prove them wrong.”