In Neal Brown’s first year at the helm of West Virginia football in 2019, the rushing offense only averaged 73 yards per game for the season. Now in his second season, the Mountaineers are averaging 177 yards per game as a team with junior running back Leddie Brown averaging 106 yards by himself.
West Virginia also has the No. 7 running back in yards per play in the Big 12, Alec Sinkfield. Sinkfield and Leddie Brown have developed as a dynamic duo on the ground to lead the WVU offense, but Sinkfield doesn’t think he has to push Leddie Brown to get better.
“I wouldn’t say that we focus on pushing each other,” Sinkfield said of Leddie Brown. “If I’m going 100 percent then he has to go 100 percent because that is the standard that we hold each other. Leddie is more of the power and ground-and-pound guy.”
Overall, the Mountaineer offense hasn’t been pretty in three games. Most recently, WVU had to rely on its defense against Baylor to secure its first Big 12 victory of 2020. However, Leddie Brown had another solid performance, which included the game-winning touchdown in the second overtime.
“I just stayed positive on the sideline and through practice during the week,” Leddie Brown said following his two-touchdown performance. “Coach Brown beat in our head the word grit all week and that word means a lot to this team. I think we showed we have grit and pulled out a tough win.”
In 2019, Leddie Brown finished the season with 107 carries for 367 yards and only one touchdown. In just three games in 2020, the junior has nearly matched that yardage total with 63 carries for 320 yards and four touchdowns.
Leddie Brown could be staring at another career performance on Saturday as West Virginia hosts Kansas, which ranks last in the Big 12 in run defense, giving up 228 yards on the ground per game.
In his career at West Virginia, Brown only has two 100-yard rushing games for the Mountaineers. But that was before 2020. In three games, he has amassed 100-plus yards on the ground twice with a career-high 123 yards in the season-opener against Eastern Kentucky.
“I’m taking everything personal this season,” Leddie Brown said following his career day against the Colonels. “Nobody had faith in us coming into this season, so I’m here to prove them wrong.”
Brown has also seen an uptick in targets through the air. He only has seven receptions on the season for 55 yards, but against Baylor, he caught four passes for 31 yards.
Neal Brown has emphasized the improvement that his starting running back has made in becoming more of a target in the passing game.
“Leddie has really improved his ability to run routes and catch the football,” Neal Brown said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “We’ve lined him up out wide a lot this year and I think he has improved that aspect of his game.”