MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Had anyone asked Neal Brown about a bowl game over the course of the past month, it likely would have evoked a response similar to former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora’s legendary “playoffs?!?” rant.
Now it doesn’t seem quite as silly.
After upsetting Kansas State this weekend, West Virginia will make a bowl game if it wins its final two games against Oklahoma State and TCU. Though it’s not be a likelihood on paper, the Mountaineers are certainly motivated to close out strong.
“Think about it, we have a lot to play for,” said senior defensive end Reese Donahue. “Chance at a bowl game. Sending out the seniors right. The way things went down last year against Oklahoma State.
“Why would you not want to play as hard as you can and prepare as well as you can? We have what, 10 days guaranteed? After that we’re not guaranteed anything. Why would you not lay it on the line?”
If the Mountaineers do win out, though, it would bring up a postseason dilemma. Quarterback Jarret Doege would have already played in his full allotment of four games, meaning he’d have to be benched for the actual bowl game.
Would Austin Kendall be willing to start after being soured by his benching in favor of Doege? Would it be similar to last year’s bowl game with the inexperienced Trey Lowe playing the role of Jack Allison?
These are questions that Brown admits he has not put any thought into.
“Let’s worry about that when it happens, how about that?” Brown said during his Tuesday press conference before relenting with a more detailed reply.
“I haven’t mentioned the word ‘bowl’ in this building until just now. It’s not something I really talk about. My message since that debacle in the first half at Missouri is ‘just get better.’ That’s been our singular focus. I just want to improve as we go.
“Saturday was the best we’ve played as a football team. I just want to make sure we put a much better product on the field for our fans this Saturday than we did the last time we were in this stadium. We’re really not focusing on end-of-season goals or anything like that.”