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Neal Brown welcomes routine as game week arrives

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Nearly six months after spring practice was halted and eventually canceled, a sense of normalcy has returned to the WVU football program with the arrival of game week.

West Virginia will host Eastern Kentucky in the season opener Saturday at noon (Fox Sports One). Speaking on the Big 12 coaches’ conference call Monday morning, WVU’s Neal Brown said getting back into a somewhat normal rhythm is welcome.

“It is week-by-week,” Brown said. “The game weeks are different than anything we have experienced in the past. But we are getting into a routine. This will be very helpful for the staff and for the players. For planners, this has been a difficult time. That’s something I have learned and been able to come to grips with during this pandemic.

“Change is difficult for males sometimes. It seems more difficult for football coaches. You either adapt or die. And in this game, dying is losing.”

While some games have been postponed across the country due to COVID spikes within teams and campuses, WVU has been largely unaffected by positive cases throughout preseason camp.

“I like our protocols and procedures we have in place here. But I am not naive. I know we are in a college environment. We are dealing with anywhere from 17 to 23-year-olds. Decision making is sometimes not their strength. We are in a good place now but that could change at any point.”

To make up for some of the practices lost during the spring, NCAA coaches were allowed more on-field access to their players prior to the start of the traditional preseason camp. Brown says that has allowed more playbook installation. However, they are still getting caught up live practice reps.

“We probably have more offense and defense installed than we normally would just because we had more OTA-type workouts coming in. I think there were twelve of them. With a lot of Zoom time, we were able to install offense and defense. What we don’t have as much of is full speed reps, especially since we went with small team practices and we really have only been practicing all together for only two weeks.

“We are not going probably as long or as many repetitions in practice as we normally would during a week one because I don’t think our conditioning level is at that point. Other than that, it is pretty much status quo.”

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