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WVU set to host Baylor, Brown says playing in empty stadium is ‘not ideal’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s first chance to atone for the many mistakes they made in Saturday’s 27-13 loss at Oklahoma State comes this Saturday afternoon when the Mountaineers host Baylor at Milan Puskar Stadium.

“Credit Oklahoma State,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said on Monday’s Big 12 conference call. “They played much more sound football than we did and therefore won the game.

“We hurt ourselves a bunch with penalties, missed assignments and missed fits in the run game. Oklahoma State won the ball game, I don’t want to take anything away from them at all. But we did not play very well.”

In the final box score, West Virginia averaged 1.6 yards per tote. They gained 68 yards on 42 attempts. The stats are skewed by the fact that the Mountaineers lost 41 rushing yards on 5 sacks. In the college game, yards lost on sacks are reflected in team rushing stats. Leddie Brown rushed for 104 yards on 26 carries.

“We had a bunch of negative plays through sacks but we ran the ball for 130-plus yards. That was a big-time improvement from what we did a year ago.

“I thought Leddie (Brown) ran better. We were able to get the ball to the line of scrimmage. All the negative yardage plays came on pass plays. I don’t agree with how those stats are kept but nobody is asking my opinion on it.”

Leddie Brown (4) runs the ball against the Oklahoma State (Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports)

For their second consecutive home game, the Mountaineers will play in front of families of players and athletic staff. A crowd of 976 was in attendance when WVU defeated Eastern Kentucky on September 12.

“It is just awkward. We played our first game with just families here. It was just different. I don’t think the competition on the field is different. I don’t think guys competed any less hard. The atmosphere is not here. Some of the things that make college football great — the bands, the smell of tailgating, the passion from the fans.”

Brown is hopeful that some number of spectators will be allowed at Milan Puskar Stadium when the Mountaineers host Kansas on October 17 in their next scheduled home game.

“It is not ideal. We hope to soon have fans here. Hopefully we will have an announcement here shortly. But we won’t have them for the Baylor game. The way we approach it is that nobody is here watching practice everyday and we still have to compete at a high level. That’s the way we treat the game.

“There is something missing. But it is better than the alternative of not playing at all.”

Baylor Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer (5) passes against the Kansas Jayhawks (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Baylor took care of business in their season and conference opener Saturday against Kansas, 47-14. Quarterback Charlie Brewer made his 31st career start for the Bears in the win. He completed 15-of-23 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown toss.

“The kid wins. I don’t know what else you can say that is better than that. He is a winner. He comes from a winning family.”

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