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Sunday notebook: Brown believes WVU is ‘figuring it out’

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Regardless of what happens in their final two regular season games against Oklahoma and Big 12-leader Iowa State, West Virginia has met some benchmarks for tangible progress in Neal Brown’s second season as WVU head coach.

Saturday’s 24-6 win over TCU¬†allowed West Virginia to equal their 2019 win total in four fewer games (5-3). The Mountaineers have surpassed last season’s Big 12 win total (4). After going winless at home in four league games last year, WVU is 5-0 overall at Milan Puskar Stadium this fall.

West Virginia Mountaineers safety Tykee Smith (23) breaks up a pass (Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

“Our last two home games are a picture of how we want to play the game,” Brown said.

“I don’t think we have arrived by any means, but I think we are figuring it out. The product we put on the field today was very good.”

West Virginia held TCU 295 total yards. The Mountaineers have not allowed 300 yards to any opponent at home. Additionally, WVU is yielding just 67.8 rushing yards per game at Milan Puskar Stadium. In a roll call of key contributors Saturday, Brown spoke at length about a number of players.

“Tony Fields continues to make play after play,” Brown said. “Tykee Smith was a captain for us today but I don’t think he is getting talked about enough. I think he could be as good as his position as anyone in our league. Exree Loe stepped in for Josh Chandler today and took huge advantage of the opportunity. He played well in the run and the pass game. And Sean Mahone is quietly putting together a really strong year.”

Loe has made the most of playing opportunities in a reserve role. The redshirt junior linebacker replaced Tony Fields in the lineup at Texas Tech when Fields was ejected in the first quarter and Loe posted a season-high nine tackles. On Saturday, Loe made a dozen stops, filling in for Josh Chandler-Semedo.

“Ex was ready,” said Fields. “Ex has always been ready. Hopefully next year for this team he can make even more snaps.”

Jarret Doege leads the Big 12 in passing yards (2,219). In his last five games, Doege has tossed 8 touchdown passes against just 1 interception and he is averaging 299 yards per game in that stretch.

West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown talks with West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Jarret Doege (Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports)

“I guess since the Baylor game, he has played really well,” Brown said. “He is kind of under the radar. He has played really, really well and is taking care of the football. His decision making is really good. He had his best week of practice this week. His passing numbers don’t show it because we took the air out of the ball in the second half, but he was really efficient today and never put the ball in jeopardy.”

“He is still the same guy. He is focused on details,” said WVU receiver T.J. Simmons.

“I know it was a little rocky for us in the beginning of the season. We have been doing a good job of practicing and catching the ball with contested catches. He just told me to have faith in us and hopefully we can make a play for him.”

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