MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “We’re not at a funeral. We just lost a couple football games. Let’s cut the ice with that.”
That’s how Neal Brown opened his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon following West Virginia’s third consecutive and most lopsided loss of the season to Baylor. A season which promised improvement during the third year of ‘The Climb’, has yet to see that investment yield dividends. Half of the season remains to reverse trajectory but Brown hears the voice of the fans and understands it.
“We’re in the entertainment business. That’s what we are. When the product is not good, the people have an opportunity to complain. That’s probably what they are doing. I don’t blame them. It is no different when you go to a restaurant and the food is not good. Or when you go to a movie and it is not good. Or however you get your entertainment, when the product is not good, you get complaints,” Brown said.
“But it is not entertainment for us. It is our livelihood, the people in this building each and every day. Our job is to get it fixed.”
Following Saturday’s 25-point loss in Waco, Brown said he wanted to review the game film before assessing if effort was lacking in the defeat. The report card was revealed today.
“I don’t think there were a bunch of loafs. There were probably less than a handful if you just say guys weren’t playing hard. But to me, the question is — did they strain? Did they go above and beyond? And I don’t think that they did compared with some others. If you put the film of the Oklahoma game on, and then you put that game on, we look at a different speed.”
Offensive line play has come into focus as West Virginia has struggled to run the football. Brown says not all five starters are playing below expectation.
“We have not performed well enough on the right side. I think Zack Frazier is playing winning football, maybe at an all-conference level. I think James Gmiter is playing really good football,” Brown said.
“Who we are playing is what we’ve got. Those are the people that are ready. Ja’Quay Hubbard has shown some improvement. He may be a guy that is potentially ready to play.”
Six games remain as the Mountaineers hope to somehow go at least 4-2 to extend their season to a 13th game.
“Did I think we would be sitting here with a better record than 2-4? Absolutely. Did I think we were going to arrive in year three and be at the top of the league? No. Do I believe with all my heart that we will get there? Absolutely I do.”