MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Neal Brown addressed the media on Tuesday ahead of West Virginia’s regular-season finale against Oklahoma State.
The Mountaineers will not only look to end the 2022 campaign on a high note but will aim to snap a lengthy losing streak against the Cowboys.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the head coach’s time at the podium.
Garrett Greene to start Saturday
It’s official, sophomore Garrett Greene will start in the regular season finale versus Oklahoma State. Greene made the first start at quarterback of his collegiate career last Saturday against Kansas State.
The young quarterback threw for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw a pair of interceptions, the first of which was returned for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Both Brown and offensive coordinator Graham Harrell stated there were positives and negatives in Greene’s performance against the Wildcats. One thing they’re working on with Greene is minimizing the risks on big plays.
“He’s got to take the layups. He’s always looking for the big plays, you’ve got to take the easy ones,” said Brown.
Harrell categorized Greene’s play as going “rogue” at times. Brown was asked about that and stated that while that can work against the offense’s production at times, it can also work in the team’s favor.
“One of his biggest strengths is his ability to be impromptu, and kind of make a play. And he wants to make a big play all the time, and he does that,” Brown said. “Some of it is, as a coach, Graham and I have to be comfortable with a little bit of unknown. And there’s going to be some unknown.”
Unpacking “Disappointing” special teams performance vs. KSU
Brown spoke about the play of his special teams unit following the game on Saturday, and he referenced their performance once again on Tuesday.
“I can’t ever remember really struggling that bad,” Brown said, also saying the unit’s play was “most disappointing.”
Veteran Casey Legg, who entered the game perfect on field goals (13-13) and extra-point (33-33) attempts on the year, struggled. Legg missed his lone field goal try, and was off the mark on two of his three PATs.
Brown stated that Legg’s swing in his approach to and through the football didn’t look the same against the Wildcats. Legg was dealing with a new holder last week, due to Graeson Malashevich being sidelined with an injury.
However, the head coach isn’t worried about Legg heading into the regular-season finale.
“It’s not something that’s going to affect him going into Oklahoma State,” said Brown.
Chance to party like it’s 2019
While a bowl berth is no longer an option, Saturday does provide the Mountaineers with a chance to finish the season on a high note. West Virginia has won its final game of the regular season in two of the three previous seasons under Brown.
A win against the Cowboys would mark WVU’s first regular-season sweep against the state of Oklahoma since joining the Big 12.
But Saturday also gives Brown’s crew a chance to go out in a similar way to Brown’s first WVU team.
“I think that was a good example of a group that did [finish],” said Brown. “They lost a really tough game and came back, and went on the road and won. A lot of those guys are on the team.”
In 2019, the Mountaineers suffered a home loss to a nationally ranked team in the eleventh game of the year. The following week, WVU took down TCU in Fort Worth.
Young players to play vs. Cowboys
According to the head coach, college teams are allowed to travel with a higher number of players than usual for one road game per season. The Mountaineers have elected to use the increased number of travel seats for the season-finale against Oklahoma State.
That not only gives more young players a chance to make a Big 12 road trip but also allows the coaching staff to get more young players on the field.
“We’re going to be intentional about getting them in,” Brown said, who stated that includes all three phases of the game.
Asked specifically about true-freshman quarterback Nicco Marchiol, Brown said the coaching staff will have conversations about the young passer this week. The head coach hinted at the possibility of playing Marchiol ahead of last week’s game against the Wildcats.
Marchiol has played in one game this season, throwing a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against Towson.