Mountaineer football depending on more explosive plays in 2021

Gold and Blue Nation

Quarterback Jarret Doege calls out the signals with running back Leddie Brown at his side at WVU football’s fall camp practice on Aug. 11, 2021 (Photo: Sam Coniglio)

In August 2020, it was the WVU defense that dominated fall camp. Flash forward one year and it’s both sides of the ball that are rising to the occasion. Neal Brown saw a much more balanced camp and he attributes that to the offense being “significantly better,” especially upfront.

Jarret Doege returns for his second straight season as the team’s QB1 and will be accompanied by 1,000-yard rusher Leddie Brown. Led by that duo last year, the offense was efficient and had limited turnovers. Neal Brown hopes when it lines up against Maryland on Sept. 4, there’s one noticeable difference from a year ago.

“I hope that we are more explosive. That’s the hope. I hope when people watch us, they say that group is more explosive,” the head coach said in an exclusive interview for the Neal Brown Show. “I hope it’s a group that continues to play extremely hard, which we did last year, and we’re physical and efficient. We’re not a group that gets procedure penalties. We’re not a group that turns the ball over. We’re not a group that drops passes. We’ve got improvements to make.”

Here’s how Brown defines an explosive play: “You want it to be anything that is plus-15 in the run game. In the pass game, we are looking for 20-plus.”

By his standard, WVU registered 57 explosive plays last season — 21 rushing, 36 passing. There were three games that did not see a rush of more than 15 yards — Texas Tech, Texas and Army. Against Eastern Kentucky, Kansas, Kansas State and TCU, WVU produced four explosive rushing plays with the longest of the year being Leddie Brown’s 87-yarder vs. the Jayhawks. The second-longest of 2020 was 38 yards.

Doege and company only had one showing without a pass of 20 yards or longer and that was vs. Baylor. There were six games that saw four or more explosive passing plays with the best showing coming against Texas Tech with seven. While that game did see the most, the loss to Oklahoma State saw the longest of the season — a 70-yard touchdown by Winston Wright.

Brown believes the success of this offense is going to come down to taking care of the ball and being explosive. There’s a number of ways to achieve the latter.

“You can catch the ball underneath, or you can hand it to the running back and they break tackles or make people miss,” Brown said, “Or you can throw the ball over their head. We need to be better in all three of those areas.”

For all the stats lovers out there, here is a full breakdown of the explosive plays per game in 2020:


  • rushing: 38, 28, 36, 17
  • passing: 26, 24, 22, 32, 20


  • rushing: 18, 19, 15
  • passing: 41, 70

BU (W)

  • rushing: 19, 25
  • passing: longest was 14 yards

KU (W)

  • rushing: 21, 15, 15, 87
  • passing: 23, 26, 39


  • rushing: longest was 14 yards
  • passing: 32, 34, 20, 24, 20, 38, 24


  • rushing: 15, 36, 19, 31
  • passing: 58, 32, 21, 38

UT (L)

  • rushing: longest was 12 yards
  • passing: 38, 28, 29, 29


  • rushing: 30, 18, 34, 31
  • passing: 23, 26


  • rushing: 18
  • passing: 26, 25, 23, 30


  • rushing: longest was 13 yards
  • passing: 20, 28, 27, 31, 20

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