MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Just like that, West Virginia University football’s 2023 home slate is over.
Here are the biggest takeaways from head coach Neal Brown’s postgame thoughts following the Mountaineers’ 42-21 win on Senior Day:
A fitting ceremony
West Virginia University recognized Hall of Fame head coach Don Nehlen by immortalizing his name on Milan Puskar Stadium’s Diversified Energy Terrace in between the first and second quarters Saturday.
With his assistants prepping his players for the second quarter of play, Brown watched on from the 35-yard line and paid homage to the WVU legend.
“On a day that we honored the all-time winningest coach, the most successful coach, and one of the best men that’s been in college football, I think [it is] only fitting that his first game as head coach here at West Virginia was against Cincinnati [and] he gets immortalized in the stadium in a game that we won convincingly versus Cincinnati,” Brown said. “So [we] had a little extra pressure on us to come out and win tonight with him getting honored, but glad we could get it done. I’m glad our crowd game him a long ovation there.
It starts up front
WVU’s offensive line has predictably been the highlight of the Mountaineers’ season, but for perhaps the first time all year, they felt disgraced entering the Cincinnati game.
“The Joe Moore Award – which goes to the top offensive line [in the country] – came out with their semifinalists, and I thought it was an absolute, complete farce that our guys weren’t involved in that. I don’t know what the criteria is for that, but coming into the game, we were seventh in the country [in rushing offense], [and] we should probably in the top-five after this game. We ran for 424 [yards]. We were seventh in the country for fewest sacks allowed. You look at those stats and I would make a hard argument [that] we’re the best offensive line in the country, but we definitely should be a semifinalist for that.”
What a perfect form of motivation for Senior Day.
“That was something that our guys took offense to today,” Brown said. “They took it out on Cincinnati. That’s something that I thought was a slap in the face to our program.”
Bounce-back performance at quarterback
In the three games leading up to Saturday’s matchup, junior quarterback Garrett Greene averaged just 172 yards and a 48.% completion rate while throwing four touchdowns and an interception.
Brown noted earlier in the week that he planed on making an attempt to “thin down” WVU’s catalog of passing plays to benefit Greene’s play style. It clearly worked, as Greene became the second passer in WVU history to throw for over 200 yards and rush for over 150 yards in a single game.
“I knew he would play well after not playing as well last week…Last week was really the first time he hadn’t had success this year, and there’s been varying levels of success, but he really just didn’t play well,” Brown said. “He’s the ultimate competitor.”