MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Neal Brown spoke to reporters for the third time during fall camp on Wednesday, and he offered insights into the WVU team as they approach the halfway point of the fall preseason.

Here are the top storylines from Brown’s media availability Wednesday:

Practice scheduling notes

WVU practiced with helmets and shoulder pads Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday were the first days of full pads. Brown said that portions of both practices were live with tackling.

The team will also hold scrimmages the next two Saturdays with both the first and second teams taking between 50-60 snaps each under the lights of Milan Puskar Stadium.

In contrast to the past, the team will continue practicing in the mornings for the rest of fall camp. Brown says that dynamic online classrooms in the post-COVID-19 world open opportunities for earlier practices. In previous years, the team would transition to afternoon practices in order to accommodate classroom schedules.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive [for] the mornings,” Brown said.

Physicality in practices

“Physicality” is one of the top buzz terms that continues to come out of the WVU facility.

“We’ll tackle as much as they’ll allow us to,” Brown said.

During the summer, Brown said he approached senior linebacker Lee Kpogba about increasing the amount of live 11-on-11 work done in practices. For players like Kpogba that seek contact, that is no issue, but Brown indicated that it is not uncommon for players to “hide” when the pads go on.

In an ideal world, Brown said he would like to hold joint practices with other teams in the early fall to breed physicality and competition.

“Our product would be better earlier in the year,” he said.

Special Teams updates

Brown praised punter Oliver Straw’s versatility in the punting game. Whether it be in the pocket, or rolling out Australian style, Brown says that Straw’s football IQ helps him acknowledge weak points in the team’s protection and make decisions on the fly.

As for placekicking and kickoff duties, Michael Hayes and Danny King are still battling for the top spot. Brown indicated that Hayes recently drilled a 50-plus yard field goal in order to end practice early, and both players are handling kickoff duties better than others have in years past.

Per Brown, Ja’Shaun Poke and Beanie Bishop are also the top candidates to lead the return attack.