“We’ve got kind of a half a bye week, not a real bye week, but kind of a half a bye week,” Neal Brown said. “We need some time to regroup. We got to get better, we know that.”
The Mountaineers have a sub-.500 record, and are winless in the Big 12, following Saturday night’s 38-20 loss at Texas.
The loss snapped West Virginia’s two-game winning streak, during which the Mountaineers outscored their opponents by a combined score of 98-17.
WVU is idle in Week 6, meaning it will not play again until Thursday, Oct. 13, when the Mountaineers host Baylor.
“It’s been a tough first five games,” Brown said. “We got a beat-up crew.”
West Virginia has been without top cornerback Charles Woods for all but two quarters of this season. Tight end Mike O’Laughlin was injured and did not return to the game against the Longhorns. And running back CJ Donaldson Jr. also suffered an injury, and his status moving forward is not known, publically.
The Mountaineers have seven games still to play in the regular season. They need to win at least four of those games to guarantee a bowl game berth for the third-straight year.
“In our league, and that’s what we got the rest of the way is league games, is league games,” said Brown. “And you got a chance to win them all, and you got a chance to lose them all. And it’s going to be really tightly contested, not just for us but for everybody.”
Two areas of emphasis moving forward for the Mountaineers will be creating turnovers, and doing a better job in the secondary.
West Virginia has a -2 turnover margin. The Mountaineers have created just one interception this season. The defense is allowing more than 330 yards per game. That number jumps to 416 yards per game for the opposition in West Virginia’s three losses.
“We got to do a better job of covering quality people,” Brown said. “That’s something that’s really hurt us. [We] did a better job against some of the teams that don’t throw it as well, but the teams that throw it – and [Texas] throw it – they hurt us tonight.”
Offensively, dropped passes have become an issue at times this year. Brown sited five dropped passes in the first half against the Longhorns.
“We’re trying to be elite receivers,” said redshirt junior receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton, who led the Mountaineers with 93 receiving yards Saturday. “Any time the ball touches our hands, and if it’s in our radius, we have to catch it. And we didn’t do that early, which hurt the team. So, we’ll just get back to work.”
Wheaton added the bye week will serve as an opportunity for WVU to get back to the basics, and correct some of the mistakes.
Sophomore running back Justin Johnson Jr., who has seen an increased number of carries over the past two games, agreed that the bye week is a chance to improve.
“We’ve had a tough five games the past five weeks,” Johnson said. “This bye week is coming up, and we’re going to take full advantage. Recover our bodies, and study film for the next game we have next week, and be a better football team.”