During the preseason, Neal Brown explained that all of the changes caused by the pandemic made it challenging to develop team chemistry.
Three games into the season, though, the head coach thinks his team has found its identity.
That identity was on display Saturday, as the Mountaineers played mentally tough football and edged Baylor 27-21 in double overtime.
“I hope we identify ourselves now with that gritty mindset I talked about after the game,” Brown said. “That’s the hope.”
That’s why Brown thinks his team may have reached a turning point in its season. WVU (2-1, 1-1) overcame mistakes, including four turnovers, and found a way to beat the Bears, who played in the Big 12 title game and Sugar Bowl a season ago.
Brown wants to see more of that resiliency from the Mountaineers after their open week, when they begin a stretch of five Big 12 games in as many weeks.
“The only way that this is kind of a turning point win is if we follow it up against Kansas, against Texas Tech, and as we go down the schedule, we follow it up and continue to play with that effort, that physicality, that mental and physical toughness,” Brown said.
It will be easy to see if the double overtime victory is in fact a turning point for WVU, Brown said. After losing a similar game to Oklahoma State — in which the Mountaineers also beat themselves with costly errors — the second-year head coach thinks his squad can keep building.
But the play on the field will determine where West Virginia goes from here.
“If we don’t — if we don’t continue to do it this week and next week and moving on, that’s not gonna be the case,” Brown said.
West Virginia’s next game is Oct. 17 vs. Kansas at Milan Puskar Stadium.