West Virginia seeking stability in the midst of transition
When Neal Brown was tapped to replace Dana Holgorsen, the idea there’d be little turbulence was reasonable. Sure, their respective personas exist at different poles, but schematically, both trace their lineage to a common ancestor in the Air Raid.
You can see the distinction clearly in Brown’s swift embrace of the job’s political duties ($), such as touring the state to drum up fan interest and hobnobbing with boosters as his athletic department tries to raise $100 million.
On the field, though, Brown’s tried to accelerate the program’s transition. For example, in a piece for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dave Matter notes that Brown made regular use of the burgeoning grad-transfer market.
- Quarterback: Austin Kendall (Oklahoma)
- Defensive end: Reuben Jones (Michigan)
- Wide receiver: George Campbell (Florida State)
- Punter: Josh Growden (LSU)
Here’s how Brown approached plucking players out of the transfer portal.
“We were in culture-building mode this summer without a doubt,” he told reporters this week in Morgantown, W.Va. “When I got here I took everything in for a few months and then we started to really build late in the spring. We were really choosy about who we brought in because they had to be guys who built the culture. … Down the road when I feel better about the makeup of our locker room it’ll be based more on talent than it was what they’ll bring to the position room.”
Will the Tigers’ ground game gain momentum?
In the aftermath of Saturday’s stunner to Wyoming, coach Barry Odom mentioned he was perplexed as to why a backfield of Kelly Bryant, Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie stalled out. Accounting for sack yardage, Mizzou averaged a paltry 3.1 yards per carry. Given the experience up front and depth behind the line, a slog wasn’t the expected outcome.
Alex Schiffer of The Kansas City Star probed what went awry in a piece where offensive coordinator Derek Dooley said the aim is averaging 4.5 yards per carry — or roughly the NCAA average. The explanation for tilting touches toward Badie is also what we suspected.
Dooley said the decision to play Badie over Rountree also stemmed from Badie’s pass-catching ability, which translated to seven catches for 49 yards against Wyoming. Center Trystan Colon-Castillo said Badie regularly talks in practice about modeling himself after Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who is one of the NFL’s better receiving tailbacks.
“I thought overall he was our most physical back,” said Cornell Ford, MU’s running backs coach. “He made some stuff happen. I think he can play a lot better, but the guys that were out there, he was the best one.”
Riding the hot hand isn’t uncommon, and I suspect it won’t take Rountree long to find his form. The bigger issue might be Bryant, who had just 20 yards rushing and put the ball on ground that Wyoming converted into a scoop-and-score to stunt MU’s momentum.
Yesterday at Rock M
- Podcast: Before the Box Score looks at West Virginia
- Notebook: Tigers hope to rebound against West Virginia
- West Virginia Mountaineers defensive preview
- Okwuegbunam looks to be bigger focal point in Missouri’s offense
- Barry Odom has been in a trying position before; How will he respond?
- Missouri lands commitment from four-star wide receiver
- Dave Matter convened his weekly virtual salon over at the Post-Dispatch.
- Alex Schiffer also joined the ranks of writers asking what conditions led to MU’s defense getting gashed.
- Power Mizzou had several pieces go up in the wake of wide receiver Javian Hester’s pledge to Missouri, but this quick video breakdown is handy.
- The Tulsa World’s dispatch from Hester’s commitment notes the importance of wide receiver coach Garrick McGee, who is also a product of B.T. Washington High School, in the recruitment.
- Nick Kelly of the Columbia Missourian noted that it didn’t take long for Jonathan Nance, a grad transfer from Arkansas, to take on a heavy work load at receiver.
- The Columbia Tribune used its wire subscription to pass along a piece on West Virginia running back Tevin Bush.
- If you’re looking to sign up for ESPN+, Rock M Nation now has an affiliate link: click Here for ESPN+ Now!