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Mixed results as WVU concludes spring drills

Photo courtesy of Ben Queen West Virginia head coach Neal Brown watches receiver Sam Brown (17) make a catch prior to last Saturday’s Blue-Gold spring game.

MORGANTOWN –Week 1 of the college football season is still months away, but Neal Brown is openly unfulfilled.

The West Virginia football coach said as much Saturday following the annual Blue-Gold spring game, pitting Mountaineers against each other. The event signaled the end of spring work, but Brown says there is still much more to be done.

“Are coaches allowed to be satisfied? I don’t really know as far as satisfied,” Brown said with a laugh postgame. “The honest answer would be I’m probably not satisfied with anything. That’s probably the real answer.”

West Virginia took to the field last month coming off a Liberty Bowl victory hoping to mend some gaps in the depth chart and improve in assorted areas up and down the roster. What culminated this spring is a step forward in the neverending process of building a winner, but Brown says the team is far from reaching its peak.

The third-year coach highlighted a handful of areas in which the team needs to grow before the Mountaineers open the season against Maryland on Sept. 4, spanning far and wide across the roster. One of those was in the punt game, a near guarantee considering Brown’s affinity for special teams. West Virginia punter Tyler Sumpter ranked fifth in the Big 12 in overall punting, averaging 40.5 yards per punt — nearly six yards behind the conference leader.

The offensive line continues to be an area of focus a year after the Mountaineers ranked sixth in the conference in total offense as coaches look for the right starting five. Transfer Doug Nester has been thrown into the mix, but the team has been tight-lipped on the current gameplan at the position.

Despite the analysis, the spring was far from a lost cause. Brown pushed the importance of growth, noting how two playmakers — one on each side of the ball — each continued their ascent.

Starting running back Leddie Brown, a 1,000-yard rusher a season ago, has become a more well-rounded member of the backfield, further developing his hands in more ways than one.

“I wanted to challenge some of our best players to continue to use spring ball to get better and improve,” Neal Brown said. “When I say that, I’m talking about a Leddie Brown, who didn’t get tackled one time this spring, but I wanted him to get better and I thought he did that. He has become such a better pass receiver. He’s so much better in pass protection.”

Defensively, it was linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo receiving the praise. The senior ranked third in tackles last season, but Brown says he has taken the next step to be versatile by working at both the mike and will linebacker positions as the team looks to replace the departed Tony Fields.

Further, the Mountaineers made strides as a whole to limit dumb mistakes, which is a win in Brown’s book.

“I hope a defining characteristic of our program is we don’t beat ourselves,” Brown said. “I think, when you think about that, what does that mean? It means not having selfish penalties, reducing your procedural penalties, not having missed assignments, making sure you communicate well and, most importantly, you take care of the ball offensively. We wanted to play relatively clean football; I thought we accomplished that.”

h other. The event signaled the end of spring work, but Brown says there is still much more to be done.

“Are coaches allowed to be satisfied? I don’t really know as far as satisfied,” Brown said with a laugh postgame. “The honest answer would be I’m probably not satisfied with anything. That’s probably the real answer.”

West Virginia took to the field last month coming off a Liberty Bowl victory hoping to mend some gaps in the depth chart and improve in assorted areas up and down the roster. What culminated this spring is a step forward in the neverending process of building a winner, but Brown says the team is far from reaching its peak.

The third-year coach highlighted a handful of areas in which the team needs to grow before the Mountaineers open the season against Maryland on Sept. 4, spanning far and wide across the roster. One of those was in the punt game, a near guarantee considering Brown’s affinity for special teams. West Virginia punter Tyler Sumpter ranked fifth in the Big 12 in overall punting, averaging 40.5 yards per punt — nearly six yards behind the conference leader.

The offensive line continues to be an area of focus a year after the Mountaineers ranked sixth in the conference in total offense as coaches look for the right starting five. Transfer Doug Nester has been thrown into the mix, but the team has been tight-lipped on the current gameplan at the position.

Despite the analysis, the spring was far from a lost cause. Brown pushed the importance of growth, noting how two playmakers — one on each side of the ball — each continued their ascent.

Starting running back Leddie Brown, a 1,000-yard rusher a season ago, has become a more well-rounded member of the backfield, further developing his hands in more ways than one.

“I wanted to challenge some of our best players to continue to use spring ball to get better and improve,” Neal Brown said. “When I say that, I’m talking about a Leddie Brown, who didn’t get tackled one time this spring, but I wanted him to get better and I thought he did that. He has become such a better pass receiver. He’s so much better in pass protection.”

Defensively, it was linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo receiving the praise. The senior ranked third in tackles last season, but Brown says he has taken the next step to be versatile by working at both the mike and will linebacker positions as the team looks to replace the departed Tony Fields.

Further, the Mountaineers made strides as a whole to limit dumb mistakes, which is a win in Brown’s book.

“I hope a defining characteristic of our program is we don’t beat ourselves,” Brown said. “I think, when you think about that, what does that mean? It means not having selfish penalties, reducing your procedural penalties, not having missed assignments, making sure you communicate well and, most importantly, you take care of the ball offensively. We wanted to play relatively clean football; I thought we accomplished that.”

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