Football, Sports, WVU Sports

WVU FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Winston Wright shines; offensive line juggles; Leddie Brown’s penalty

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The deep pass did not work for the WVU offense at all during Saturday’s 27-13 loss at Oklahoma State, but the interior hard slants were one of the few positives to the Mountaineers’ passing attack.

Quarterback Jarret Doege was under pressure most of the afternoon, but he did find success on play fakes to running back Leddie Brown, rearing back and firing across the middle to slot receivers Winston Wright and T.J. Simmons.

Wright, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound sophomore, played sparingly as a freshman last season, but his quickness makes him an ideal fit at slot. He hauled in six catches for 127 yards, including the Mountaineers’ only touchdown of the day, a 70-yard catch and sprint in the second quarter.

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“All week, coaches have been giving me things to look for and I just applied them,” Wright said. “I would like to get the win, but I think I had an OK win. There’s some things I’ve got to get better on.”

Simmons, a senior who was one of 11 suspended two week’s ago for the season opener against Eastern Kentucky, also had four catches for 82 yards. Simmons and Wright were easily the two most productive receivers, and coach Neal Brown knew the impact Oklahoma’s State’s star cornerback Rodarius Williams and safety Kolby Harvell-Peel could have.

WVU’s No. 1 receiver Sam James was held to just five catches for 32 yards on the outside.

Offensive line juggling

While the fall weather is starting to settle in in Morgantown, that was not the case Saturday in Stillwater.

Hovering around 90 degrees, it was a hot late-September day, and as a result, WVU juggled a lot of its offensive line, especially on the right side. John Hughes earned the start at right tackle, but rotated in and out with Briason Mays. At right guard, Michael Brown started but Chase Behrndt, another one of the suspended 11, got reps. At center, true freshman Zach Frazier started but Behrndt also worked there.

On the other side at left tackle, Junior Uzebu earned his first start after being suspended last week, but Brandon Yates also moved in an out. The only solidified position was left guard with James Gmiter.

“With the heat, we just wanted to rotate guys in,” Brown said. “When you’re losing some one-on-ones, you start searching a little bit, too. Going into the game, we wanted to play Yates, which we did. We wanted to play both Chase and Frazier at center, which we did. We wanted to play Chase a little at guard, which we did.

“We played the guys and we’ll figure it out. We’ll look at the tape and figure out who gave us the best chance.”

Leddie Brown penalty

Running back Leddie Brown was finding a lot of success in the first half, running hard and breaking tackles, but after a long first down run that got the ball near OSU territory, Brown spiked the ball and was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The drive ended with a Jarret Doege fumble, returned 66 yards for a Cowboys’ touchdown.

“Yeah, I was surprised, because last year at Kansas, I did the same thing and it wasn’t a penalty,” Brown said. “But that was 100% on me and after that, I apologized to my team in the sideline.”

Neal Brown wasn’t as nonchalant about the call afterward, saying Leddie Brown needs to be better as a veteran.

“We cannot have the penalty that he had,” Neal Brown said. “That’s a selfish penalty, he’s a leader on the team, he was a captain for the game. We cannot have that penalty.”

Still, Leddie Brown finished with 104 yards on 26 carries to lead the team.

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