Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: Running back Leddie Brown living up to expectations at the perfect time for WVU

Leddie Brown made it clear that the 2019 season was personally offensive to him. The Mountaineers heard all season and offseason how bad the running game was, and while it was collectively poor across the board, Brown was a part of it. He averaged just 3.4 yards per carry and totaled 367 yards in 12 games.

 On Saturday against Kansas, Brown gained 53% of his entire 2019 total, finishing with 195 yards — without playing the fourth quarter — in a dominant effort as he continued his revenge tour on Big 12 defenses.

Brown’s day was highlighted by an 87-yard touchdown run where not a single Jayhawks defender laid a  hand on him. It was the longest run for the Mountaineers since Noel Devine went 88 yards on a similar play against Pitt in 2009, and was the sixth-longest run in program history.

“I think I cut off our center, and he had got his guy turned, and I saw that little crease between Chase (Behrndt) and Mike Brown, and jumped through it, and from there, it was off to the races,” Brown said.

“I looked ahead and saw nothing but green — green field and I just hit it.”

Brown’s 195 yards are the most rushing yards in a single game since Justin Crawford ran for 209 against Baylor in December 2016.

He also had five catches for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Jayhawks.

While Brown’s personal accolades are impressive, his performance Saturday in WVU’s 38-17 win was desperately needed for the Mountaineers offense as a whole. The passing game continues to struggle — quarterback Jarret Doege was off on several throws while the offensive line allowed KU pass rushers through most of the game. The wide receivers were plagued yet again with drops in critical situations.

But when WVU needed a spark, Brown did exactly what a workhorse is supposed to do.

The Philadelphia native came in with high expectations as a 4-star recruit, but waited his turn in 2018 as a true freshman, nestled behind Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway on the depth chart. We’ve already talked about last year as a sophomore, but now, as a junior, he’s budding into the star many thought he’d be, and just in the nick of time with the issues surrounding him.

Brown credits his new found relationship with members on the offensive line, but head coach Neal Brown thinks one of the biggest differences between Leddie this year compared to years past is his practice habits.

 “Leddie has gotten better as his practice habits have improved, and on Tuesdays and Wednesday, which are work days for us, he is working,” Neal Brown said. “He has high player loads, he has top speeds, he’s setting up his blocks, regardless of if he’s going against our defense or scout team — every rep matters. As he’s done that and his approach to practice  improves and he takes care of his body, his level of play has improved.

“He’s only going to continue to get better. I think he’s in the conversation with a lot of the top running backs in our league.”

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