Football, Sports, WVU Sports

Brown retools offensive staff to maximize WVU’s rushing success

MORGANTOWN — Neal Brown believes WVU found something in its running game last season. In hopes of an improved 2023, Brown is going all in on the Mountaineers running the ball.

“I think we really found who we are in the run game and what we’ve got to do is build off that,” Brown said Monday. “We really expect that to be a strength if you look at who we return offensive line-wise, who we return in the backfield, what we’re going to have at tight end and with both quarterbacks having the ability to run.”

As things stand right now, WVU is expected to return all five offensive line starters and all four running backs who saw significant playing time in 2022. 

The Mountaineers ran for over 2,000 total yards last season for the first time since 2018. The man behind the success, running backs coach Chad Scott, has been promoted to offensive coordinator in the hopes of spreading that success to the rest of the offense.

“It’s a promotion that he earned,” Brown said. “Last year he had the title of ‘run game coordinator’ and that wasn’t just a title on paper. He really coordinated our run game and I thought we showed a lot of growth.

“If you look at his position room, I think from ‘20 on, it’s really exceeded expectations. And he’s been our most consistent recruiter, not only positionally, but from an area standpoint. He’s dynamic in front of the room; guys want to follow him.”

The only thing missing from Scott’s resume as a first-time coordinator is play-calling experience. Brown, whose coaching career is built on offensive success, said Scott will get experience play-calling in the spring and then he will decide who will call plays during the season.

“Last year was the first year I’ve never (called plays),” Brown explained. Former offensive coordinator Graham Harrell handled play-calling duties for the Mountaineers last season. Harrell accepted the same position at Purdue this offseason, opening the path for Scott’s promotion.

“(Quarterbacks coach Sean) Reagan has play-calling experience, but Chad is going to gain experience in the spring and that’s something we’re going to evaluate post-spring,” Brown said. “I’ll be heavily involved and I really wasn’t until the last three or four games last year. Every opportunity I’ve had is because of my ability to coach offense. As far as who’s going to call the plays, I’m going to wait and see how the spring goes.”

One thing Brown expected more of regardless of who is calling plays is more play-action passing to build off of WVU’s rushing attack.

“We’ve got to be able to build off that and hit run-action passes; that’s how you hit explosives,” he said. “We should be better at that. If you have the ability to run, you should be able to hit explosive run-action pass plays.”

Staff Assignments

Other changes to the offensive staff include Reagan moving back to coaching quarterbacks and the hiring of Bilal Marshall and Blaine Stewart as wide receiver and tight ends coach, respectively.

Reagan will work with returners Garrett Greene and Nicco Marchiol and true freshman Sean Boyle as WVU’s main quarterbacks for the year.

“I think sometimes when we talk about coaching, we get caught up on stats and things like that,” Brown said. “When I’m looking at coaching, I’m looking at who maximizes talent, who gets the most out of their guys…I really think that when (Reagan) coached quarterbacks, he maximized who they were. We’ve got two young guys who I think are on the cusp of being really good Big 12 starters and I think he can get them over that.”

Marshall returns to lead the receiver room after having started his coaching career at WVU as a graduate assistant.

“Probably as good of a young coach that I’ve been around,” Brown said. “I thought it made a lot of sense to bring him back.”

Stewart returns to Morgantown following in the footsteps of his father, late WVU head coach Bill Stewart. The younger Stewart has spent the previous four seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“I want to be real clear about this, Blaine didn’t get hired because his dad was a head coach here,” Brown said. “I had the opportunity to go up (to Pittsburgh) and watch him coach and multiple staff members brought me Blaine’s name and, ‘This guy can coach.’ ”

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