Football, Sports, WVU Sports

In-state talent was key to WVU’s offensive success this season

WACO, Texas — Whether it was a pitch from a recruiting pulpit or simply giving credit where it’s due, West Virginia University head football coach Neal Brown took some time in his postseason game presser Saturday night to praise the in-state talent on the Mountaineers’ offense.

“I’ve tried to talk about the kids we have from West Virginia we have on offense,” Brown said after the 34-31 comeback win at Baylor. “We’ve been really, really good on offense. And look at the number of West Virginia guys who are heavy contributors on offense.”

WVU (8-4) finished the regular season with the top rushing offense in the Big 12 Conference averaging 234.3 yards per game.

That success can largely be attributed to key offensive linemen such as center Zach Frazier (Fairmont) and tackles Nick Malone (Morgantown), Wyatt Milum (Spring Valley) and Doug Nester (Spring Valley).

Brown became emotional when speaking about Frazier’s season-ending, and therefore, college career-ending injury, on Saturday and how he sacrificed for the team.

“I can’t say enough about Zach Frazier,” Brown said. “One play sums up who he is his entire career. I think the young man from Fairmont is the best center in college football. He had a significant, but he limped off the field on one leg. He knew there would be a 10-second runoff if he stayed down. I plan on (coaching) for a long time, and I don’t know if I’ll coach a center that’s better. My level of excitement (for this win) is subdued because of (Frazier’s injury).”

The Mountaineers also have a pair of key in-state wide receivers. 

Hudson Clement (Martinsburg) caught four passes for a team-high 80 yards, including key plays on the game-winning drive. He finished with 17 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns on the season.

While complimenting Clement, Brown also made it a point to give a shout out to undefeated Martinsburg, for its 49-26 playoff win over Huntington on Saturday.

Preston Fox (Morgantown) caught 26 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns. He left Saturday’s game with an injury after catching three passes for 51 yards.

The Mountaineers will now await their bowl assignment, which is expected to be revealed on Sunday.

“We want to win, we want to make sure it’s an enjoyable experience for guys, and we want to prepare for next season – we can do all of those things,” Brown said.

WVU tied for fourth in the Big 12 with Iowa State and Kansas State after being picked to finish 14th — last — in the preseason. If they win their bowl game, they’ll have their highest win total since the 10-win season of 2016.