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Brown Looking for More in the Ground Game

WVU has to figure things out on the ground in order to find success offensively.

The Mountaineer rushing attack hasn't been as robust as many expected through the first two weeks of the season. Leddie Brown rushed for over 1,000 yards a year ago but has struggled to find much running room despite having already running four touchdowns. 

Tony Mathis missed week one while true freshman Justin Johnson Jr. did not see any action. Although the offensive line needs to make some adjustments, head coach Neal Brown is also hoping for someone to step up to help spell Leddie Brown. 

"Tony [Mathis] and Justin [Johnson] will kind of jockey to see who will get those reps," said Neal Brown."Tony is coming back off a minor injury, and he missed the Maryland game. I thought he was rusty. I thought he missed two big runs, but he had a couple of quality runs too. I thought Justin for his first college action was okay. He had one really good blitz pickup, he had two really good runs, but he probably had a couple that he would like to have back. I thought there was some flashes there. I thought Justin was a little antsy. Tony was a little rusty. So, we'll see who gets those secondary carries by how they perform this week."

The offensive line has been lackluster through the first two weeks of the season and even showed some problems against FCS opponent Long Island. Coming into the season, the group was expected to be a strength for the Mountaineers, returning starters Brandon Yates at left tackle, James Gmiter at left guard, Zach Frazier at center, and then bringing in Virginia Tech transfer Doug Nester. Unfortunately, this group has been far from impressive, and it has weakened the rushing attack. 

What makes matters worse is that this offense is starting to resemble that of the 2019 offense that had to rely on throwing the football with an average quarterback because the ground game was just not there. Jarret Doege's lack of mobility allows defenses to go in full pursuit of Leddie Brown on zone reads and RPOs. In addition, Doege is not a threat to run the football. When you have a quarterback that struggles to evade pressure or extend plays with his feet, you have to have the ability to run the football with some success. If not, the offense will become very predictable and lack creativity, which was the case in the first two games. 

It could be a long year for the offense if the Mountaineers don't get things figured out soon.

West Virginia and Virginia Tech kickoff at high noon on Saturday. The game will be televised on FS1.

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