Neal Brown Bewildered Over Dropped Passes

Christopher Hall

Dropped passes are not uncommon in football, especially at the collegiate level but the rate West Virginia has dropped passes the last two weeks has been alarming. There is no official stat for it, so depending on who you ask, the number may vary, and you can count on the coaching staff has more.

To my count, the Mountaineers have dropped 15 passes the last two weeks. Sam James led the group last week with three, and he’s been the focal point of the issue dating back to last season. However, it's spreading throughout the receiving corps, and it was costly in the 34-27 loss to Texas Tech on Saturday, and by my count, West Virginia dropped eight.

West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Ali Jennings (19) is tackled by Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back DeMarcus Fields (23) in the fourth quarter at Jones AT&T Stadium.
West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Ali Jennings (19) is tackled by Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back DeMarcus Fields (23) in the fourth quarter at Jones AT&T Stadium.Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

During media availability on Tuesday, co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Gerad Parker said, “the first solution is to get on the jug machines, and while everyone agrees that will help, there’s more than just sitting in one spot and catching the football. How many catches can we create that are game-like that build confidence for the right reasons that allow him to know that he’s going to catch the football when it matters most. I think it’s going back to work, but it’s also creating game-like catches, so you build real estate in your mind to where one doesn’t turn into two.”

The issue wasn’t going to be fixed in a week, but the problems look far from resolved. West Virginia head coach Neal Brown seemed to be at a loss for words on what the next step will be directly following the game.

“If I had an answer for it, it would have already been corrected, and I’m not being a smart ass,” said Brown. “I mean, I don’t know. We’ve had an issue with it. It is what it is. I mean, we’ve had an issue with it.”

It was clear from the outset of when addressing the media, Brown was frustrated after losing to Texas Tech team the Mountaineers should have beat, and in a search for answers on the mounting mistakes made by the receivers, he was trying to conjure up the reason behind the drops. 

“We catch more balls here than I’ve ever caught at any point in my career. Never had this issue before,” continued Brown. “So, we’re going to have to continue to evaluate it. I don’t have an answer for you right after the game. I thought we caught the ball better at practice. Our catch percentage was the highest it’s been in any game week in two years. So, we’re going to have to go and continue to evaluate it, but it’s an issue.”

I certainly don’t have the answer either, but my first thought is to run it out of them. Run the stadium steps until they do not think about it anymore, then to the jugs. The next drop pass in practice, send them back to running. That’s an old school mentality that West Virginia men's basketball coach brings with his treadmills, and maybe that's what is needed. 

Someone mentioned to me bringing in a sports psychologist. If they do, maybe they can get a group rate. 

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