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Neal Brown Highlights the Mountaineers' First Scrimmage of Fall Camp

West Virginia head coach Neal Brown gives his thoughts on the Mountaineers performance in the first scrimmage of fall camp

Morgantown, WV – On the ninth practice of fall camp, the West Virginia University Mountaineer football program held its first intersquad scrimmage Thursday morning.

Head coach Neal Brown noted the team only tackled for about half of it while two-hand touch filled the remainder of the scrimmage. He then stated the day was the most intense work of fall camp, and it was the first day they practiced inside the stadium.

Tony Mathis Jr.

West Virginia running back Tony Mathis Jr. participating in team drills during fall camp. 

Brown noted running backs Tony Mathis and Jaylen Anderson were among the standouts on the offensive side of the ball along with freshman CJ Donaldson.

“CJ Donaldson and Jaylen Anderson really took significant step,” said Brown.

The two-deep in the running back room has Mathis at the top. Justin Johnson Jr is expected to help carry the load in the backfield, but Brown explained the sophomore did not get as much work. Meanwhile Jaylen Anderson, who was a late arrival in 2021, has continued to make plays since the spring. Donaldson has captivated the coaching staff, and although he is working with the running backs, he is expected to line up in multiple positions.

The receivers have a lot to prove in offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s AIR RAID offense. The unit has underperformed since Brown’s arrival in 2019, and according to Brown they were just “OK.” However, sophomore Reese Smith had a nice morning.

“He’s been as consistent as anybody through fall camp. He’s playing faster. He made some really nice plays down the field,” said Brown.

offensive line

Brown then turned his attention to the offensive line.

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“We had a few penalties we got to get cleaned up, but we had our moments there.”

The lack of positive comments about the O-line is concerning. James Gmiter was out with a minor injury and is expected to be back early next week but a tell was told when Brown began with his defensive standouts, noting Dante Stills would have had three or four sacks had quarterbacks been allowed to take contact, although Stills is poised to have an all-conference season.

The offense did work on some situational work, specifically third downs, which Brown stated, “the first and second group did some nice things,”, converted in goal line territory and did a nice job orchestrating the two-minute drill.

West Virginia middle linebacker Lee Kpogba. 

West Virginia middle linebacker Lee Kpogba. 

Moving over to the defense, Brown listed several standouts, beginning with the linebackers.

“(weakside linebacker) Lance Dixon was really active and he’s had a good four or five days. His best stretch as a Mountaineer from a consistency standpoint. I thought (middle linebacker) Lee Kpogba did a nice job of getting us lined up and communicating,” said Brown before later moving to the secondary. “I thought (safety) Marcis Floyd showed up and did some nice things today. (cornerback) Charles Woods as had a good three-to-five-day stretch. (safety) Hershey McLaurin, it was a big day for him, and I thought he showed up. He was physical and he tackled well. (corners) Rashad and Wesley were solid. (safety) David Mallinger did a nice job.”

The Mountaineers will have Friday off before resuming fall camp Saturday.

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