Neal Brown Previews Kansas

Christopher Hall

West Virginia welcomes in the Kansas Jayhawks this Saturday at Mountaineer Field with kickoff scheduled for noon and broadcasting nationally on FOX.

The Jayhawks are looking for their first win of the season and, dating back to last season, are currently riding a seven-game skid with their last win coming during homecoming week against Texas Tech on October 26.

The Mountaineers and the Jayhawks were both idle last week, but Kansas received unfortunate news after head coach Les Miles announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. He is still day-to-day on whether he will make the trip to Morgantown or not. West Virginia head coach Neal Brown wished him a speedy recovery on Monday and Tuesday during media availabilities.

Offensively, the Jayhawks are led by running back Pookah Williams Jr. He eclipsed 1,000 yards on the ground the last two seasons but, this season, Kansas as a one-two punch with sophomore running back Velton Gardner leading the team with 182 yards averaging 5.1 yards per carry through the first three games of the season while Williams sits at 175 yards on 4.4 YPC.

“I think it all starts with them at running back. Two really talented running backs,” said Brown. “Pookah Williams – people talk about a lot – deservingly so. Two years in a row, all-league player. He’s electric, not only as a running back but as a kickoff returner as well. And then, Velton Gardner, who’s actually their leading rusher – I think he’s been really good in the early part of the season… They’ve got a big improving o-line.”

Brown also mentioned receiver Andrew Parchment and acknowledged his 132-yard and two touchdown performance last year against the Mountaineers.

“They’ll be multiple – spread the field out- tempo oriented. They’ve got a dual-threat quarterback (Miles Kendrick) that’s going to start the game.”

“Offensively, they’re led by their offensive coordinator Brent Dearmon,” said Brown. “Coach Dearmon, a successful former high school coach in the state of Alabama, did a really good job down in BC Rain, which is close to Mobile. Worked for Gus (Malzahn) at Auburn – you can see some of that lineage in the plays that they run there, and really a long history of having an explosive offense. (He) Did a really good job at the end of last year.”

Neal Brown is familiar with Kansas defensive coordinator DJ Eliot. Brown spent his two seasons (2013-14) at Kentucky as offensive coordinator while Eliot was on the staff as defensive coordinator, stating Eliot was someone he had a lot of “respect” for and a “really intelligent guy.”

Safeties Kenny Logan (26) and Davon Ferguson (18) lead the team in tackles with linebacker Denzel Feaster (15) and Dru Box (14) not far behind.

“They’re a multiple three-down defense. Very sound on what they do. Keep edges and really do a nice job as far as just being sound,” said Brown. “They’ve got a lot of experience there at linebacker. I think their safeties are really active, and they did some good things against us last year as well.”

West Virginia racked up 192 yards on the ground last year versus Kansas. The Mountaineers have made significant improvements jumping from 73.3 yards per game last season to averaging 177.0 yards this season. The Jayhawks are last in rush defense, allowing 249.0 yards per game. 

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