West Virginia's Motivation Versus TCU is Continued Improvement
Morgantown, WV – West Virginia head coach Neal Brown told his team during the halftime of the lopsided loss to Missouri that he wanted to see his team make improvements week in and week out. While at times it’s been tough to see the progress being made in the midst of all these losses, especially on the offense, they have taken steps in the right direction.
This will be an interesting test for the Mountaineers this weekend. In a sense, there is nothing to play for as far as postseason implications are concerned, but sending the seniors out with a win would be special for a group that bought into Neal Brown’s system.
It should also go without saying that a 5-7 final record and a win on the road against a surging TCU team would be a lasting silver lining taken into the offseason.
“We’re trying to get better. If you look at it, most of our teams back for multiple years,’’ said Brown. “I believe our guys will show up and play hard. Really the only issue I’ve had with our team is how we played early in the Texas Tech game. And so, I don’t know why this week would be any different. I think it’s about two things are far as a motivation factor is, sending the seniors out in a positive manner and then having a point - a building block going into our offseason which is really important for us.”
Senior defensive tackle Reese Donahue cited the 2016 Cactus Bowl as an example of what finishing the season with a win can do for the following year.
“If you look back at the Cactus Bowl, a year right before I got here, it set up a 10-2 season, said Donahue. “So, for us, it’s important to finish strong and keep that momentum going into the offseason."
Reese may not enjoy the spoils of what can possibly happen next year, but for the Milton, West Virginia native, the motivation is simple and undeniable.
“Ultimately it’s easy for me. I’m an in-state kid, this is all I ever wanted to do,” said Donahue. “Playing here is my dream. So, it’s easy to finish strong. It’s easy to put your heart and soul into this because this is all I ever wanted to do.”
On the other side of the ball, TCU is sitting at 5-6 and playing for its postseason lives and on Senior Day no less. Matching that energy may be tough for a 4-7 team but it can signify where the current state of the program is - and more importantly - where it is going.
The product they put out on the field this weekend isn’t necessarily an indication of what’s to come for the 2020 season, but it will show who is committed and who’s not and how much work the coaching staff has in front of them when it comes to changing the culture.
Redshirt freshman Kwantel Raines has entered the transfer portal after not dressing the last two games. There is little doubt even more players will take the route. How many? Time will tell.
The future does look bright for the Mountaineers, but seeing who is committed to the program will be evident this weekend. However, these are their last practices and game reps until spring. Making sure every rep counts will bode well heading into next year.
It's not so much that West Virginia needs to win, but a noticeable showing of effort and commitment to the future would bode well for 2020.
West Virginia and TCU kickoff Friday at 4:15 on ESPN.