Anyone who thinks bowl eligibility is assured for West Virginia has not put in the same amount of time scouting Kansas as Neal Brown.
The coach of the Mountaineers (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) sees massive improvement in the Jayhawks (2-9, 1-7).
Each team posted wins over Texas, giving Brown a common opponent to measure the teams against. West Virginia will seek to qualify for a bowl bid in their Saturday matchup at Lawrence, Kan.
Brown said most obvious is the impact first-year coach Lance Leipold has provided after previously preparing for the Kansas coach’s schemes. Brown’s last game as Troy’s coach in 2018 resulted in a Dollar General Bowl victory over Buffalo, then coached by Leipold.
“If you look at what they did at Buffalo in getting that to its peak,” said Brown, “they are great talent evaluators, schematically they do a really good job and their kids always play extremely hard. That’s no different than what they are doing (at Kansas).”
Inconsistency has afflicted the Mountaineers all season. They are coming off a performance Brown described as “clean” after executing 87 snaps with no turnovers and three penalties while amassing 459 yards in beating Texas 31-23.
West Virginia will attempt to match its longest win streak (two) of the season behind Jarret Doege, who leads the Big 12 in passing with a 249-yard average but has thrown a league-high 10 interceptions against 16 touchdowns. Leddie Brown averages 83 yards per game rushing and gained a season-high 158 yards against Texas.
Coming off its stunning overtime upset of Texas, Kansas played TCU to the wire before falling 31-28. In that game, Jalon Daniels burned his redshirt with his second start and completed 22 of 30 passes for 255 yards. He missed early practices this week while nursing some minor ailments but is expected to play.
Daniels’ favorite target has been Kwamie Lassiter, who ranks fifth all-time at Kansas in receptions (141).
The Jayhawks, however, could be without their top rusher, Devin Neal, because of an injury he suffered at TCU. Amauri Pesek-Hickson would be next up out of a thin corps of rushers after subbing in for Neal.
“When things come like that, it’s next man up,” Lassiter said. “I’m going to preach that every day as long as I’m playing football. So, it’s next man up. We trusted Amauri and we ran with it.”
Despite its recent surge, Kansas ranks last in the Big 12 on offense and defense in scoring and yards.
–Field Level Media