Neal Brown seeing improvement in second scrimmage

Blue-Gold game quickly approaching

MORGANTOWN– With the annual Gold-Blue Scrimmage one week away, first-year WVU head football coach Neal Brown is seeing the improvements he, and his staff, was hoping to see as they take the Mountaineers through their first spring.

“It’s better,” Brown said when asked about the team’s running attack. “There’s only one way up from last week, though. But we were better.”

And, the former-Troy University head coach was quick to explain why.

“I think the thing today was (Josh) Sills was out there,” explained the coach.

“When we play Sills on one side and Colton (McKivitz) on the other side, there’s a good amount of leadership there.

“I think guys like (freshman) Briason Mays, (redshirt junior) Michael Brown, (junior) Chase (Behrndt), we’re playing him some at center, so those guys, the more reps they get, the better they are going to get.”

Brown and his staff will lead the Old Gold and Blue into their first Gold-Blue Scrimmage at 1 p.m. Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium. Prior to the game fans will be able to purchase jerseys, warm-ups and even helmets as the administrative staff will sponsor a team equipment sale beginning at 10 a.m. in the indoor practice facility.

WVU’s newest head coach was quick to give out praise following Saturday’s second controlled scrimmage.

Much of that went to redshirt freshman quarterback Trent Jackson.

“He threw the best balls down the field today, Trent did,” Brown explained. “So, we have to get better at quarterback. We’re too up-and-down at quarterback right now. We have some things that we do really, really well, and our best plays today were really good.

“But what happens is, at quarterback, you’re only as good as your bad plays, and our bad plays today were really bad; stuff that will get you beat. What you’re trying to do at quarterback is you want your bad plays just to be second down or just to be, ‘Hey, you go punt the ball.’ Does that make sense? And our bad plays were just too bad today, but the three guys that I didn’t mention, they’re doing some good things. Trent made the most plays throwing down the field today, so I mentioned him.”

Among the receivers that had good days on Saturday were redshirt freshmen Dillon Spalding, Randy Fields Jr., and Sam James while running backs Martell Pettaway, Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield continue to get better – senior Kennedy McKoy was held out of much of Saturday’s scrimmage.

Defensively, South Charleston’s Derrek Pitts, Fairmont’s Dante Stills, Canton McKinley’s (Ohio) Josh Chandler and redshirt sophomore transfer Taijh Alston continue to earn praise while Bridgeport’s Dylan Tonkery and redshirt sophomore transfer VanDarius Cowan appear to have locked in their playing time at linebacker.

“Well, first of all, the thing that sticks out to me is he (Pitts) loves to play,” said Brown. “He plays the game with great energy, he’s physical, he has to continue to gain weight, so he can play that way over the course of a 12-, 13-game season, 14-game season. But a lot of energy.

“The thing that I think he’s made improvement on is his study habits have been better, he’s preparing better, he knows what to do, he’s getting a feel on the little things like alignments, his pedal, things like that. He’s reading through the keys. I’m pleased with him.”

Tickets for Saturday’s final practice of the spring will be $10 each with a portion of the proceeds to benefit WVU Medicine Children’s. Since 1984, the Mountaineers have donated more than $740,000 to the cause.

Contact Jim Butta at