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Three Things West Virginia Coach Neal Brown Said ahead of the Mountaineers’ Game against OSU

On Ollie Gordon, OSU’s D and an injury update.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

A few short weeks ago, the Cowboys’ trip to Morgantown didn’t seem as if it would matter much in the Big 12 title picture, but the winner of Saturday’s game certainly stays in the hunt for a trip to Arlington.

Oklahoma State plays West Virginia at 2:30 p.m. (Central) Saturday in Morgantown. Both teams enter at 2-1 in Big 12 play after the Mountaineers were beat via Hail Mary in Houston last week. The Cowboys, meanwhile, enter on a two-game winning streak.

WVU coach Neal Brown met with the media this week to preview the game. Here are three things that stood out.

Gordon ‘Runs as Hard as Anybody in Our League’

If there was one Big 12 coach who got a preview of the Ollie Gordon era of OSU football, it was Neal Brown.

As a true freshman in a torrential downpour last season, Gordon took a season-high 17 carries for 136 yards and a touchdown. That’s a yardage total Gordon matched against Kansas State two weeks ago before surpassing it with a 168-yard outburst (paired with 116 receiving yards) last week against the Jayhawks.

Gordon won’t surprise the Mountaineers this season, as he enters Saturday’s contest as a reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, the Doak Walker National Running Back of the Week and the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week.

Brown had high praise for Gordon this week.

“I think the difference for them has been Ollie Gordon at running back,” Brown said. “He was special last week, and he’s a tough tackle. Runs as hard as anybody in our league.”

OSU’s Linebacker ‘Most Talented Group’ Mountaineers Have Played

The Cowboy defense gave up a handful of big touchdowns to the Jayhawks last week, but when they needed to buckle down late, the Pokes got it done.

The past two weekends have seen OSU’s D intercept five passes and hold teams to 1-for-6 on fourth-down attempts.

Brown made note of the steps forward OSU’s defense has made this season in Bryan Nardo’s 3-3-5 scheme. He also gave a glowing review of OSU’s linebacking group.

“If you look at them, they’ve made a lot of progress,” Brown said. “It starts with how they’re playing up front. They’ve got really good length, and they’re playing fundamental football. They’re playing with really good hands. They’re getting off the ball.

“Then at linebacker, I think this may be the most talented group across the board that we’ve played. Penn State had some good guys, don’t get me wrong, but this group across the board can really play. Everything funnels to their middle safety, the [Kendal] Daniels kid. He’s really good. Then I think at corner, it’ll be a tough match for us.”

Mountaineers Likely Getting Highly Touted Left Tackle Back

The Mountaineers were without the starting left side of their offensive line in Houston, but it sounds like one of those behemoths is expected to play against Oklahoma State.

Brown said he thinks Wyatt Milum, WVU’s starting left tackle, will be back this week. A 6-foot-6, 312-pound junior, Milum was a four-star prospect with offers to Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Oregon and others before electing to stay in his home state for college ball.

Among offensive tackles with at least 250 snaps played, Milum’s 79.8 PFF grade this season ranks 12th nationally and tops in the Big 12.

It doesn’t, though, sound like the Mountaineers will have starting left guard Tomas Rimac back, as Brown said it would be more likely Rimac is back for West Virginia’s game against UCF on Oct. 28.

West Virginia was also without safety Aubrey Burks against Houston. Brown said Burks was limited in practice Monday.

“Hopefully he’ll progress and be available,” Brown said.

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