What about Brown?
Two games into his senior season some West Virginia University football fans were calling Jarrett Brown a first round draft pick next year. That was because he had just played two impressive games against Liberty and East Carolina in his first season as a starter. Even the most ardent Brown fan will have to rethink that stand after Saturday's performance.
In the Mountaineers' first road game of the year Brown threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a 40-31 loss to Auburn. That is almost a season's worth of turnovers by Pat White, the legend Brown is replacing. Making the evening even more difficult for Brown is that he was forced out of the game late in the fourth period with what has been reported to be a bruised shoulder. As difficult as it is to sugarcoat a five turnover performance, those numbers aren't all Brown's fault. A receiver running a bad route and two unlucky tips weighed in against Brown.
West Virginia stunned the 87,000 drenched fans who had exited the stadium at the scheduled game time due to a severe thunderstorm. The game was delayed for a little more than an hour and when it did begin it was the Mountaineers who were on fire. A one yard plunge and a 71 yard sprint by Noel Devine had WVU ahead 14-0. The game was less than five minutes old and the Mountaineers had run just seven plays. West Virginia added another touchdown in the wild first period and held a 21-10 lead.
WVU was poised to go ahead by perhaps a 28-10 margin in the second period when Brown was picked off deep in Auburn territory. Instead, Auburn used the Mountaineer miscues to get back in the game and trailed just 21-20 at the half. West Virginia jumped out to a 27-20 lead in the third period on another Devine touchdown. Tyler Bitancourt missed the point after and that point had WVU down in the fourth period 34-30 instead of 34-31. Who knows, had the Mountaineers only been trailing by three late in the game a safer strategy may have been employed.
Anyway, back to Brown. The guy is really talented, though flawed. His arm is special even though he continues to throw off his back foot. Most of his picks were from being aggressive. That is something good as long as he learns from this game. What we don't really know is how bad his injury may be. Coach Bill Stewart says it is a bruise of his non throwing shoulder. We have come to learn that we can't always believe what the coach says when it comes to injuries. According to the coach, defensive tackle Scooter Berry and linebacker Reed Williams were to be able to play Saturday night, but neither dressed.
The defense gets mixed reviews in this game. Without Berry and Williams in the lineup, the WVU defense held the heralded Auburn ground game to 100 yards rushing. That, fans, is an impressive stat. Not so impressive is the 300 yards allowed through the air. Still, West Virginia outgained the Tigers 509-400. It all goes to the turnovers which have been estimated to have caused a 27-35 point swing in the game.
Moving forward, WVU should be all right despite this loss. They went into as hostile an environment as they will see the entire season and physically whipped a pretty good team. Of course if those turnover numbers persist, outplaying and outscoring opponents will be two different things. Eliminate the mistakes and there is no reason the Mountaineers can't put together a six game wining streak to take into the November 13 showdown in Cincinnati.