Not all college football head coaches like Thursday night games.
But Neal Brown and Matt Rhule aren’t among the dissidents.
On the contrary, West Virginia University’s Brown and Baylor’s Rhule are eager to play each other at 8 p.m. Thursday (ESPN) in McLane Stadium at Waco, Texas.
“If you are a guy like me that came up through the [Mid-American Conference] and the American,” said Rhule, during the weekly Big 12 conference call, “it is part and parcel of your training.
“I was used to doing that off of four or five days [to prepare]. So, doing it with 10 days it gives you enough. Just don’t do too much. Don’t let the extra time mess you up.”
For WVU’s Brown, it’s a chance for the Mountaineers to break a three-game losing streak and hit the reset button for the rest of the 2019 season.
“That’s the hope,” said Brown with a chuckle. “It can go one of two ways. It’s really good or really bad. I think it just depends how you look at it.
“I like the Thursday night games. They mess up your week because I forgot all about this [conference] call. In my mind, today [Monday] is Wednesday and we don’t have a conference call on Wednesday. So, I had to be reminded.”
He didn’t mind the reminder.
That’s how much Brown likes Thursday night games.
“I grew up watching Thursday night football and it was always a big deal,” said the 39-year-old coach. “We play it up to our kids. We are the only college game on [television]. So it’s a great opportunity for us and what we’re kind of phrasing as a ‘new season’ to try to get it kicked off.”
That’s precisely what undefeated (7-0) and 12th-ranked Baylor will be trying to curtail.
“Offensively, the first thing that stands out,” said Rhule, “is Neal Brown and his offensive staff do a tremendous job of keeping you off-balance with screens, keep you off-balance with deep balls and just a bunch of stuff that you hate to see when you turn the videotape on.
“They do it and they do it well. If you look at them and the games they have played recently, they have been close ballgames at halftime — three- or four-point games — and, then, they have been close going into the fourth quarter.”
Rhule sees a youthful opponent that is gaining confidence despite a losing streak.
“I think each week they are getting more and more confident as they install their system,” continued Rhule. “But I think the biggest thing is just the schematics are really difficult.
“And their offensive line does a great job of keeping their quarterback upright. They don’t give up sacks. Which is how we play defense this year — getting after the quarterback. They don’t allow people to get after their quarterback.”
Although Baylor has 25 sacks in seven games, WVU has allowed only 11 sacks.
That’s one reason Brown is still optimistic.
“Our mood is fine,” he said. “We understand where we’re going. We chose the slogan ‘Trust the climb’ for a reason. We knew there was going to be some adversity, some hiccups along the way. We feel like we’re getting better. We’ve made progress. Our players are eager to get back on the field.”
What will happen?
I see WVU losing 41-24.
Season record: 12-3