Part of being a human is making mistakes, and that especially goes for being a football player. The hope is that the mistakes are minimal and not the memorable kind that hurt your team in any significant way.
West Virginia’s Briason Mays was not so fortunate in that regard last week.
Mays, a redshirt freshman from Tennessee, has been WVU’s center for most of the 2019 season and with that has come some ups and some downs. Last Thursday at Baylor, however, the downs were ones that stuck out in a big way.
Once in each half, with the Mountaineers driving in BU territory, Mays sent a snap sailing through the backfield for a massive loss. Combined, those two bad snaps ended up costing West Virginia 48 yards and both times ended potential scoring drives for the Mountaineers.
After the game, first-year WVU coach Neal Brown did not offer too many details of what happened other than to say, “Neither of them were supposed to be snapped yet. I can’t explain them, honestly.”
Earlier this week, after having time to analyze and figure out what the problem was for Mays on those two plays, offensive coordinator Matt Moore — who doubles as WVU’s offensive line coach — went into detail about what he saw and what the conversations have been like with his freshman center since last Thursday.
“It’s a lot on a young guy when you make a couple of mistakes like that when you’re down in the red zone, but as a young player you’ve got to learn from it,” Moore said. “That’s what I talked to him about. You’ve got to learn from it and to become a really good player you’ve got to learn from those mistakes. You’ve got to overcome them and that’s part of becoming a man.
“He’s taking it in stride. It brothers him and it hurts him, and it should. If you’re invested, it should hurt. That wasn’t the reason we lost and that’s what I told him.”
The first of the two incidents came in the first half with WVU in the Wildcat formation and running back Kennedy McKoy back to receive the snap. The second came early in the second half after West Virginia forced a Baylor turnover on the first play of the third quarter. The Mountaineers had all the momentum at that point and were driving to tie the game, but Mays fired the ball past an unready Austin Kendall before the Bears recovered near midfield.
“The first snap, it was high. He really didn’t have a snap that was off-mark all night except for one,” Moore said. “Usually, guys that do that kind of spray them around everywhere and you’re worried about it, but I had no worries about it. I think once he got in there and was going against that nose guard — who is a big, strong dude — he was trying to come off the ball too hard and that’s what happened. You get your butt up in the air and it sailed on him. Unfortunately in the game, you see it happen on Sundays and you see it happen on Saturdays. He has been really consistent with his snaps, it is something he has got a lot better at, but that one was a little errant.
“The second one, it wasn’t a bad snap — he thought the quarterback was ready for the ball and he wasn’t. We’re down toward the end zone and getting in the red zone. It was loud and he thought he heard the quarterback clap and the quarterback didn’t clap. It’s unfortunate that things like that happen to us in that situation where we’ve got a chance to [score].”