By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
December 12, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Jarrett Brown says he was always a big fan of the Florida State Seminoles when he was growing up in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“I know everything about Florida State,” Brown said following Saturday’s practice inside the Caperton Indoor Facility. “I just think about the players like Peter Warrick. I was a big fan of Adrian McPherson - he was actually a backup of Chris Rix … Charlie Ward the Heisman winner, Warrick Dunn - I’m a fan of that school.”
Brown also knows a lot about retiring Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden.
“He’s been there all of my life. Whenever I think of Florida State, I think of Bobby Bowden,” Brown said. “He’s a legend. It makes it that much more fun going down and competing against his guys.”
In fact, Brown says he would have likely chosen Florida State if the opportunity would have presented itself.
“That was the school I wanted to go to but they didn’t recruit me,” Brown said. “I guess I wasn’t good enough.”
Brown has certainly been good enough for West Virginia - gunning for its fifth-straight bowl victory next month when the Mountaineers face Florida State in the 2010 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
Brown has had a hand in three of those bowl wins beginning with West Virginia’s appearance in the 2007 Gator Bowl against Georgia Tech. It was Brown’s 244-yard passing performance in a triple-overtime victory over Rutgers as a redshirt freshman that got the Mountaineers down to Jacksonville in the first place.
During his next two seasons in 2007 and 2008, Brown saw action in 19 games, accounting for 455 yards passing and 496 yards rushing as Pat White’s backup.
Finally, this year it was Jarrett Brown’s turn and he has responded.
Brown led West Virginia to nine regular season victories, a second place finish in the Big East, and the school’s eighth straight bowl appearance.
That’s not too bad for a Mountaineer football program some considered rudderless with White no longer leading the team.
Brown earned second team all-Big East honors after passing for 2,129 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009. He is one of only seven quarterbacks in school history to throw for more than 2,000 yards in a season. Surprisingly, Pat White isn’t one of them.
Brown says he has made steady improvement as the season went along.
“I thought I did a good job of trying to manage the game better – start throwing balls away when it’s not there and stop trying to take the bad sacks,” he said. “The injuries kind of slowed me down, but I was a better player at the end of the year than I was at the beginning of the year.”
Naturally there are things he wishes he could have done different with the benefit of hindsight.
“I knew what I was thinking, though,” Brown said. “That comes with the growing pains. I’m sure everyone does that.”
From the Colorado game on, Brown has endured a steady diet of blitzes. If fact, he’s seen so much pressure the remaining eight games of the year that anything retiring Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews decides to throw at it him won’t be anything he hasn’t seen before.
“I was better with my decision making and better with my anticipation of where I wanted to go with the ball,” Brown said. “I was better with my protection and things like that. You just mature as a player as the season goes on.”
Despite West Virginia selling all of its bowl tickets, Brown and his Mountaineer teammates will be facing a partisan Florida State crowd in Jacksonville on Jan. 1. But again that’s nothing new to West Virginia. The Mountaineers faced Georgia in its backyard in Atlanta in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. Last year, West Virginia beat North Carolina in Charlotte in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
“That’s why we play these games,” said Brown. “That makes it fun. It makes you feel like you are a veteran.”
Now a veteran himself, Brown understands that all of the attention will be on Bowden and Florida State when the two teams arrive in Jacksonville in a couple of weeks – and deservedly so.
“It really doesn’t surprise me just because he’s the second-most winningest coach of all time,” Brown said. “He’s already a legend and a College Hall of Fame coach.
“But they know who they’re facing, and I know they are going to come out and play hard,” Brown added.
Just as White did before him, Brown would like nothing more than to complete his Mountaineer career with a bowl victory. If that happens, it would put Brown with White as the only two quarterbacks in school history to win all of their bowl games.
“That is something that is not easily done,” Brown said. “Pat started it and I just want to put the cherry on top. It would mean a lot to the school, what kind of program we have, and what kind of tradition we want to keep going.”
Jill Kramer - BYU Postgame