WVU football: Mountaineers try to stay healthy
MORGANTOWN - West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday all but three of his players are back at practice before Saturday's game against TCU.
The second-year coach said safety Travis Bell (shoulder), linebacker Jewone Snow (shoulder) and cornerback Avery Williams (neck) are out for the season. Bell, a junior, and Williams and Snow, both sophomores, are eligible to apply for medical redshirts.
Williams is able, and more likely, to take a traditional redshirt because he hasn't taken one yet for a developmental year. He hasn't played this season, when he was going to be asked to provide depth at his position. He only played five games and made three tackles last season.
Bell played the first three games this season and had nine tackles, 11/2 tackles for a loss and a sack.
He was a key in WVU's pass defense package that the team hasn't been able to use lately.
Bell's injury moved backup cornerback Ickey Banks to safety behind freshman Karl Joseph, but Banks played cornerback in the loss to Kansas State.
WVU said Snow, who redshirted as a freshman in 2011, can apply for the medical redshirt even though he's played in four games.
He missed the first two games, played the next four and then sat out against Kansas State, but WVU said Snow's eligible for the hardship waiver because he played a permissible amount of games in just the first half of the season.
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HOLGORSEN DIDN'T rule junior cornerback Brodrick Jenkins out Saturday, like he did two weeks ago when he said Jenkins had a knee injury that would keep him out against Kansas State. Holgorsen said Jenkins would practice, but didn't say if he'd play or start.
The Mountaineers have also played recently without defensive end Will Clarke and running back Shawne Alston, but both have been practicing. Clarke missed the Texas Tech game, but returned as a reserve against Kansas State. Alston has missed the past four games and played only a few snaps before that against Maryland.
Alston said on Twitter last week he would play when the Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) host TCU (5-3, 2-3) at 3 p.m. Saturday (WVAH).
"We're going to see if he can practice," Holgorsen said. "We're not going to dress him out and say that we hope he can play. He's going to have to practice. We want to get him to practice so he can play in a game. It's been that way for a month. This week, we are going to practice him and try to incorporate him. If it looks good, then we will play him. If he's out there hobbling around, then we won't play him. "
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APART FROM a return to form for a variety of players, Holgorsen said to expect no other differences following WVU's second open week of the season.
"Well, since we decided not to switch back to a 3-3 stack or switch to a 4-2-5 and we decided not to run the option or go 100 percent empty (backfield) since we had a little bit of success with it against Baylor, we probably didn't change a whole lot," Holgorsen said. "We hope they're refreshed and their body language is good and their mentality is good and we hope their confidence is back up and the guys are excited about playing."
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THE MOUNTAINEERS had Monday off, which is part of their routine, and they were spared from practicing in the wind and cold rain. Snow fell throughout Tuesday on campus, though it had slowed, the Mountaineers practiced at the indoor facility.
"Preparation for Rutgers," Holgorsen said, jokingly referencing last year's 41-31 win in snow and wind at Rutgers. "It was like this this time last year and we managed to go outside in a very tough environment at Rutgers with all kinds of weather, be it rain, sleet, snow or wind, and it was just chaos against a tough opponent, but we went outside and did OK."
Holgorsen said the Mountaineers wouldn't hide from the elements and that they'd be outside to get used to the weather. Rain is expected the rest of the week, though it may clear out in time for Saturday's game.
"We'll do some work inside," he said. "It's the same situation for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New England Patriots, the New York Jets, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles - you get my point. You have to deal with the weather. We're not going to panic about it."
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PART OF THE open week for assistant coaches was spent recruiting. Holgorsen sent out four last Monday and everyone over the weekend. It seemed like useful timing because the Mountaineers, on a losing streak, could make use of evaluation days within the quiet period.
Holgorsen said it was more beneficial for the coaches than prospective players.
"We're in the same areas we've been before, but the more you evaluate, the more you get in and see kids you hadn't seen yet for the first time," he said.
The Mountaineers have a handful of players from the Big 12 region, but they've been scooped up late in recruiting or welcomed as walk-ons. This is the first time Holgorsen has sent his coaches through a full season in the southwest with the Big 12 as WVU's home conference. The recruiting is perhaps more about future recruiting classes than the next one.
"Just because you see West Virginia guys doesn't mean all of a sudden you want to go to West Virginia." Holgorsen said. "These kids have many options in many parts of the country. This allowed us to put eyes on them and allowed us to evaluate them.
"It puts us in position to recruit them, which means we've got to spend many hours recruiting these guys the next two months. How it ends up will play out like any other recruiting battle."