Head coach Neal Brown has officially set his squad for the first match-up of the season against James Madison.
As announced by Brown last week, Austin Kendall will occupy the starting quarterback slot, with Jack Allison backing him up. Other recent developments, such as that of the eligibility of transfer Sean Ryan, are also reflected in the chart as well, with Ryan set to line up as the team’s X receiver.
“We would have been in a little bit of a bind if he was ruled ineligible, so we’ve been practicing like he was gonna be available,” Brown said. “He’s a guy that has good length. He played well down the stretch [for Temple], so this won’t be his first meaningful college action. He’s added some weight, some strength, and he’s been really productive for us in fall camp, and he’s a guy that will definitely factor into our gameplan.”
That change bumps T.J. Simmons into the slot, while Sam James and Tevin Bush will start at the Z and H spots, respectively.
Kennedy McKoy, who Brown says could be sitting on a big senior season, is listed at the team’s starting running back, followed by Martell Pettaway. Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield round out that position.
Jovani Haskins, who was named to the Mackey Award Watch List, is not named as a starter ahead of the season opener. Instead, Mike O’Laughlin, who has worked with the team’s starters in recent practices, gets the nod.
And while four starting spots on the offensive line are locked up, the right guard position is still up for grabs between John Hughes and Chase Behrndt.
“We’re gonna carry it into practice this week, see how it goes and determine who will be the starter, but both those guys will play,” Brown said.
Mountaineer fans can now have a better vision of the team’s new-look defense under Vic Koenning, which features a “bandit” and a “spear.”
The bandit position — which due to the suspension of VanDarius Cowan will be occupied by Quondarius Qualls — is a hybrid lineman/linebacker position that specializes in pass rushing. At the same time, JoVanni Stewart’s spear position — a defensive back/linebacker hybrid — will handle both short yardage coverage and blitzing responsibilities.
Nose guard Darius Stills and defensive tackle Reese Donahue will anchor the defensive line, while Keith Washington, Hakeem Bailey and Josh Norwood will bring experience to the secondary.
Brown confirmed Monday morning that junior cornerback Dreshun Miller doesn’t appear on the two-deep due to an injury, and there currently is no timetable for his return.
Not many surprises on special teams, as Evan Staley will take care of WVU’s kicking duties, with new transfer addition Josh Growden handling punts.
James and Sinkfield will be the Mountaineers’ returners against James Madison.
Brown broke down the depth chart and provided more insight into the Mountaineers’ matchup with the Dukes during his weekly Big 12 conference call. Listen to the audio from the call at the top of this page.
(Images of West Virginia’s week one depth chart are courtesy of WVUsports.com.)