Bruise Brothers Debut A Good One For WVU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Good debut for WVU’s “Bruise Brothers,” Dante and Darius Stills, on the defensive line together in Saturday’s victory over Tennessee.
“I thought Darius played really well,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson of his No. 2 nose guard. “Darius made some huge plays in an important time of that game.”
And Dante, making his debut as a true freshman after a career with his brother at Fairmont Senior?
“It was good. He got an early shot against (Tennessee sophomore offensive lineman) Trey Smith, who is a really good offensive lineman for Tennessee. He held his own,” Gibson said. “I don’t think any moment is too big for him. I think he’s confident in what he does and with his talent. I think he’s going to be a really, really, really good player here.”
Overlooked in the mix that produced 12 tackles for losses in the game, seven of them from the defensive line (“I can’t remember seeing that before,” Gibson would say), was the job turned in by tackle Reese Donahue.
“Donahue was a guy that nobody has really talked about. Reese graded out the best of all our d-linemen,” Gibson said. “Reese strains, as we all know. I thought the whole front played extremely well.
“They did some things, at times, that may have hurt us a little bit just like everybody — the safeties, the linebackers, the corners. But, overall, I was very impressed with the way they played and with the energy that they played with.”
* * * * * *
With the injury to linebacker Charlie Benton 18 plays into his first start at WVU after transferring from junior college, which resulted in season-ending ACL surgery, the linebacking corps got thinner than it was and required some adjustments to the depth chart.
The one release this week showed Exree Loe, a redshirt freshman out of Johnstown, Pa., starting ahead former Morgantown High’s Shea Campbell but Gibson said that isn’t the case.
“Loe is going to be a good one, but he’s not ready for that yet,” Gibson said of the converted safety.
Campbell will get the start.
‘”Shea Campbell did a nice job of going in there,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “The kid had never played college football before, and Shea went in there and did a good job. Guys like (redshirt freshman) Exree Loe and (freshman) Josh Chandler, who are freshmen, need to quit being freshmen and grow up and play ball.
“Guys like (junior) Adam Hensley and (redshirt sophomore) Zach Sandwisch, who have been here for three years now, need to produce. They need to earn their scholarship, and they need to produce.”
And there is more help not far away.
“We still have (senior Quondarius) Qualls and (redshirt sophomore Brendan) Ferns, who are rehabbing their tails off, who are getting closer to being able to get out there and play football. So, it’s part of it, but that’s why we have 85 scholarships, and guys who are the next guy up need to step up and play, and I expect them to do that,” Holgorsen said.
When asked when the two might be expected back, his reply was simply “I’ll let you know when we’re getting close. But we’re not there yet.”
* * * * * *
West Virginia showed a few new twists in its opening victory over Tennessee, but with a lower level opponent in Youngstown State coming to town this week, don’t look for too much more of that.
But, at the same time, don’t think Holgorsen doesn’t have more up his sleeve.
Yes, he featured tight ends and on the defensive side they even showed a four-game front instead of the traditional three down linemen. And yes they used all four running backs and some different formations than they had shown in the past, but this is week two and how much do you change from week to week.
“I don’t know how many people truly change what they do from Game 1 to Game 12, really. There are only so many hours in a day and so many practice reps in a day,” Holgorsen said. “There are probably still some things out there — not even probably — there are things out there that we didn’t show.
“Especially with the veteran group that we have, and these have already been talked about, but are some changes offensively, some changes defensively that we threw out there that are noticeable, and there are probably more up our sleeve that will come down the road,” Holgorsen continued.
“But that’s not going to be stuff that we install right now, that’s been stuff that’s been worked on all spring and all summer and all camp. When we feel like it’s appropriate to bring some of the new stuff out, then we will. I’m sure Youngstown and our futures are the same way.”