Holgorsen, Depth Chart Reveal Changes For WVU Bowl Lineup
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Ordinarily, West Virginia’s football depth chart is about as revealing as an 1890s bathing suit.
Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen routinely tells listeners to ignore it, and in many cases it is not reflective of the current status of the team. However, the chart took on new significance on Wednesday when its contents were backstopped, and in some cases augmented, by Holgorsen’s comments concerning West Virginia’s anticipated lineups for the CampingWorld Bowl. With three starters electing to skip the game, another out with injury and the new redshirt rule in place allowing players to participate in up to four games while still preserving a year of eligibility, WVU is expected to see several new faces in its lineup in Orlando against Syracuse on Dec. 28.
“This new redshirt rule, it’s awesome,” Holgorsen gushed. “We’d be in some deep crap if I didn’t have that rule right now. Trey (Lowe III) gets to play, and he’s going to play, and I can’t wait to see what he does. Sam (James) is going to play and redshirt, Bryce (Wheaton) is going to play and redshirt, Mike Brown, right now, is starting at right guard, he’s going to play and redshirt, T.J. Banks is going to play and redshirt, Briason Mays is our backup center right now, he’s probably going to play, Kwantel Raines is going to play.”
Some of those players are in the picture due to the decisions of Will Grier, Yodny Cajuste and Gary Jennings to bypass the game. Others are in play due to injuries, while a further pair are continuing to climb back from major injuries and could see slightly increased roles.
“I think (Brendan) Ferns and (Quondarius) Qualls have taken that next step, and they’re ready,” defensive coordinator Tony Gibson observed of the latter duo. “We should be able to get something out of them.”
The picture still isn’t 100% clear. While Holgorsen said Mike Brown is the starting right guard at the moment, the depth chart lists him as the backup at left guard, with Isaiah Hardy on the right side, backstopped by Joe Brown. The offensive line mixed and matched a good bit in the last two games of the regular season, however, so no matter how it starts out, it could well finish the game with a different configuration.
Here are some other depth chart nuggets and potential items to watch for as West Virginia plugs a number of youngsters into its Camping World Bowl plans.
— TJ Simmons is slated to take over Gary Jennings’ wide receiver spot, with James and Wheaton joining Dominique Maiden and Tevin Bush as the first level backups.
— Quondarius Qualls will give WVU a bit more size at Sam linebacker as it attempts to slow Syracuse’s running game. Ferns, while not listed on the depth chart, is expected to see time at mike backer.
— Derrek Pitts, who shuffled back and forth in the secondary during the season, is listed as a backup at cornerback. He could play there or at bandit, but his presence at corner gives the Mountaineers four players at a position where lack of depth stung throughout the season.
— While Jack Allison is expected to start at quarterback, Hologrsen was adamant that Trey Lowe will see time. Smokescreen, or reality?
“Trey gets to play, and he’s going to play, and I can’t wait to see what he does,” Holgorsen said. “Those guys are going to play, and I’m happy with both of them. I’m going to keep practicing them and come up with a good plan and go execute it.”
— Even with good depth along the defensive front, freshman James Gmiter might see some snaps, especially in WVU’s short yardage packages.
— Raines has been getting work at multiple safety positions, and could get a call on dime packages in certain situations.
— Holgorsen listed freshman Briason Mays as WVU’s backup center, although Jacob Buccigrossi still occupies that spot on the depth chart.
— Dylan Tonkery’s groin injury will keep him out of the bowl game, putting the Mountaineers another starter down going in to the contest.