WVU’s Donahue Keeping Silver Lining Attitude In Rebuilding
COLUMBIA, Mo. – As a senior, Reese Donahue is an avowed leader of the 2019 football team. The Milton, West Virginia, native has earned that position over a four-year career in which he has done the right thing and made the right choice time and again, both off the field and on. If anyone has also earned the right for a memorable final season in a college uniform, it’s him.
That, however, is not the outlook right now for Donahue and his Mountaineers. Smack dab at the beginning of a rebuilding and retooling effort, not just of the team, but of the entire program, Donahue has been caught by a quirk of fate and timing. It would be easy for him, or anyone, to become disgruntled. After all, he’s not likely to see tangible benefits, at least in terms of a high win total, in his final season at WVU.
Of course, he’s not going to throw in the towel or become a problem, and that’s what makes him the leader he is. And that’s just what will help this team down the road – finding out how this foundation squad responds to early season adversity. Thus is was that following the Missouri loss, Donahue was looking for a silver lining and an improvement path.
“I think as those young guys get more reps, it will be a positive for us,” said Donahue, who had two tackles while splitting time with Dante Stills in the contest. “If you have a 90 snaps a game, that’s a lot [to split up], even at the nose position. Eventually that will catch up to us.”
That some of those reps came at the end of a blowout loss wasn’t the biggest factor on Donahue’s mind. Instead, it was addressing how West Virginia will fill the big gap left by the injury to Taijh Alston, who suffered what appeared to be a knee injury in the first half. Alston had to ride off the field on a cart, and while no details are yet available, it had all the looks of a long-term issue.
Donahue first noted the loss on a personal level before he turned to the backup factor.
“We love Taijh on and off the field. I’m praying for him,. He’s a great player, and leaves some big shoes to fill. I know he wants the best for us, and we are going to persevere. He’s going to do the same.”
After Alston went down, WVU relied on the two-man rotation of Jeffery Pooler and Reuben Jones at end. The Mountaineers played Stone Wolfley some at tackle late in the game, and Donahue could also slide out to end if need be in future games. The Mountaineers may also have to try to get Tavis Lee, who did not make the trip, ready for some backup service this Saturday. Either way, though, this is a big loss for the Mountaineers.
Donahue also addressed tackling, which was a major problem against the Tigers. Granted, Mizzou quarterback Kelly Bryant is a tough target, combining excellent moves with strength to turn at least three potential sacks into big gains for his team, but the Mountaineer senior wasn’t relying on that as a crutch.
“He’s a really good quarterback, one of the best we will see all year, but that does not give us an excuse for our bad tackling. This week we are going to get after tackling a little better,” Donahue said forcefully. “It all comes down to technique and repping it in practice and practicing good habits. You can’t go full contact all the time in practice, and it’s easy to tag off when we are in uppers and helmets. We need to emphasize form tackling in all situations. That’s something we can do and practice every single day. It will be a big emphasis this week.”