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West Virginia football preparing for QB Sanders

West Virginia Mountaineers football team does not know who will start at quarterback for Oklahoma State.
West Virginia Mountaineers football team does not know who will start at quarterback for Oklahoma State.

West Virginia enters the Big 12 Conference schedule with some uncertainty when it comes to what starting quarterback Oklahoma State could trot out Saturday.

The starter Spencer Sanders played only 18 snaps before leaving the opener against Tulsa with a lower extremity injury. The Cowboy then used two different signal callers in Ethan Bullock and Shane Illingworth to get a hard-fought win over Tulsa 16-7.

It is a difficult task for any backup, but especially considering the current climate with the COVID-19 restrictions and the minimized practice time. Both of the Oklahoma State backups were newcomers to the program which made things even more challenging.

“It’s extremely difficult,” West Virginia head coach Neal Brown said.

Brown would know as he dealt with an injury to his starting quarterback Austin Kendall in the first series of the Iowa State game last season and the rest of the offense was thrown out of sync because of it. The Mountaineers lost that game 38-14 with backup Jack Allison tossing 18-24 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

“We were never in sync for that entire game. We weren’t very good but we weren’t as bad as we looked in that game,” Brown said.

Brown believes that what Oklahoma State put on the field against Tulsa will not be what the Mountaineers encounter this Saturday on Stillwater. There is simply too much talent across the board.

“I don’t think that was an accurate representation of who they are offensively. I expect them to be as a unit much, much better,” he said.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy has stated that Sanders was set to sit out practice Tuesday in a medical boot but the expectation was that he would rejoin practice today. While it’s uncertain if Sanders will play, the Mountaineers are preparing to see him regardless.

“I think that’s how you’ve got to go about it. We’ll adjust if he doesn’t, but we’ll game plan as if he is going to play,” Brown said.

If Sanders does play he presents a very difficult matchup for West Virginia as he is a true dual threat option that rushed for 718 yards last season in 11 total games. He also tossed for 2,064 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season as the starter for the Cowboys.

“He’s got elite speed for the quarterback position. You saw that on a couple of runs he had early in the contest on Saturday. Also in the games last year. He can really run the football, he’s a threat on called runs or scramble situations,” Brown said. “That’s why you go about preparing as if he’s the starter.”

West Virginia is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday with the game televised by ABC.


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