WVU’s Benton to miss rest of season
Junior college transfer and starting strong-side linebacker Charlie Benton, a redshirt freshman who enrolled in January, is lost for the season.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Mountaineer coach Dana Holgorsen. “He’s a three [years]-for-three [seasons of eligibility] guy. He had a good spring and was going to get better and better, but he’s going to have to have [knee] surgery and is lost for the year.”
Benton was credited with two assisted tackles on Saturday.
The soothing news for the team is when Benton left the game, West Virginia still fared well in part by going to a four-man defensive front. Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said on Saturday he did that partially to give Benton’s backup, Shea Campbell, a rest.
“We have seven or eight guys we rotated in there,” Holgorsen said. “Haven’t been able to do that since I’ve been here. One of the reasons why West Virginia went to the 3-3 [scheme] is it’s hard to find good D-linemen. I think we stumbled on some good ones. We hit on some of the recruits that were younger and were able to get some older guys as well.
“We knew Tennessee was going to get big on us and it was appealing to get a 260-pound guy in there as opposed to a 195-200 pound guy, which is what we have to do in the scheme we play the majority of the time.”
The coaching staff made the entire line, which featured USC transfer Kenny Bigelow, the team’s defensive player of the week.
ASSESSESING YOUNGSTOWN STATE: Holgorsen said he expects Saturday’s opponent, Youngstown State (0-1), to follow Tennessee’s game plan of being methodical offensively to try and keep the Mountaineer offense off the field.
“They run a pretty similar offense to what Tennessee did last week,” Holgorsen said. “I don’t see a lot of teams in the Big 12 doing that though. We’re all pretty familiar with what offenses do in the Big 12. We had a decent day, but I think we’re still middle-of-the pack offensively when it comes to stats. I think Oklahoma and Oklahoma State had 5,000 yards each.”
While WVU is No. 1 in the league in passing offense, the Mountaineers are No. 4 in total offense and No. 5 in scoring offense. Ohio State had 732 yards in a 58-17 win over Missouri State, Oklahoma had 650 in a 63-14 win over Florida Atlantic and Baylor had 606 in a 55-27 win against Abilene Christian. West Virginia had 547 against Tennessee.
Quarterback Will Grier, by the way, is No. 1 in the Big 12 in total offense and passing offense (429 yards) and David Sills is No. 1 in receptions a game (7) and receiving yards a game (140).
On Monday, the Big 12 named Grier the league’s Offensive Player of the Week.
HOLGORSEN PLEASED WITH EFFICIENCY: West Virginia ran 61 plays in its 40-14 victory over Tennessee. Of those 61, only four were for negative yardage. Holgorsen said he was pleased with the offense’s efficiency.
“I thought it was really good in the second half,” Holgorsen said. “We possessed the ball better in the second half. In the first half, we were 0 for 3 on critical downs. We want to finish drives with touchdowns and in the first half we were in the red zone twice and had to settle for two field goals -- although I thought our field goal unit was spectacular on the day.
“But in the second half, we finished both drives in the red zone with touchdowns. That was efficient. We were 5 for 6 on critical downs. So, other than the one turnover (a fumble by Kennedy McKoy), I thought we were incredibly efficient in the second half.”