MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A week after facing his predecessor at West Virginia, Mountaineers defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is taking on his cousin.
Kansas offensive coordinator Les Koenning is a second cousin of Vic. However, the two do not know each other from annual meetings at the family reunion. If they had, there may have been a rumble between aunts and uncles.
“He says it ‘Kenning,’” said Vic, who pronounces his name ‘Ko-ning.’
Pronunciation is not the basis of where things went sour between the respective branches of the family tree.
As Vic explains it, their families went in different directions decades ago due to a Texas-sized quarrel.
“How the story goes – I’ll make a long story real short – a long time ago in East Texas, there was a couple brothers on this farm,” Koenning said. “Either one of them pulled a knife on a fist fight or one of them pulled a gun on a knife fight. And one of them said, ‘Hey, I’m out of here.’ I’m sure that was my relative.”
Vic’s side of the family settled in the San Antonio region, while Les’ family hails from the Houston area. The two didn’t meet until seeing one another at a coaching convention. In a moment apparently akin to “The Parent Trap,” they realized that they bore more than a passing physical resemblance.
“I said ‘You’ve got to be related,’” Vic said. “We’ve talked a bunch, though not recently, and gotten to be acquaintances. I talked to his dad and he said ‘Yeah, I basically heard that story from my daddy, so it must be true.’”
MetroNews reached out to Kansas for the ‘Kenning’ side of the story, but Jayhawks coach Les Miles doesn’t let his coordinators speak to the media during the season.
Campbell coming through
Senior Shea Campbell saw his most action of the season against North Carolina State, playing 34 snaps at middle linebacker. Koenning is happy with what the Morgantown High grad and former walk-on is giving him at the position.
“We haven’t been as productive there as we feel like we need to be,” Koenning said. “We’re trying to see what the guys can do best and feature that. We’ve made some mistakes in alignment that’s hurt on runs to the boundary side.
“Shea has come in and done a good job. He’s recovered finally from an injury in camp. He had a really good game and I’d look for him to play 50-50 there, at least.”
Dylan Tonkery has started all three games at the position, and Jake Abbott went into the year ahead of Campbell on the depth chart. Campbell played eight snaps at Missouri and made the most of it, finishing with two tackles, including one for a loss.
His playing time skyrocketed against the Wolfpack. Campbell answered the bell with four tackles and got in with JoVanni Stewart on another tackle for loss.
Pettaway ‘not in doghouse’
Running back Martell Pettaway did not play a snap against N.C. State despite dressing out for the game. But Brown insists that it’s not what it looks like on the surface.
“He’s not in the doghouse or anything. We still believe in him,” Brown said. “We didn’t use our two-back packages last week. We didn’t feel that was a good fit for North Carolina State. We started [Alec] Sinkfield, Kennedy [McKoy] got hot, and then we rode Leddie Brown at the end.”
Ali, redshirt nay
Wide receiver Ali Jennings needed only one game to prove his value as a college football player. With his three catches for 28 yards and a touchdown, Brown has committed to playing the true freshman the rest of the season. Jennings did not suit up for West Virginia’s first two games.
Meanwhile, fellow freshman Winston Wright is still being groomed to keep a redshirt this season. Wright started in the slot over the suspended Tevin Bush. With Bush back this week, the coaching staff would like to save Wright for three more games this season to maintain an extra year of eligibility.
Brown anticipates weather to be an issue Saturday. The forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms with winds between 10-20 mph.
“The team that handles those best” may be the one that ends up winning the game, Brown said.
Brown is optimistic wide receiver Sean Ryan will be able to participate at Kansas after leaving the N.C. State game with an injury early in the second half.
The optimism is more guarded when it comes to right guard Josh Sills. On his Thursday night radio show, Brown said “we’ll know in the next day or two” whether Sills will play against the Jayhawks.
West Virginia will wear old gold helmets, white jerseys and old gold pants at Kansas.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) September 19, 2019