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Backup nose tackle Jaleel Fields lost for 2016 after offseason knee injury

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s projected backup nose tackle Jaleel Fields will miss 2016 after suffering an offseason knee injury, coach Dana Holgorsen announced Tuesday.

A redshirt sophomore who appeared in four games last season, Fields was the No. 2 option behind senior Darrien Howard after spring drills.

The injury leaves the Mountaineers thin in the middle, where redshirt freshman Alec Shriner could be in line for more action. True freshman offensive lineman Chase Behrndt has moved to defense as an experiment.

“We’re down a body at nose, so we’re seeing if Chase can do that,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a Kyle Rose of sorts—high school state wrestling guy with a mean streak to him. We’ll see if he can do it, but we don’t know if he can.”

Howard played 304 snaps as the top backup to Rose in 2015.

Durante trying slot: With West Virginia well stocked at outside receiver, speedster Jovon Durante is working some in the slot.

Durante showed dynamic flashes as a freshman—scoring five touchdowns among his 24 catches—before being ruled academically ineligible for the Cactus Bowl and spring semester.

He caught passes of 50-plus yards against Georgia Southern and Texas and made a season-long 43-yard kick return at Baylor.

Conventional prep: After devoting an inordinate amount of preseason preparation to Georgia Southern’s option attack last August, the Mountaineers are taking a more typical approach to this season’s Sept. 3 opener against Missouri.

“We were working on Georgia Southern throughout five weeks of camp, where here we won’t have to work on Missouri until about two weeks before the first game,” Holgorsen said. “So it gives us another week and a couple more periods to work (fundamentals).”

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