6:00: Morning News

West Virginia defensive end Taijh Alston out for season after surgery

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sophomore defensive end Taijh Alston’s season is done after only two games for West Virginia.

Coach Neal Brown announced that Alston underwent surgery for a torn patellar tendon on Monday.

Alston was injured on a block in the back against Missouri. His knee buckled when his weight shifted after he was blindsided by a Tigers offensive lineman while pursuing quarterback Kelly Bryant. No penalty was called on the play.

“It’s unfortunate for him,” Brown said. “The block on him was fine, I wouldn’t deem it a dirty play by any means. Just one of those things that happens.”

Alston was a breakthrough player for the Mountaineers in spring practice, and the coaching staff had high hopes that he would be one of the top contributors for the WVU defensive line.

He had one sack against James Madison in the season opener before being carted off the field in the second quarter at Missouri.

Until a third player makes a move, Alston’s absence brings West Virginia down to a two-man rotation at defensive end. Junior Jeffrey Pooler and graduate transfer Reuben Jones will share the bulk of the snaps. The injury also has a bit of a domino effect — the versatile Jones was able to play everywhere along the line if needed, but will now stick to one position.

“It doesn’t help,” said defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. “It puts more emphasis on the other two guys. And now we can’t juggle those guys at other positions. We’re scrambling to find backup guys at a lot of positions.”

Alston redshirted at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in 2017, so he is unable to get this season back unless the NCAA were to grant him a sixth year of eligibility. He has two years left to play.

Brown also announced that running back Leddie Brown will play this week. Brown missed West Virginia’s first two games with an ankle injury.

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