MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s rapidly depleting defense is in need of more “Get Well Soon” cards.
Coach Neal Brown confirmed that linebacker Josh Chandler will miss multiple games after injuring his knee against Oklahoma. Fortunately, Chandler avoided season-ending surgery.
“Josh Chandler will be out for about a month,” Brown said on Tuesday. “I’m not ready to say how many games. That will depend on how he does from a rehab standpoint.”
Chandler is WVU’s second-leading tackler with 49 stops. His impact went beyond defense, though. One of the factors in Oklahoma’s blocked punt for a touchdown was a mistake borne out of Chandler’s absence from the punt protection unit.
“The block, part of it’s my fault and part of it’s communication,” Brown said. “We didn’t do a very good job communicating because Josh wasn’t in there.”
Other injuries had already created a shuffle in West Virginia’s linebacking corps before the Oklahoma game. Chandler moved from Will linebacker to Mike linebacker after defensive coordinator Vic Koenning moved Dylan Tonkery to the bandit to back up Quandarius Qualls following VanDarius Cowan’s season-ending injury.
Qualls got hurt against the Sooners, too, and is questionable for the Baylor game. With the Mountaineers running out of bodies to plug these holes, true freshman Jared Bartlett will likely be active for the first time against the Bears to provide help at bandit.
“We’re running out of bodies,” Brown said. “At linebacker and bandit, we have to make some decisions over next 24-48 hours. Shea Campbell, Tonkery. Zach Sandwisch is probably someone who will have to get ready that hasn’t played a bunch this year. This will be a game where Jared Bartlett could be a factor.”
Not all of the injury news is negative.
Brown said that senior cornerback Keith Washington will be back in the lineup against Baylor after missing the past two games. Washington has been the steadiest player in West Virginia’s secondary this season. He leads the Big 12 with nine passes defended despite playing two fewer games than the rest of the league leaderboard.
Brown also updated the media on the progress of cornerback Dreshun Miller, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury. Brown said Miller will know whether he’s medically cleared for full contact early next week.
“He’s doing better. He’s starting to move more,” Brown said. “I’m optimistic we’ll see him at some point this year.”
Brown said wide receiver Sean Ryan is still out for the Baylor game, but will be reassessed the following week.