Zach Frazier and CJ Donaldson, key players for the West Virginia Mountaineers, will be sidelined for the team’s upcoming bowl game, according to head coach Neal Brown. Frazier, the starting center, suffered an injury during the regular-season finale against Baylor and underwent surgery shortly after. Donaldson, the team’s leading rusher, has also undergone a procedure that will keep him out of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl game against North Carolina on December 27th.
Coach Brown made the decision to prioritize Donaldson’s long-term health and opted for him to have an offseason to recover instead of rushing him back for the bowl game. Donaldson had an impressive season, leading the Mountaineers with 798 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Freshman Jahiem White, who finished the season with 792 yards, will step up as the starting running back for the bowl game.
With running back Justin Johnson Jr. entering the transfer portal, West Virginia will rely on White, Jaylen Anderson, and true freshman DJ Oliver as their three scholarship running backs for the game.
In Frazier’s absence, right guard Brandon Yates will shift to center, and Ja’Quay Hubbard will start in Yates’ spot at right guard. This lineup adjustment provides an opportunity for Yates to showcase his skills after getting ample practice reps during bowl preparations.
The only other injury concern for the Mountaineers is wide receiver Preston Fox, who is considered questionable for the game. Brown mentioned that it is too early to determine Fox’s availability, but the team will have a better idea closer to the game. Fox had a productive season, catching 26 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns, and he also served as the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner.
If Fox is unable to play, cornerback Beanie Bishop and freshman receiver Rodney Gallagher will handle punt returns, while Gallagher and Oliver will take on kickoff return duties.
Despite the injuries, Coach Brown does not anticipate any healthy players opting out of the game. The Mountaineers are focused on finishing the season strong and are eager to compete against North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
Overall, West Virginia will face challenges in the bowl game without Frazier and Donaldson, but they have confidence in their depth and the ability of their replacements to step up and contribute to the team’s success.
Original Story at www.dominionpost.com – 2023-12-18 00:51:08