By Allan Taylor and Sean Manning
MORGANTOWN — Five questions as No. 14 West Virginia (1-0) hosts Youngstown State (0-1):
Why play this game?
Taylor: To quote Judge Smails, “The world needs ditch diggers too,” and there’s a symmetry to Power Five schools taking on their FCS little brothers. The small programs receive a lifeblood payday and a chance to sample big-boy atmosphere, while teams like West Virginia get a chance to fine-tune, tinker and develop. With college football now acclimated to the 12-game regular season, one weekend of mismatches doesn’t hurt.
Will Jack Allison throw his first TD?
Manning: The backup quarterback had his helmet strapped and a big grin on his face when Will Grier’s helmet popped off in the fourth quarter last week against Tennessee. But coach Dana Holgorsen swept the rug right out from under Allison when he took a timeout so Grier didn’t have to miss a snap.
If all goes according to plan Saturday, Grier will get his numbers and his reps and will be sipping water and holding a clipboard by the fourth quarter. Offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has raved about Allison’s camp, believing it’s all finally clicked for him. If – or more likely, when – Allison gets in the game, he should get the thumbs up to sling it around and will nab his first touchdown pass.
Will T.J. Simmons see more targets?
Taylor: His first one sure worked out, a 59-yard touchdown that stunned the Tennessee secondary and even Simmons’ own position coach, Tyron Carrier. “I put him in the game for (David) Sills and said, ‘Go get you one,’ and T.J. got him one,” Carrier said. “What he did after breaking that tackle was pretty special. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him run like that.” Simmons left spring as a starting receiver but had been slowed by a toe injury throughout preseason, when Marcus Simms re-emerged. After the game-changing play Simmons made vs. Tennessee, he’s deserving of more chances.
Will Loe or Campbell get more reps at Sam LB?
Manning: Youngstown State is old-school in the way it runs its offense – ground and pound. That style suits Shea Campbell, who played 36 snaps against the Vols when Charlie Benton left with a knee injury, as a hole plugger opposed to Loe’s athleticism. That doesn’t mean Loe won’t play, but Campbell should get the majority of playing time.
Who gets more snaps at running back?
Manning: The coaching staff made it clear that all four running backs – Martell Pettaway, Leddie Brown, Alec Sinkfield and Kennedy McKoy – will play, but this is an opportunity for Sinkfield and Brown to get extended work. It wouldn’t be shocking if both freshman combine for 20-plus carries.