MORGANTOWN — One of the most important plays of last week’s Backyard Brawl between WVU and Pitt happened on the Panthers’ second offensive possession, and it has nothing to do with the on-field result.
WVU cornerback Charles Woods, the only defensive back with significant game experience with the Mountaineers, went down with an injury and needed help off the field.
Woods did not return and was walking the sideline with a boot on his left foot. In his place was James Madison transfer Wesley McCormick, who was ejected for targeting on Pitt’s final scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
With the second-half ejection, McCormick cannot play in the first half of Saturday’s home- and conference-opener against Kansas at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Head coach Neal Brown said Tuesday he is uncertain what Woods’ status will be against the Jayhawks, so the Mountaineers could be in a vulnerable position, at least for the first half.
“It’s going to hurt, there’s no doubt about that,” Brown said.
True freshman Mumu Bin-Wahad was the next man up against Pitt. Following McCormick’s ejection, Bin-Wahad played out the rest of the drive, but it was the last offensive possession for the Panthers in the game.
Leading into this week’s game, a 6 p.m. kickoff on ESPN+, it will be an open competition who starts opposite Rashad Ajayi if Woods can’t go.
“We’ll just have to get some other guys ready,” Brown said. “That’s the thing with injuries or targeting, one person’s bad luck is an opportunity for others. We feel like we do have more athleticism in that room with guys who can play. (Malachi) Ruffin has played corner, (Andrew Wilson) Lamp is at a point where he’s ready to play, Jacolby Spells is a really highly-regarded freshman.”
Kansas scored 56 points in its opening win vs. Tennessee Tech with quarterback Jalon Daniels completing 15 of 18 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown.
Brown explains postgame referee chase
Following the loss to Pitt and his postgame handshake with Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi, Brown chased down the officials toward the tunnel, giving them an ear full along the way.
Brown explained why he was so upset after the game in the immediate aftermath, stemming from the overturned call on WVU’s final play of the game, an incompletion on 4th down at the goal line to receiver Reese Smith.
After Pitt took a knee, Brown called his final timeout, not to continue the game, but to speak to the head official.
“I was frustrated at the end of the game because I didn’t get a response from the head official when I called that timeout,” he said. “I called that timeout to get a response because I wanted to know what was said on replay and he’s the only one that knows.”