MORGANTOWN — As expected, defensive end Taijh Alston is out for the season after undergoing surgery on Tuesday morning to repair a torn patella tendon in his right knee.
This is the second time in three years the redshirt sophomore from Carthage, North Carolina, by way of Copiah-Lincoln Community College has had his season ended due to knee surgery.
“He will be out for the year. Unfortunate for him. I thought he was playing well,” West Virginia Coach Neal Brown said at his weekly press briefing.
At the time of the injury, there was some talk of the low block on him as he chased Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant perhaps being illegal, but Brown brushed that aside.
“The block on him was fine. It wasn’t something I deem a dirty play by any means. It’s just one of those things that happens,” Brown said.
With Alston out of the mix, Jeffery Pooler and Reuben Jones will have to take up the slack.
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There was some good news on the injury front as hard-running Leddie Brown is healed from a leg injury that kept him out of the season’s first two games.
This is bigger news than it sounds because WVU’s running game has been non-existent over the first two games with just 64 rushing yards, which ranks last in the country with 1.14 yards per carry.
“He’s a tough guy. I think we lack some toughness,” Brown said. “He’s rusty. He hasn’t done much football in about four weeks. He’s been slowly getting back to it. Today was the first real day of live football.”
Anything he can contribute would be an improvement.
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Running back Alec Sinkfield got the running game going late in the game and Brown said fans should be looking for him more in the future.
“Honestly we should have gotten Sinkfield into the mix earlier,” Brown said. * * *
Another player who helped himself at Missouri was wide receiver Sam James, who had five catches for 35 yards.
“Sam James played really, really well for the first half. He blocked well. He was our best player for the first half,” Brown said. ‘He was explosive. He did a good job of getting the DBs hands off him, which is something we emphasize.
“I think he will continue to grow.”
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One player who didn’t help himself in a brief appearance at Missouri was back up quarterback Jack Allison, who threw one pass and had it intercepted for a touchdown.
“I wanted to get him into the game,” Brown said. “He threw an out cut into Cover 2. I’m not quitting on him, but you can’t do that. That’s one of those deals where you are doing something you are not coached to do. I love the kid. He’s still getting reps, but we’re not going to reward people for those kind of plays. He’s still right there in the mix.”
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Take your pick on what was the worst aspect of the defense at Missouri.
“We had five missed sacks, five times we had Kelly Bryant behind the line of scrimmage and failed to take him down,” Brown said.
Brown said that three of those came on third down.
“Bryant shoved us around like rag dolls,” said Vic Koenning, defensive coordinator.
Or, was it the 22 missed tackles on the day?
“Most of those happened on those five consecutive scoring drives in the first and second quarters,” Brown said.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel