17,000 masked WVU fans get to take part in football Saturday

Milan Puskar Stadium

MORGANTOWN — In the two previous West Virginia University home games, defensive tackle Dante Stills admits he could hear his mother yelling from the stands.

He said he wasn’t sure what she was yelling but it was her voice, just like when she would be calling him home for dinner when he was a kid.

It’s that way when no one but friends and family are allowed in, as it was the past couple of games due to COVID-19 restrictions.

This week, for Saturday’s noon game against Kansas, WVU is allowing a limited number of fans in, roughly 17,000 or so will have tickets and are expected to be masked and socially distanced ... but at least it will be a football atmosphere.

“We’re excited about welcoming back our fans,” said Coach Neal Brown. “We’ve missed them. We’ve missed our season ticket holders. We’ve missed our students and we’ve missed our alumni, so it will be fun to have them back with us. We have focused on bringing a lot of energy with us and we hope the fans bring the same energy with them to the stadium.”

Certainly, Darius and Dante Stills’ mom, Janeen Floyd, will still be doing her cheering. She’ll just have to be a little louder to be heard.

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Still some questions about the offensive line for this week for WVU.

Starting left guard James Gmiter missed the last game with an injury and Neal Brown stopped short of declaring hm ready to play against Kansas.

“We’re trying to get it cleared up on James, exactly where it’s at,” Brown said. “I’ll probably know more about it tomorrow, probably talk about it on the radio show. I’m not trying to avoid it. I just don’t know.”

If Gmiter can’t go, Fairmont Senior High product Zach Frazier would again fill in at the guard spot, not that that’s a bad thing.

Michael Brown, the right guard and a blossoming star himself, put it this way about Frazier, a true freshman whose position is center:

“He looks like a grown man. He’s a dude, a word they use around here. I give him props. Sometimes I walk into the weight room and he’s lifting and I’m like ‘What you trying to size me up for? Watch out, little guy.’ But he’s definitely a big guy. He brings everything to the table.

“He still needs to work on his knowledge, but the physical capability to do his job ... man, the kid’s a monster. Once he gets his schematics down he’s going to be great, really great.”

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Another injury situation centers on VanDarius Cowan, a talented but injury jinxed Alabama transfer capable of game changing plays. He missed the Baylor the game and Brown was asked about his availability.

“VanDarius has not practiced yet. He’s going to try in a limited capability today and see how it goes,” Brown said, not sounding overly optimistic.

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With Kansas coach Les Miles fighting COVID but expecting to coach here this week, Greg Hunter of the GolfBlueNews decided to ask Brown if he had a plan of succession, so to speak, if there came a time he couldn’t coach a game.

His answer sounded like a Donald Trump press secretary being asked about the plan to succeed Trump should it happen to him.

“Do they tell who the designated survivor is? Huh? They don’t tell that. We got a plan. It’s in a vault,” Brown said, wearing a smile to let you know he was only joking.

About the vault, that is.

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WVU is still waiting on some delayed results from Sunday’s COVIDtesting but has not had any positive returns so far.

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