The WVU football team needs as much depth as possible and right now that isn’t the case for the defense.
On top of defensive linemen transferring, the Mountaineers received word that they will be without linebacker Quandarius Qualls for a while. He suffered an ACL tear in spring practice and may not be ready for the first game against Tennessee in Charlotte.
Qualls would have been a starter this season after seeing some enhanced playing time last year. The senior from Alabama spent two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College before transferring to West Virginia. This is his final year of eligibility.
Last year, he made 10 tackles but would have seen the field much more this year. He still will be playing games this season but after proper rest and rehabilitation, it doesn’t make sense to rush him into things right away.
What is concerning is that he will be off a normal routine to prepare for the year. Instead of running basic drills and practicing with the rest of the team, he will focus on the individual work to get back into playing shape. He may lose a step, but that’s the price that is paid when an ACL tear occurs.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pound linebacker will be backed up by David Long, Dylan Tonkery and Brendan Ferns. What is a big issue is the loss of Al-Rasheed Benton, who may get drafted. Replacing him would have been tough anyway, but Qualls would have filled his role. Unfortunately, Benton and Qualls will now need replaced.
Other linebackers who can step up into this role include Adam Hensley, Shea Campbell and Logan Thimons. Without any experience, it will be hard to shove these guys into the lineup against a powerhouse like Tennessee. The only way they can get better is through experience, though.
This is a big year for head coach Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers. If the defense isn’t as solid as the offense appears to be, it could be a long disappointing campaign.