College Football

Fresh faces help West Virginia, Kansas start strong

(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

By JOHN RABY

AP Sports Writer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Something wasn't right when redshirt freshman Briason Mays was going through pregame warmups as the third center used by West Virginia this season.

Mays was nervous and his snaps were off target Saturday. That made offensive line coach Matt Moore nervous, too, so Moore decided a pep talk was in order.

"We talk about a strike zone, just like a pitcher. You need to throw a strike every time," Moore said. "Pregame, he was out there spraying them everywhere. I just went up to him and said, you're going to be fine. Just relax."

Mays played every snap in the 44-27 win over North Carolina State and got through his first career start unscathed.

"After the first play, everything calmed down," Mays said. "I was definitely amped up there in pregame. But he calmed me down. That really helped me a lot."

Mays is one of the youngsters that new West Virginia coach Neal Brown has turned to. Brown promised many players would see their first action out of necessity and that's given the Mountaineers (2-1) a lift entering their Big 12 opener Saturday at Kansas (2-1).

West Virginia returned just three starters on offense and four on defense from a year ago. So far this season, 14 freshmen have played.

"As a coach you'd probably prefer them to be a little older, but we got to play the best guys and our young people have shown that they're ready to play," Brown said. "The more they play, the better they're going to get."

Against North Carolina State, the Mountaineers had three first-time starters on each side of the ball, necessitated in part by injuries.

The offensive line has been a work in progress with eight different starters so far, including Mays, redshirt freshman James Gmitter at left guard and sophomore John Hughes at right guard against the Wolfpack.

At receiver, redshirt freshman Sam James caught nine passes for 155 yards and a score after catching two all of last season. Freshmen Winston Wright had four catches and Ali Jennings had three, including a touchdown, in their first career game.

The parade included three new starters against the Wolfpack on the defensive line: Michigan graduate transfer Reuben Jones, 17-year-old freshman nose tackle Jordan Jefferson and sophomore Dante Stills, who had two sacks.

Sophomore linebacker Josh Chandler, used primarily on special teams in 2018, has a team-high 24 tackles and a pass breakup. Freshmen defensive backs Kerry Martin, Tykee Smith and Kwantel Raines also have been solid.

The older players on the roster are welcoming the help.

"It's a huge deal," said senior defensive lineman Reese Donahue, who has 27 career starts. "Really when you have the opportunity to play young players it sets up success in the future."

The solid play is also evident at Kansas, which lost half of its starters from a year ago and broke a 48-game road losing streak to Power Five opponents with a 48-24 victory at Boston College .

Freshman linebacker Gavin Potter has one of Kansas' two interceptions and had five tackles against Boston College. Freshman Kenny Logan made three tackles on kickoffs against the Eagles. Junior linebacker Dru Prox has led the Jayhawks in tackles in his first three career starts.

Other freshmen making contributions for the Jayhawks include linebacker Steven Parker, defensive linemen DaJon Terry and Marcus Harris, tight end Mason Fairchild, running back Velton Gardner, kicker Jacob Borcila and kick returner Jamahl Horne.

Coming off the win, Miles expects similar efforts in the conference season.

"I'm going to ask this team ... is this enough? Should we just forget it the rest of the year? And see what they say," Miles said. "My guess is they can't wait to practice and prepare. And West Virginia is a good football team and they will be plenty motivated."

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Updated September 18, 2019

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Teams Score Time
NCAA FB
NC State   Sat 12:00pm
Boston College  
Duke   Sat 3:30pm
Virginia  
North Carolina   Sat 3:30pm
Virginia Tech  
NHL
Carolina   10:00pm
Anaheim  
Teams Score Time
Pittsburgh   7:00pm
Syracuse  
Ohio State   8:30pm
Northwestern  
Auburn   Sat 12:00pm
Arkansas  
Clemson   Sat 12:00pm
Louisville  
Florida   Sat 12:00pm
South Carolina  
Georgia Tech   Sat 12:00pm
Miami  
NC State   Sat 12:00pm
Boston College  
Purdue   Sat 12:00pm
Iowa  
West Virginia   Sat 12:00pm
Oklahoma  
Wisconsin   Sat 12:00pm
Illinois  
Duke   Sat 3:30pm
Virginia  
LSU   Sat 3:30pm
Mississippi State  
Minnesota   Sat 3:30pm
Rutgers  
North Carolina   Sat 3:30pm
Virginia Tech  
Oregon   Sat 3:30pm
Washington  
Temple   Sat 3:30pm
SMU  
Tulsa   Sat 3:30pm
Cincinnati  
UL Monroe   Sat 3:30pm
Appalachian State  
Baylor   Sat 4:00pm
Oklahoma State  
Missouri   Sat 4:00pm
Vanderbilt  
Arizona State   Sat 6:00pm
Utah  
Kentucky   Sat 6:00pm
Georgia  
Kansas   Sat 7:00pm
Texas  
Florida State   Sat 7:30pm
Wake Forest  
Michigan   Sat 7:30pm
Penn State  
Tennessee   Sat 9:00pm
Alabama  
Boise State   Sat 10:15pm
BYU  
Teams Score Time
American League
Houston 8 F
New York 3
Houston   7:08pm
New York  
Teams Score Time
Miami 107 F
Orlando 98
Atlanta 93 F
Chicago 111
Minnesota 96 F
Milwaukee 118
Portland 104 F
Denver 110
Dallas 102 F
Los Angeles 87
Washington   7:00pm
Philadelphia  
Toronto   7:30pm
Brooklyn  
Houston   8:00pm
Miami  
New Orleans   8:00pm
New York  
Memphis   8:30pm
San Antonio  
Los Angeles   10:30pm
Golden State  
Teams Score Time
Kansas City 30 F
Denver 6
Arizona   Sun 1:00pm
New York  
Houston   Sun 1:00pm
Indianapolis  
Jacksonville   Sun 1:00pm
Cincinnati  
Los Angeles   Sun 1:00pm
Atlanta  
Miami   Sun 1:00pm
Buffalo  
Minnesota   Sun 1:00pm
Detroit  
Oakland   Sun 1:00pm
Green Bay  
San Francisco   Sun 1:00pm
Washington  
Los Angeles   Sun 4:05pm
Tennessee  
Baltimore   Sun 4:25pm
Seattle  
New Orleans   Sun 4:25pm
Chicago  
Philadelphia   Sun 8:20pm
Dallas  
New England   Mon 8:15pm
New York  
Teams Score Time
Minnesota 0 F
Montreal 4
New York 2 F
New Jersey 5
Tampa Bay 4 F/SO
Boston 3
New York 3 F
Winnipeg 1
Vancouver 4 F/SO
St. Louis 3
Detroit 1 F
Calgary 5
Nashville 2 F
Arizona 5
Ottawa 2 F/SO
Vegas 3
Buffalo 3 F
Los Angeles 0
Colorado   7:00pm
Florida  
Dallas   7:00pm
Pittsburgh  
New York   7:00pm
Washington  
Columbus   8:30pm
Chicago  
Detroit   9:00pm
Edmonton  
Carolina   10:00pm
Anaheim  
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT TALLADEGA
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 12 Ryan Blaney 9
2 6 Ryan Newman 13
3 11 Denny Hamlin 40
4 10 Aric Almirola 5
5 34 Michael McDowell 22
6 3 Austin Dillon 20
7 32 Corey Lajoie 33
8 9 Chase Elliott 1
9 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 7
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT DOVER
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 00 Cole Custer 3
2 7 Justin Allgaier 8
3 22 Austin Cindric 2
4 11 Justin Haley 11
5 98 Chase Briscoe 1
6 1 Michael Annett 16
7 9 Noah Gragson 7
8 23 John Hunter Nemechek 17
9 8 Zane Smith 10
NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT TALLADEGA
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Spencer Boyd 25
2 4 Todd Gilliland 6
3 51 Riley Herbst 7
4 24 Brett Moffitt 8
5 52 Stewart Friesen 10
6 16 Austin Hill 13
7 17 Tyler Ankrum 2
8 88 Matt Crafton 1
9 2 Sheldon Creed 5