Report: 11 West Virginia Players Suspended for Opener vs. Eastern Kentucky

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2020

Head coach Neal Brown
Head coach Neal BrownChris Jackson/Associated Press

The West Virginia Mountaineers football team will reportedly be without 11 players because of suspension when they host the Eastern Kentucky Colonels in their season-opening game Saturday.

According to Mike Casazza of EerSports, the suspensions are not related to COVID-19 and are instead because of violations of team rules. All 11 suspensions are reportedly for one week, meaning the players will be eligible to play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Sept. 26.

Per Casazza, the 11 suspended players are starting left tackle Junior Uzebu, starting center Chase Behrndt, starting slot receiver T.J. Simmons, backup slot receiver Isaiah Esdale, backup slot receiver Zack Dobson, tight ends Mike O'Laughlin and T.J. Banks, backup offensive linemen Tairiq Stewart and Zach Davis, backup cornerback David Vincent-Okoli and backup long snapper J.P. Hadley.

Casazza noted that WVU head coach Neal Brown has been preparing to be without the 11 players for quite some time because of when the violation occurred.

After reaching a bowl game in five straight seasons and 16 of 17 seasons, the Mountaineers struggled to a 5-7 record last season and failed to qualify for a bowl game.

It was West Virginia's first season under Brown after eight with Dana Holgorsen at the helm. Holgorsen left to take the head coaching job at the University of Houston.

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Despite their struggles last season and the fact that they will be without 11 players, several of whom are starters, the Mountaineers are huge favorites against the Colonels.

According to DraftKings, West Virginia is a 43.5-point favorite, which is one of the biggest spreads on the board Saturday.

Eastern Kentucky is coming off a 59-0 loss to Marshall last week, and the final margin could be even larger against a power conference team in WVU.