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During any football game, there are going to be injuries. So it was a shock to no one when West Virginia saw players such as Robert Sands, Cole Bowers and Brandon Hogan removed from the playing field during Saturday's game. The injury list also included starting tight end Tyler Urban, who took a low hit that sidelined him for the remainder of the game.

Urban's status for Friday's game at Marshall remains in doubt, so West Virginia will have to prepare as if it won't have the services of the Pennsylvania native. Enter senior Will Johnson, who may have to assume more of the tight end duties usually split between the two.

In the past, Johnson and Urban have split the duties at tight end because they both bring different dynamics to the position. Urban is a bigger target in the passing game and a more capable blocker, while Johnson provides more speed and the ability to get downfield in the passing game more quickly. He showed that trait against Coastal Carolina, catching a 22-yard pass in the third quarter.

"I know there's a pretty good chance that [Urban] won't be in the game playing this week," said Johnson. "As far as how it will affect me, I will go into that starting role if he isn't able to go. We will just do a lot of adjusting like bringing in more offensive linemen to fill his role."

If Urban is unable to play, Johnson will step into the starting role. That will leave the backup and second tight end role to Chris Snook, a rugged redshirt freshman with a good deal of potential. While Johnson and Urban have been working together for years, he doesn't think that the team will miss a beat if Snook is called upon.

"I think we all three have the same kind of chemistry," said Johnson. "[Snook] is not the guy to take a lot of reps during the game but during practice he knows his role. He knows what he has to do. I don't think it will be a big deal to him. He had a strong spring and a strong camp, and he got a lot of reps in. I think that helped him to prepare."

While losing Urban to injury was no doubt a low point during the team's season opener, it was balanced by the role the tight ends played in the contest. Johnson was pleased with his grab, along with two short receptions that Urban recorded. The long route to a tight end was a new look for the offense, at least in game conditions.

"It's always been in," said Johnson. "It's just a matter of calling it. I hope to see more of it this week. I think [the catch] was a good first impression for the coaches. I think it will give them more confidence to use us more. Urban also had a couple catches so I think we're gaining their confidence to call our numbers more."

Johnson seems pleased with where his team is just one game into the season and is optimistic about their growth as the season progresses. MO< "I think [as a team] we are right where we want to be," said Johnson. "There is always one or two things where something goes wrong where a guy missing a block or an assignment and that can have an effect on the whole outlook of the play. If we just keep brushing up mentally, we will get there."


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