On The Mend

Season openers for players on many Division I football teams are a time for tuning up and preparing for tougher games to come, but for an unlucky few they offer more hurdles that boosts.

That was just the case for West Virginia tight end Tyler Urban, who suffered a knee injury that kept him out for the next two games.

"It's been a learning experience, I guess," said Urban, who approached the injury philosophically. "I've never missed a game in my life. I got hurt at the end of the first game and I'm trying to get back on the field now. It's frustrating."

Following his second catch of the game against Coastal Carolina, Urban was tackled late in the third quarter. The takedown, which occurred from behind, resulted in Urban's knee being driven into the turf of Mountaineer Field.

"I stood up and it gave out," said Urban. "I didn't know what happened so I tried to stand up again, and then I just crawled off to the sidelines."

Urban found out after the game that he had strained the PCL in his knee. After some consideration, it was decided that he would not play in the team's second game of the season against his former position coach, Doc Holliday, at Marshall.

"It's definitely been tough," admitted Urban. "Especially our first [away] game when we went down to Marshall. I was still carrying the hope that I could play against them and then [my return] just kept being moved back and back. It was definitely depressing not being able to go out there."

It was especially difficult for Urban to be watching from the sidelines as his team trailed Marshall for the majority of the game. Even the rally and win didn't help lift his mood.

"When you're down [in a game], it's terrible because you can't do anything about it," said Urban.

The junior's absence was extended another week, as Urban did not play in the team's third game of the season against Maryland, and it nearly stretched to three games when head coach Bill Stewart decided to not risk playing Urban a great deal in what turned out to be an extremely physical game against LSU. He got just one snap against the Tigers, and that on West Virginia's final possession before halftime when the team took a knee to run out the clock.

Despite being in for just seconds during the game, Urban still took advantage of the opportunity to get a hit in on his opponent -- something he has missed in recent weeks. The contact is something he's looking forward to as he anticipates returning to duty against UNLV on Saturday.

"I'm definitely excited if I get a chance to play this week," said Urban. "I can't wait to just go out there and hit someone."

While Urban's physical reps and conditioning have been limited in fear of swelling of his knee, he has been able to work on mental reps and has been able to study the games he has missed and give pointers to fellow tight end Will Johnson.

"I have been able to focus on signals and what [Johnson] is doing so if he comes to the sidelines with any questions or if I saw something I would help him out," said Urban. "It's been a good experience. Frustrating, but a good experience."

Urban is expected to play in this week's game against UNLV and says that his health is currently at around 90 percent. However, West Virginia's best blocker from the tight end position is still going through intense treatment for the still-plaguing knee pain.

"It's a lot of work," said Urban. "I'm still going two or three times a day and it's been for weeks now so I have kind of built it around my schedule now. I had to discipline myself. I wasn't allowed to do too much more than come [to the Puskar Center], do treatment, and go home." It will no doubt be a benefit to the Mountaineers to have their starting tight end back in the rotation before they begin Big East play on October 14th against South Florida. UNLV will give Urban a game to ease into action – much as he hoped to do against Coastal Carolina – and prepare himself for the Big East portion of the schedule. For Urban, it's a second start to a season that started out with promise, but has been an exercise in frustration since.

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