WVU ready heading into opener

As West Virginia heads into its first game week of the season, Dana Holgorsen is pretty pleased with the way his team is looking.

But when the Mountaineers take the field against No. 2 Alabama in Atlanta this weekend, it will be without one of its starters on defense. Senior cornerback Ishmael Banks ran into academic eligibility issues and after missing the final portion of preseason camp, an NCAA ruling came down suspending Banks for the first three games of the season. Banks, who started all 12 games last season and intercepted two passes, will be eligible to return against Oklahoma in WVU's Big 12 Conference opener.

"Icky has been reinstated to the team," Holgorsen said in Monday's Big 12 teleconference. "He was dealing with some academic issues that had to be sent to the NCAAs and the NCAA said he had to be suspended for the nonconference schedule. But he will be back."

While losing a starting corner for three games would have killed WVU a few years ago, the depth on this year's squad appears to be good enough that Holgorsen doesn't believe there will be too much of a drop-off in the mean time while they wait for Banks to get back on the field.

"Terrell Chestnut has been playing well. He’s going to take some snaps. Travis Bell has been playing well. He’s going to take some snaps," Holgorsen said. "And Jaylon Myers is full go. He’s still learning because he was late to camp, but he’s ready to go. Ricky Rumph is back and ready to go."

That second cornerback spot isn't the only one still up for grabs in the week leading up to the showdown against the Crimson Tide. The battle between Dravon Henry and Jeremy Tyler is still going strong at free safety, but Holgorsen made sure to reiterate that it really doesn't matter who starts that first game - or any game for that matter.

"I don’t know which one is going to get the nod," he said. "Just because someone gets the nod to start, it’s probably more important how they play during the course of the game because the better they play, the more snaps they’ll get."

It helped the Mountaineers that they were able to use last week as a mock game week, going through the same things they will be doing this week, including a mock game on Saturday, so they know what to expect as they prepare this week for Saturday's game.

"I was pleased with how last week went," Holgorsen said. "Hopefully we got comfortable with how a game week works and our distractions are a little less this week than they were last year."

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