MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Injuries have plagued the West Virginia football team all season long.
While the defense has faced the brunt of the injury bug and the offense has been affected too, and before the team’s game at Baylor two weeks ago the special teams unit was hit as well.
Junior placekicker Evan Staley has been solid for the Mountaineers this season, making every point after and seven of 12 field goals. In the week leading up to the Baylor game, however, Staley suffered an injury and freshman Casey Legg is the only other pure kicker on the roster.
Head coach Neal Brown has said that he trusts what he has seen out of Legg in practice so far. Legg’s practices are all Brown has to go on as, before Baylor, Legg had not attempted an in-game field goal in his entire life. Legg did not play soccer in high school, he was a soccer player.
“I was telling (EPSN sideline reporter) Molly McGrath about it before the (Baylor) game,” Brown said. “She asked me if he was going to kick, I said ‘yeah’. She said ‘well I didn’t see his high school stats’. I said ‘because he doesn’t have any. You can look at his soccer stats’.”
Brown said he found out about Legg through a member of his coaching staff talking to Legg’s father. His dad mentioned that Legg had started kicking balls and the coach invited him to try it for the team.
Legg attempted his first in-game field goal against Baylor when the team was down by three points in the fourth quarter. If he made the 43-yarder the Mountaineers would have been tied with the Bears 17-17 with less than four minutes left to play. Legg made the field goal, but a delay of game penalty wiped it off the board and forced a re-try from further back. Legg 48-yard attempt was blocked by Baylor and West Virginia went on to lose the game by three.
Brown said he wishes he could have seen where that kick would have gone had it not been blocked. He also said that, despite the block, he still trusts Legg’s kicking ability moving forward without Staley.
“The thing I like about Casey is, every time we have put him in a challenge situation he has risen to the occasion,” Brown explained. “That’s not always the case, especially with specialists. We try to put out specialists in as many, gut-wrenching, pressure-packed situations in practice. He had always risen to the occasion.”
Legg’s first-ever made field goal that counted came against Texas Tech with 3:09 left in the first quarter. The 30-yard make was a unique situation for the kicker, making his first-ever in-game field goal during a Divison-I football game.