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Gameday WVU vs. Kansas: November 27

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The final regular season game is upon Mountaineer fans. WVU enters today 5-6 and gunning for bowl eligibility, while Kansas sits at 2-9 and dead last in the Big 12. It should go without saying that this is a must-win for head coach Neal Brown’s West Virginia team. WVU is leading the series with Kansas 9-1, and the 11th meeting of the two is set to take place at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium tonight at 7 p.m. EST.

Today, these two teams will clash while missing some crucial pieces of both their offenses and defenses.

West Virginia has been missing tight end Mike O’Laughlin, linebacker Exree Loe, and cornerback Nicktroy Fortune, all of whom are out for the season. Others, like nose tackle Akheem Mesidor, QB2 Garrett Greene, wide receiver Sean Ryan, and defensive end Dante Stills are day-to-day, but all saw the field against Texas. Wide receiver Isaiah Esdale was slated to be out with injury for the Texas game, but instead made an appearance that produced a pair of receptions and 13 yards. Whether he makes a cameo in today’s game remains to be seen.

Leipold’s team isn’t as battered as the Mountaineers, but will host the match-up today missing the team’s biggest playmaker. During the second quarter of two weeks ago’s 57-56 overtime win against the Texas Longhorns, KU starting running back Devin Neal got hurt. As of Monday, Leipold ruled Neal, a true freshman, as “questionable to doubtful”. Neal is the team’s leading rusher and has produced 707 yards and eight touchdowns for the team over the course of the season. Without his presence helping quarterback Jalon Daniels, the next man up is, presumably, redshirt freshman Amauri Pesek-Hickson, who will make his second start of the season today. If not Pesek-Hickson, Mountaineer fans will get a glimpse of redshirt freshman Malik Johnson, who has never played a college snap, but is still poised to get the nod.

Daniels is another depth issue for Leipold’s team. He’s in his third game with the Jayhawks this season after injury sidelined his predecessors, Miles Kendrick and Jason Bean, during the Kansas State loss in Week 10. Leipold was planning on redshirting Daniels, but with a demoralized quarterback room, Daniels was the obvious next choice. Since stepping up into the QB1 spot, Daniels is 43-for-60 for 457 yards, five touchdowns, and an interception. Leipold speaks highly of his decision making, and the stats lean toward him being a dual-threat target. Against TCU last week, Daniels put up 255 yards through the air on 22 completions, good for a pair of touchdowns. His feet also carried him 37 yards on six rushing attempts, including a QB keep 14-yard rush to kick off the KU scoring. He has untapped potential, and the WVU defense has been historically daunted by run-pass option quarterbacks.

Watch for Daniels to make a solid move up the hash marks if he’s left unguarded in the pocket. Daniels, coupled with starting wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II, who has registered 608 receiving yards and a trio of touchdowns on 52 receptions, quietly ranks No. 118 in the country in receiving yards. To compare, WVU’s Winston Wright’s 643 yards on 57 receptions ranks No. 102 and Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s 560 yards on 40 receptions ranks No. 138.

Today at 7 p.m., Daniels and WVU quarterback Jarret Doege will meet in Lawrence, Ks. to play their final regular season game. For Doege, this game could officially announce the finality of his college career.

Stick with WVSportsNow.com for updates leading up to kick-off on FS1!

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