Next Man Up: TJ Banks looks to seize the opportunity

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Redshirt junior tight end Mike O’Laughlin missed the first two games of the season with a leg injury. In those two games, West Virginia did not have much success in football and O’Laughlin’s absence played a major role there.

It took a while for O’Laughlin to regain his full strength, but it really started to show after the week off at TCU. Against the Frogs, he had four catches for 23 yards and helped open some big points from Leddie Brown. Just as O’Laughlin started to turn the corner, so did WVU’s offense. Unfortunately, head coach Neal Brown announced on Tuesday that a lower body injury would prevent O’Laughlin from playing for the remainder of the regular season.

The good news is that O’Laughlin’s replacement TJ Banks had arguably the best game of his career when he won against Iowa State. He did some big holds and did pivot blocks.

“It was the best he has played, really,” Neal Brown said of Banks’ performance last Saturday. “He’s had two good weeks straight from a training standpoint. I think TJ sees an opportunity. His approach is a lot more mature than when he had to play early when Mike was out with the other injury. has always played very hard. The effort was never really a problem, these are technical problems. Saturday was the first time he combined high effort, which he always does, with a very good concentration on technique. “

With O’Laughlin now out, it becomes a great opportunity for Banks to shine and cement his role in the Mountaineer offense going forward. Redshirt’s freshman Charles Finley will see a few snaps here and there, but it’s Banks’ opportunity to make some money.

Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker discussed what he liked about Banks during last week’s game against the Cyclones.

“He did a great job catching football and finishing runs vertically and protecting football in the right way. It was good to see him break a few tackles and play physically with the ball in his hands. Then in the game. running, he just did a great job keeping his feet on the ground with the hat placement, the ball came out and really protected his gap and stretched. “

While O’Laughlin isn’t back in uniform this season, Gerad Parker feels great and is ready to help the team in any way he can.

“We hate him for him because he made such progress in the offseason, then suffered an injury earlier in the year and played so well against TCU, then the unfortunate injury here at the end. I hate it. that for him, ”Parker said. “We’re here to support him and get him back to good health. He’s been positive and has been surrounded by these young guys, which makes him stand out in a different way. It was really good to see these young guys. playing well and being prepared to play well. As we go along, that’s what the call will be just kind of a next guy mentality. “

West Virginia and the state of Iowa are scheduled to premiere Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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