In what had been a highly anticipated game, it was the fresh faces of the West Virginia football team that helped to lift the Mountaineers over the visiting James Madison Dukes in Saturday’s season opener.
The Mountaineers entered Milan Puskar Stadium with a new coaching staff, a new starting quarterback and more.
The matchup against James Madison marked the first game in the gold and blue for West Virginia head coach Neal Brown, as well as most of his coaching staff.
Austin Kendall, who transferred in from Oklahoma University in January, ended the afternoon going 27-for-42 passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns in his first career WVU start.
“I liked what he did,” offensive coordinator Matt Moore said. “He made some really big time throws (and) missed a couple throws. He’s got some rust, he hasn’t played in three years. I think, what we saw today, we can definitely build on.”
Wide receiver George Campbell, a redshirt senior who transferred in from Florida State, had his first career touchdown reception on his lone reception — a 28 yarder.
“Great play down there for the touchdown,” Moore said. “We knew he could do that, we just had to get him in the situation where they were going to man cover him.”
Alongside Campbell on the offense was Sean Ryan, a wide receiver who transferred in from Temple and had received immediate eligibility a week prior to the game. He ended the afternoon with two receptions for 31 yards.
“I think he’ll keep coming on,” Moore said. “He’s going to be a good player for us.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Reuben Jones, a redshirt senior from the University of Michigan, finished with two tackles — one of which was a sack that pushed the Dukes offense back five yards.
“Reuben plays with a lot of energy,” linebacker Josh Chandler said. “He’s provided great leadership on and off the field, coming from Michigan — a great program with a lot of wins. Being able to provide that veteran experience is everything, he feeds into everybody.”
Yet, as the season is still in its infancy, there is plenty to be seen from not only the new members of the team, but of the team as a whole.
“It’s not always pretty,” Brown said about the early season jitters. “Winning’s hard, I knew it would be. We’ll take it and we’re glad to be 1-0.”