- The Mountaineers' already green defense will open against Virginia Tech without its best defender from a season ago.
West Virginia linebacker David Long, one of the top defensive players in the Big 12, is expected to miss at least the first month of the 2017 season due to a meniscus injury, sources have told Sports Illustrated.
The speedy 5' 11", 230-pound sophomore hurt his meniscus in off-season conditioning work. He started 10 games for the Mountaineers in 2016. Long made 65 tackles and 4.5 TFLs as he emerged late in the season as a standout who wowed the staff with his quickness and toughness. He capped off the '16 season with a career-high 11 tackles against Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Mountaineers had only three returning starters on defense, including Long. They do return the guy they figured would’ve been their best defender last season, Dravon Askew-Henry, who missed all of 2016 after he suffered a season-ending knee injury during preseason camp.
West Virginia opens the season against Virginia Tech on Sept. 3 before playing East Carolina, Delaware State and Kansas in Lawrence before having a bye week to end September.