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August 25, 2014

West Virginia starting cornerback suspended

The West Virginia Mountaineers will be without starting cornerback Ishmael "Icky" Banks when they play No. 2-ranked Alabama on Saturday in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia's head coach, announced Monday that Banks has been suspended for the Mountaineers' three pre-conference games and will not be eligible to play until the Sept. 20 game against Oklahoma.

Banks started all 12 games last year.

"He was dealing with some academic issues that had to be sent to the NCAA," Holgorsen said on the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. "For the first three games he will be suspended ... and will be back for the remainder of our Big 12 schedule after that."

The coach mentioned Terrell Chestnut, Travis Bell, Jaylon Myers, Ricky Rumph and Daryl Worley as cornerbacks who will likely see action with Banks out.

"We've got bodies at corner, bodies that have played," Holgorsen said. "We've just got to see how they respond."

At running back, West Virginia will likely rotate Pitt transfer Rushel Shell, speedster Dreamius Smith and Wendell Smallwood.

"At running back, who we start I don't think really is going to matter," Holgorsen said. "We're going to play one, two, three of those guys at any point in time. Whoever gets the hot hand, whoever looks good out there, whoever is playing fast and making plays is probably the guy we're going to get the ball to a little bit more."

West Virginia treated last week as if it were game week to get the team better prepared for the season opener.

"We had a mock game on Saturday," the coach said, "which is somewhat tedious. I'd rather get out there and just put the ball down and scrimmage, but there's so many situations that you've got to put your guys into with substitutions, sideline stuff and all that.

"Hopefully we got comfortable with how a game week works. ... Had a good practice (Sunday) night, guys seemed fresh, guys seemed excited about playing. I think it worked out good last week and we're looking forward to the real thing this week."

West Virginia realizes it will be on a big stage playing Alabama on the season's opening Saturday.

"This game's obviously going to be high-profile," Holgorsen said. "We're playing one of the best teams in the country year-in and year-out. Coach (Nick) Saban's body of work speaks for itself, he's got a tremendous coaching staff, those guys don't lose too many games.

"With that being said, we're excited about the opportunity, our fan base is excited about the opportunity and we look forward to getting down to Atlanta and putting our best foot forward."

Reach Tommy Deas at [email protected] or at 205-722-0224.

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