MORGANTOWN - West Virginia's football team didn't even get a chance to resume practice after a 12-day break before getting some rather disappointing injury news.
Starting cornerback Pat Miller had surgery on a broken bone in his foot and will miss the rest of WVU's spring drills, which resumed Tuesday. But in the grand scheme, it could have been worse.
Miller will be sidelined for two months, but should be fully recovered well before the beginning of fall camp and the 2012 season.
"He's obviously out for the spring, but he'll be full speed by July 1st,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said. "So we'll get a good month of work out of him and be ready for the season.''
Miller was injured during the final practice before the team was dismissed for spring break and x-rays the following day indicated the need for surgery. Miller delayed it until after spring break and had surgery on his foot Tuesday morning.
In a way, the injury to Miller creates a bit of an extra opportunity for the team's largely untested corps of cornerbacks. Miller, who will be a senior in the fall, and redshirt junior Brodrick Jenkins are the only players with real experience at the position, and now others will have to get the practice reps that had been taken by Miller.
Holgorsen admitted that it should open some opportunities for others.
"It does, but we're not very deep at corner,'' Holgorsen said.
Besides Jenkins and Miller, there are only two other scholarship cornerbacks on the depth chart now - Avery Williams and Terrell Chestnut. Behind those two are Lawrence Smith and Cecil Level.
Holgorsen admitted that all of those backups need practice reps, but at the same time "I'd rather Pat was getting them.''
Of those in backup roles at cornerback, perhaps the most intriguing is Chestnut, who missed all of last season as a true freshman after undergoing shoulder surgery. He was among the highest-rated players in last year's recruiting class.
"He's not where we want him to be by any stretch of the imagination,'' Holgorsen said. "He got beat on a couple of post routes [Tuesday] and then I saw him puffing on an inhaler on the sidelines. So he's a guy who's still trying to figure out how to play in pads after not having pads on for a year.
"He's not where we want him to be and he's a guy who needs to take advantage of getting as many reps as he can.'']
The departure of Matt Lindamood has forced the coaching staff to look elsewhere for help at fullback. So they went to the defense and drafted 6-foot-1, 241-pound fifth-year senior linebacker Donovan Miles and made him a fullback.
"We needed a body with Matt gone,'' Holgorsen said. "And for Donovan it probably means more of a chance for playing time.''
Holgorsen continues to praise his team's receivers, particularly the smallest ones. Tavon Austin, he said, is playing faster without the ball than he ever has, while freshman Jordan Thompson "made a lot of plays out there [Tuesday].''
Holgorsen also confirmed Tuesday that Derrick Bryant had been dismissed for what he called a violation of team rules. Bryant was a transfer defensive end from UCLA who arrived last August and sat out the season.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or email@example.com