Tough Situation

Nate Sowers

West Virginia backup quarterback Nate Sowers handled a tough situation beautifully on Saturday, which solidifies the notion that the Mountaineers have yet another solid individual upon which to build their team.

Sowers, who was set to see a good deal of playing time not only at quarterback, but also at slot receiver, saw that plan hindered late in the week with the reoccurrence of a hip strain. That injury kept him from seeing any time at wideout, but it wasn't enough to keep him off the field at quarterback in West Virginia's 52-3 shellacking of Eastern Washington.

Following Jarrett Brown's excellent performance, Sowers entered the game in the third quarter with an assortment of second-, third-, and fourth teamers, and saw his first series as a West Virginia quarterback end in a three-and-out, despite a seven-yard scramble. Some players might have expressed dissatisfaction at such a state of affairs, but Sowers isn't built that way. He didn't let it bother his play on the field, either, as he able demonstrated the next time the WVU offense took the ball.

Starting on EWU's 43, Sowers led a six-play drive that he capped with a quick burst up the middle on third down and eight to score West Virginia's penultimate touchdown. However, on the play, Sowers added another injury to his day just as it was turning in his favor. This time, it was a hamstring that failed to cooperate, ending the Martinsburg, W. Va. native's day.

"I did it on the touchdown run up the middle, but it didn't hut a lot, I just kind of tweaked it," said Sowers, who nonetheless hobbled into the interview room following the game like an arthritis-addled 80-year old. "I will go and get treatment and see how bad it is and see what the full evaluation is."

That Sowers didn't moan and groan about the twist of fate is revealing. As the third team quarterback, chances to play are often few and far between, especially given the conservative nature of head coach Rich Rodriguez and his substitution patterns. Even given the chance to vent, the redshirt freshman responded with the poise of a veteran.

"Yeah it's a little frustrating, but that's life," Sowers said matter-of-factly. "You have to play the cards you are dealt. I will just have to recover from this injury."

This won't be the first time Sowers will have to rehab the balky tendon. He strained the same one earlier this summer, which forced him to miss some conditioning time.

"I kind of tweaked the same one during the summer and I didn't do much for two weeks," Sowers recalled. "I will just have to have it evaluated and see how it is."

The hope, of course, is that the recurrent problem doesn't become a season-long battle, but there is no way to predict how long the injury might keep him out of service. Sowers offered no projections, noting that "hamstrings are tender things, so I really don't know [how long I might be out]."

The hip and hamstring combination will also likely slow Sowers' progression at slot receiver, where he felt "fairly comfortable" despite a short amount of work.

"I've only been doing it for 2-3 weeks, and I just go in here and there, and of course I'm trying to concentrate on quarterback too," he said of the process of learning the slot spot. "It's definitely a different position, and I definitely have to learn a lot more about precision routes and that kind of stuff."

Sowers is still set on competing at the quarterback spot, and there aren't any plans to move him to another position. However, like Charles Hales a couple of years ago, he's too good of an athlete to keep off the field, and thus the coaches want to take advantage of his athletic ability. And as a competitor of the first degree, Sowers certainly will take any chance he has to get on the field.

Perhaps the most telling comment that shows how Sowers feels about representing his state University came in response to a question about his emotions when he trotted out on the field at the end of the third quarter.

"It was an amazing feeling," Sowers said with a smile. "A lot of kids would like to be out there in our positions. I just feel lucky to be out there and be part of the program."

At the same time, West Virginia and its fans feel the same way about having Sowers on their team.

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