MORGANTOWN - After five games, it would appear that West Virginia has three of the best linebackers in the Big East - experienced, smart, talented and never at a loss for what to do.
There's only one problem. All three are Najee Goode.
"Najee is playing well,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "If we could clone three of him, we would.''
That, of course, would solve a lot of problems. The fact of the matter is, Goode is probably the best guy to fill all three roles - Mike (middle), Sam (strong side) and Will (weak side). Already this season, he has started four games at Mike and one, last Saturday against Bowling Green, at Sam. He also knows Will well enough to step in at any time.
But Goode can't be cloned, so heading into Saturday's Big East opener against Connecticut, the Mountaineers remain a week-to-week mystery of sorts at linebacker.
For the first three games of the season, Goode started in the middle with Doug Rigg at Sam and Casey Vance at Will. Junior college transfer Josh Francis replaced Vance against LSU, a game in which Rigg broke a bone in his wrist and was replaced by Tyler Anderson.
But then last week against Bowling Green, everything changed. Goode moved over into Rigg's spot at Sam, redshirt freshman Jewone Snow replaced Goode in the middle and Vance was back as the starter at Will. But even that lasted only two series before Francis again replaced Vance and played most of the rest of the afternoon.
So where to go from here? Well, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Jeff Casteel is just playing it by feel.
"I still think we have a long way to go there,'' Casteel said. "We're still trying to get better. But I thought Jewone played OK for his first start. He's handled it well. He's really a mature kid and he's only going to get better the more he plays.''
With Rigg sidelined indefinitely, and judging by who played most against Bowling Green, the probable lineup against Connecticut is Snow again in the middle with Goode at Sam and Francis or Vance at Will.
The good news is that the more the Mountaineers juggle the linebackers, the more experience everyone gets. And that can't do anything but help in the long run.
That's especially true for Snow, who had very little opportunity to play anything but special teams until last week.