Posted on: September 10, 2011 4:45 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 4:57 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
WEST VIRGINIA WON. After trailing 12-10 at halftime, West Virginia rolled off 45 unanswered points in the route of Norfolk State. Quarterback Geno Smith led the way for the offensive onslaught, throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowns. Even backup Paul Millard got a taste of the pass happy scheme, completing 5 of 6 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown in the final scoring drive of the game.
WHY WEST VIRGINIA WON: Norfolk State was penalized 19 times for 169 yards.
Yes, that's NINETEEN times for 169 yards - nearly double the total rushing yards for the Spartans. The Mountaineer defense held Norfolk State to 2-for-15 on third downs and the offense was only able to pickup 285 adds of total offense. The execution errors in the second half, along with allowing Smith to have his way with the secondary, put the game out of reach fast.
WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: It only took 13 total plays and under five minutes for the Mountaineers to reclaim the lead and begin piling on the punishment. Norfolk State picked up just 16 yards in that span, the Mountaineers collected 146 and 14 points.
WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: West Virginia was unable to get their running game going in the first half. Norfolk State comfortably left four men in the box and dared the Mountaineers to run the ball. Once the passing game got going in the second half Vernard Roberts was able to take advantage of increased opportunities, but the first half will give the Mountaineers plenty to work on before facing Maryland next weekend in College Park.
WHAT NORFOLK STATE LOST With a 12-10 halftime lead, Norfolk State had the attention of the nation as one of several possible upsets in the early slate of games. Allowing West Virginia's defense to roll off three straight unanswered touchdowns in ten minutes disinterested the masses and erased any memory of that close first half.
THAT WAS CRAZY. West Virginia's offensive production against the Spartans marked the highest point total since the Mountaineers beat Connecticut 66-21 in 2007. West Virginia totaled 517 yards rushing on the Huskies, led by Pat White, Noel Devine and Steve Slaton in that game. That was Rich Rodriguez's last year at West Virginia, and the team eventually defeated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The Mountaineers have a long way to go before being able to be compared to that 2007 team, but the second half on Saturday was a start.
Posted on: November 26, 2010 8:35 pm
Edited on: November 26, 2010 8:39 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
So far in 2010, the Big East conference has lacked many defining or memorable moments in conference play. Those moments that every team in the conference will remember that game that changed the landscape across the entire league. It feels fitting then, that one of those performances came in the 103rd Backyard Brawl between Pittsburgh and West Virginia. The Panthers entered the game sitting in the driver's seat on the way to a BCS bowl game. A win over their rivals on Senior Day in Pittsburgh could put the Panthers just one Connecticut loss away from that coveted automatic bid.
Unfortunately, the Panthers have failed to shake the late-season struggles that crashed their conference championship hopes a season ago. Pittsburgh entered this same weekend in 2009 undefeated in conference play, only to lose back-to-back games to West Virginia and Cincinnati to finish the season. On Friday, Pittsburgh started this home stretch just like last year with a 35-10 loss to the Mountaineers in the Backyard Brawl. With the win, West Virginia has turned around a disappointing middle of the season and set themselves up with a chance to win the conference.
But the biggest winner in the Big East on Friday was Connecticut. If the Huskies can pull out a win against Cincinnati at home on Saturday they will be one win away from their first BCS Bowl appearance in program history. Connecticut just joined the conference in 2004, and nothing would be a higher compliment to Randy Edsall and his staff than to finish 2010 as the Big East Champions. The best advantage the Huskies have in the race is owning the tie-breaker against both Pittsburgh and West Virginia thanks to their current three-game winnning streak.
But with Pittsburgh's loss on Friday, it sets up a fantastic finish for the Big East title. The Huskies control their own destiny, but with one loss could open the door for West Virginia. West Virginia just needs a win next week and one Connecticut loss to clinch the conference, and Pittsburgh can still finally grasp that conference title with a win over Cincinnati and one loss from both West Virginia and Connecticut.
Regardless of who your dog is in the fight, all eyes will be turned towards Storrs on Saturday. The Huskies, the one team who controls their own destiny, will take the field against a Bearcats squad that has the chance to spoil title hopes for two teams. Critics will argue that this finish is a result of season-long mediocrity, but the football fan in all of us is happy with the added significance to these late-season conference battles.
Posted on: November 9, 2010 2:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There has been one good piece of news to come out over the past 24 hours for Cam Newton : the Maxwell Football Club named him one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award , the organization's honor for the best player in college football. And though Newton has accumulated the stats and highlight reels of an All-American running back this season, it's perhaps for the best for him he doesn't actually play the position. That's the way it looks from the complete list of semifinalists:
WR Justin Blackmon , Oklahoma State, So.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma, Jr.
QB Andy Dalton , TCU, Sr.
QB Robert Griffin III , Baylor, So.
RB Kendall Hunter , Oklahoma State, Sr.
RB LaMichael James , Oregon, So.
QB Colin Kaepernick , Nevada, Sr.
QB Andrew Luck , Stanford, So.
QB Ryan Mallett , Arkansas, Jr.
QB Taylor Martinez , Nebraska, Fr.
QB Kellen Moore , Boise State, Jr.
QB Cam Newton , Auburn, Jr.
QB Terrelle Pryor , Ohio State, Jr.
QB Denard Robinson , Michigan, So.
QB Ricky Stanzi , Iowa, Sr.
QB Tyrod Taylor , Virginia Tech, Sr.
All right, so it's also a little odd that none of the top 16 players in the nation by the Maxwell's estimation happen to play defense. But it's nothing unusual for defenders to get snubbed in the national Player of the Year talk, and since the Maxwell Club also hands out the Bednarik Award to the nation's best defensive player, the Maxwell itself appears to be a de facto offensive players-only honor; even the great Ndamokung Suh didn't crack the semifinalists list last season .
So the much bigger surprise is that among a list of the nation's top 16 offensive players, only two running backs, Hunter and James, make the cut next to two wide receivers and a whopping 12 quarterbacks. Since when has the the second-most high-profile position on the football field been this devoid of stars?
Since 2010, apparently. Last year's Maxwell semifinalist list included seven tailbacks, including a pair of Heisman finalists in Toby Gerhart and Mark Ingram and several who returned to college football for this 2010 season: Ingram, Noel Devine , Jacquizz Rodgers , Dion Lewis . Unfortunately for those four players, the season hasn't played out as expected for any of them; not one currently ranks among even the top 30 rushers in the nation at present, with Rodgers' 803 yards (good for 33rd) the best year to-date of the bunch.
Why the sudden downturn in the fortunes of the nation's top tailbacks? Some of it is probably a simple fluke. But some of it is the continuing rise of the spread offense, which revolves around the all-purpose quarterback at the expense of pounding along with the traditional bruising tailback. Auburn , Nevada , Michigan , TCU , Baylor -- these are all some of the most explosive offenses in the country, and all five begin with a mobile QB. It's no wonder all five placed their quarterbacks on the list above despite the presence of top rushers like Nevada's Vai Taua , Baylor's Jay Finley , and TCU's Ed Wesley . This year's top pro-style attacks, meanwhile, are all quarterback-dominated as well: Stanford and Luck, Arkansas and Mallett, Boise and Moore. Offenses like the 2009 Cardinal and Tide attacks that turned Gerhart and Ingram into superstars just aren't out there this year.
They'll probably be back next year. But that doesn't mean they'll be back in the same numbers we've seen in the past; as long as the spread remains as in vogue as it is today, the kind of bludgeoning workhorse tailback that makes award lists is going to stay an increasingly endangered species.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Bednarik Award, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Denard Robinson, Dion Lewis, Ed Wesley, Iowa, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jay Finley, Justin Blackmon, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Mark Ingram, Maxwell Award, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Noel Devine, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. Ryan Broyles, Oregon, Ricky Stanzi, Robert Griffin, Ryan Mallett, Stanford, Taylor Martinez, TCU, Terrelle Pryor, Tyrod Taylor, Vai Taua, Virginia Tech
Posted on: October 16, 2010 10:04 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2010 10:08 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
1.) West Virginia's defense is playing a big part in West Virginia's success - West Virginia has largely been thought of as an offensive threat, especially with Noel Devine and Geno Smith in the backfield, but West Virginia fans should be thanking their defense for the 5-1 start. West Virginia's defensive unit shut down B.J. Daniels and the South Florida Bulls, keeping them out of the end zone for the entirety of their 20-6 win. The Mountaineers are only giving up an average of 12.3 points per game, best in the conference and making them one of the best defenses nationally. When Smith or Devine have been inconsistent, the defense has been able to carry the Mountaineers.
2.) Syracuse is not ready to be considered a contender - Last week, I mistakenly suggested that Syracuse might be ready to climb out of the incredibly deep hole and make things interesting in the Big East. After a three game winning streak, including knocking off South Florida in Tampa, the Orange looked like they were ready to make a statement against Pittsburgh. The only statement made in Pittsburgh was that Syracuse's success mostly had to do with the caliber of their opponents, and they might not be ready to be considered a contender in the Big East. Syracuse's defense looked porous against a Pittsburgh squad that has been far from impressive.
3.) Chas Dodd is the man (for now) at Rutgers - When Tom Savage went down in the second quarter against Tulane, Chas Dodd saw an opportunity to repeat history at Rutgers. When Savage was a freshman, he earned the starting job early in the season and won over fans orchestrating memorable wins like the last-minute touchdown to defeat Connecticut. Two weeks later Dodd is 2-0 as a starter, after leading the Scarlet Knights to a close win over Connecticut and a 23-20 victory of Army in overtime. Dodd threw for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead Rutgers, who had to overcome a 17-3 second quarter deficit before finally locking up the win in overtime. The starting job appears to be Dodd's, at least for now.
4.) Anyone could win the Big East (still)- West Virginia appears to be the best team in the conference, but with most teams backlogging their schedule with conference games, there is a lot of Big East football left to play. West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Rutgers all could be considered legitimate contenders, and with a few upsets Syracuse and Louisville could be added to that conversation as well. No one team looks supremely dominant, but all teams have shown flashes of greatness at some point. West Virginia is the favorite, but they will have to finish their season playing Pittsburgh and Rutgers back-to-back, so nothing is certain.
Posted on: October 6, 2010 11:36 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
When West Virginia has its first ever meeting with UNLV -- which will no doubt become one of the greatest rivalries in college football history -- on Saturday it's possible it'll be doing it with one of its best offensive weapons. Noel Devine hurt his toe in the Mountaineers' loss to LSU two weeks ago, and though Devine stayed in the game, he was obviously limited, finishing the game with only 37 yards on 14 carries.
Now, even though West Virginia was off last weekend, and Devine's toe has had time to heal, there's still some question about his status against UNLV. Not even his head coach is all that sure, though he is encouraged by how Devine is treating the injury.
"He is trying to get on the mend; he has a bone bruise under his toe," West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said of Devine, who has 391 yards and two touchdowns in the first four games. "It is not turf toe, it is a bone bruise, so when he pivots, that aches. ... A bone is not like a muscle or a joint, but hopefully he will be good."
Should Devine not be able to go on Saturday the Mountaineers will rely on Shawne Alston and Daquan Hargrett, though Stewart also said that freshman Trey Johnson could enter the mix as well.
Posted on: September 18, 2010 12:35 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 12:41 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
[UPDATE, 12:40: Maryland has recovered a West Virginia fumble at the Maryland 20. On Maryland's first play, Robinson almost threw a pick-six. Instead, it turns into a 3-and-out. Maryland is so, so bad.]
Hey, guess what? That Maryland at West Virginia game that kicked off at the top of the hour? Yeah, it's already over.
West Virginia leads 14-0 after seven minutes of gameplay, but that doesn't accurately describe how poor Maryland has looked in this game. The Mountaineers used a 50-yard scamper by Noel Devine to get into scoring position on their opening drive and got into the end zone a few snaps later.
Undaunted, Maryland responded by committing four penalties on their opening "drive," and it could have been worse; on 3rd and 28 from the 2-yard line (yeah), Terps QB Jamarr Robinson escaped a sack in the end zone only after his tackle, uh, tackled the rush end; the hold went uncalled. Maryland punted on the next snap.
West Virginia shredded Maryland's defense again on the next drive, and the second touchdown came on a pass to Tavon Austin where no Terps were within 20 yards of Austin. That is not an exaggeration. All in all, Geno Smith is 4-4 for 58 yards and two scores (both to Austin, and West Virginia averaged over 10 yards a play on their first two drives.
Oh, and Maryland just punted again. This is brutal. Do not watch this game unless you are a West Virginia fan and/or unimaginably cruel.