Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen and linebacker Erin Henderson called him the "little guy." Linebacker Moise Fokou referred to him by his number.
His name is Noel Devine, and on Thursday night, the diminutive freshman from Fort Myers, Fla., went from an Internet legend to a budding college star.
"He's kind of hard to find when he's out there," Henderson said. "He was pretty effective. I'm going to look forward to watching him in the future."
Chances are Henderson or a teammate has already watched plenty of him. His high school highlight reels on YouTube have over 1 million combined views. He's been known nationally since his freshman tapes hit the Web four years ago.
Even with all the hype surrounding the 5-foot-8, 170-pound Devine, Friedgen and the defense didn't focus much on him in preparing for the game—and for good reason. West Virginia has two Heisman threats starting in front of him. But it was Devine who stole the show, averaging a staggering 27.2 yards per carry Thursday night.
"I didn't realize he's as fast as he is," Friedgen said. He's as fast as Slaton. He's pretty elusive, too."
One wrong step
In the week leading up to last night's game, Friedgen mentioned that if a defender is one step out of position, West Virginia will exploit it and run for a big gain.
Friedgen was so weary of the Mountaineers attack he said the defense "probably did a good job" in holding Steve Slaton to 137 yards rushing. He's not kidding, and he's probably not far off in his praise—he averaged 5.3 yards per carry and his long was only 22 yards, which are pretty pedestrian numbers for him.
"I thought we did a pretty good job of containing him," Friedgen said. "The problem with these guys is if you step one step out of position, they're going to make a big play. You almost have to be perfect, and I thought for a lot of the time we were perfect."
Fokou saw it first hand:
"This team is an explosive team. Any little seam they get they shoot out of it like rockets. That was evident especially with No. 7 tonight."
No. 7 = Devine. The same could probably be said for No. 10 (Slaton), too.
Clearing the air
There was a lot of criticism of Friedgen's play call with 13 seconds left in the first half and the ball on the West Virginia 49. It was first down after Maryland recovered a Pat White fumble and Jordan Steffy threw a screen pass to Keon Lattimore, which was stopped for a loss of 1 yard.
Friedgen said afterwards that it was his call. He noticed in past games, West Virginia would be in a prevent defense in that situation. With the quick dump off, and adequate blocking from the wide receivers, Friedgen thought Lattimore could get it into field goal range.
It didn't work out that way, partly because Steffy threw it behind Lattimore and partly because, well, West Virginia wasn't in a prevent defense.
Maryland guard Andrew Crummey:
"I don't see a moral victory here. It's a loss and it's one we shouldn't have lost."
Jordan Steffy on Friedgen's play calling:
"He's been doing this for a long time. I'm not going to question anything coach does. That's that, pretty much."
Steve Slaton on playing Maryland:
"It's intense for me, coming in here after what has happened in the past. I figure I'm in the right place now, so I should thank them."
West Virginia vs. Maryland Notebook
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