Previewing West Virginia

NC State (8-4) faces West Virginia (9-3) tomorrow in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl. The Mountaineers feature one of the nation's top defenses and explosive offensive weapons including tailback Noel Devine.

West Virginia Game Notes

Bowling Once Again
With its 37-10 victory over Cincinnati, West Virginia reached six wins to become bowl eligible for the ninth-consecutive season, the longest streak by any team in the BIG EAST.

Beginning with its appearance against Virginia in the 2002 Continental Tire Bowl, the Mountaineers have represented their conference by going 4-4 in bowl games during that span.

The second-longest streak of bowl game appearances in the BIG EAST belongs to USF, with the Bulls qualifying for the sixth consecutive season in 2010.

Non-Conference Play
West Virginia finished with a 4-1 record in non-conference action this year, defeating Coastal Carolina, 31-0, in the season opener, winning at Marshall, 24-21 in overtime, defeating Maryland, 31-17, in game three, dropping a 20-14 decision at Tiger Stadium in game four and winning 49-10 against UNLV.

West Virginia is 13-5 all-time under Bill Stewart in non-conference games, 10-0 at home and 3-5 in road games. Currently, West Virginia is riding a 16 game non-conference home winning streak.

West Virginia's last non-conference loss at home was a 34-17 defeat to Virginia Tech back on Oct 1, 2005. On their way to the 16-game non-conference home winning streak, the Mountaineers have defeated Marshall, Eastern Washington and Maryland in 2006, Western Michigan, East Carolina and Mississippi State in 2007, Villanova, Marshall and Auburn in 2008, Liberty, East Carolina, Colorado and Marshall in 2009 and Coastal Carolina, Maryland and UNLV in 2010.

The Mountaineers posted another winning league record in 2010 with a 5-2 mark. West Virginia's undefeated 7-0 BIG EAST record in 2005 matched the best league record by the Mountaineers since entering the conference in 1991. In 1993, West Virginia also posted a perfect 7-0 mark in BIG EAST play. Next in line is a 6-1 record in 2002 and 2003. The Mountaineers have been crowned league champi- ons in five of the last eight years and finished in second-place in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

West Virginia's third-best league record is a 5-2 mark, posted in 2006-10 and also in 1998. WVU has now posted 15 winning conference seasons in 20 years of BIG EAST action starting in 1993 (7-0), 1994 (4-3), 1995 (4-3), 1996 (4-3), 1997 (4-3), 1998 (5-2), 2002 (6-1), 2003 (6-1), 2004 (4-2), 2005 (7-0), 2006 (5-2), 2007 (5-2), 2008 (5-2), 2009 (5-2) and 2010 (5-2).

West Virginia is 88-49-1 in all-time BIG EAST play and is 47-21-1 in BIG EAST home games followed by a 41-28 mark in conference road games. Coach Bill Stewart is 15-6 overall in BIG EAST play with an 9-2 home record and a 6-4 road record in the conference. The Mountaineers are 48-14 in BIG EAST games since the start of the 2002 season, and 31-11 in their last 42 conference games. WVU has won league championships in 1993, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010 and finished in second place in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

National Polls
West Virginia is ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. The Mountaineers re-entered the polls on Nov. 28 after their 35-10 win at Pitt, at No. 23 in the AP Poll and No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

The Mountaineers dropped out on Oct. 24, after the Syracuse game. In the Oct. 17 rankings, WVU was ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press Poll and No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

The Mountaineers were ranked for the first four weeks of the season, entering the 2010 season ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll and tied for No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. After defeating Maryland, 31-17, in game three, the Mountaineers were ranked No. 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 22 in the AP Poll. They were receiving votes after losing 20-14 at LSU on Sept. 25. The Mountaineers re-entered both national polls at No. 25 on Oct. 10 after its 49-10 win over UNLV. WVU has been ranked among the Top 25 in the final polls for five straight years in the final AP Poll and four of the last five years in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

West Virginia spent 46 consecutive weeks in the national polls from Oct. 9, 2005 - Sept. 28, 2008. The Mountaineers were ranked in the Top 10 for 31 out of the 38 weeks, including as high as No. 1 in 2007. Since 2002, West Virginia has been ranked in the Top 25 for 81 weeks, including 33 weeks in the Top 10.

Against The ACC
West Virginia is 96-96-5 against current members of the ACC, including a 7-7 record since 2002. WVU is 21-11-1 against Boston College; 0-1 vs. Clemson; 1-3 vs. Duke; 0-3 against Florida State; 1-2 against Georgia Tech; 24-21-2 against Maryland; 3-16 vs. Miami; 1-1 against North Carolina; 5-4 vs. NC State; 10-12-1 against Virginia; 28-22-1 vs. Virginia Tech and 2-0 all-time vs. Wake Forest.

With the 31-17 victory over Maryland on Sept. 18, the Mountaineers currently have won four of their last five games against teams which hail from the ACC.

For Starters
Entering the NC State game, the Mountaineers have a total of 37 players with at least one game of starting experience. Tops on that list are senior defensive linemen Scooter Berry (40) and Chris Neild (39), and senior linebacker J.T. Thomas with 38 consecutive starts.

Senior receiver Jock Sanders has 37 starts to his credit, and senior running back Noel Devine has started 33 games.

Rolling After Bowling
In the 28 seasons after going to a bowl, the Mountaineers have compiled a 214-116-5 record. WVU has earned back-to-back bowl berths 14 times, including nine straight, currently a school record.

The 2010 Mountaineer Roster
The 2010 roster consists of 114 players from 16 different states and two foreign countries. Leading the way is the Mountain State, represented by 25 players, Florida (19), Pennsylvania (15), Ohio (16), Maryland and Virginia (11), Alabama and New Jersey (3), New York (2), Georgia (2) and one from Arizona, California, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee. Defensive lineman Curtis Feigt hails from Berlin, Germany, and Soraya Aisien-Ogbebor is from Lagos, Nigeria.

True Freshmen Players
Six true freshmen have seen action this season for the Mountaineers. Those players include Barry Brunetti (QB), Ivan McCartney (WR), Travis Bell (DB), Trey Johnson (RB), Mike Dorsey (DB) and Doug Rigg (LB).

First-Time Players
There have been 23 Mountaineers who have seen action for the first time this season, including Tyler Anderson (LB), Stedman Bailey (WR), Travis Bell (DB), Cole Bowers (OL), Brantwon Bowser (DB), Barry Brunetti (QB), Branko Busick (LB), Will Clarke (DE), Darwin Cook (DB), Mike Dorsey (DB), Pat Eger (OL), Daquan Hargrett (RB), John Howard (K), C.J. Huffman (DL), Bruce Irvin (DE), Brodrick Jenkins (DB), Trey Johnson (RB), Ivan McCartney (WR), Gregg Pugnetti (P), Doug Rigg (LB), Corey Smith (P/K), Chris Snook (FB) and Casey Vance (LB).

Luck is with the Mountaineers
Former West Virginia University and NFL quarterback and Academic All-American Oliver Luck was named WVU's director of intercollegiate athletics on June 10. The two-time Academic All-American is a member of the Academic All-American Hall of Fame and was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. He was also a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, graduating from WVU magna cum laude in 1982.

Luck played quarterback for the Mountaineers from 1978-81, setting school records for touchdown passes and completions, and leading the team to a Peach Bowl victory over Florida as a senior. He ended his career as a three-year starter with school records of 43 career touchdown passes and 466 completions out of 911 passing attempts. His 5,765 career passing yards ranks him fourth on the school's all-time passing list. He was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

Average Per Down Breakdown
Here's a breakdown of how the 2010 West Virginia offense operates on first, second, third and fourth down.

On first down, the Mountaineers have run a total of 367 plays and have gained 2,052 yards for a 5.6 average. On second down, the Mountaineers have run 277 plays for 1,297 yards and a 4.7 aver- age. On third down, the Mountaineers have run 186 plays for 1,132 yards and a 6.1 average gain. West Virginia has tried 14 fourth-down plays in 2010, gaining 38 yards for a 2.7 average. WVU's touchdowns have come 19 times on first down (10 rushing and nine passing), eight times on second down (five rushing and three passing), 13 times on third down (two rushing, 11 passing) and one time on fourth down (zero rushing, one passing).

Offensive Analysis
Breaking down the West Virginia offensive numbers for the 2010 season, the Mountaineers have run a total of 844 plays, 501 coming on the ground and 343 through the air. The rushing game has totaled 1,946 yards, an average of 3.9 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns. The passing attack has totaled 2,573 yards, 23 touchdowns and an average of 11.5 yards per completion.

Combine the two and the Mountaineers have turned in 4,519 yards of total offense, and 41 offensive touchdowns for an average of 5.4 yards per play, and an average of 26.7 points per game. Deeper analysis shows that the Mountaineer offense gained 116 first downs by the run and 102 via the pass. On average, West Virginia has totaled 162.2 yards per game on the ground, 214.4 per game passing and 376.6 yards of total offense.

West Virginia Head Coach Quotables

On the senior class and their last practice at WVU:
Our senior class has just been outstanding. You take young men like our skill men Noel Devine and Jock Sanders, our linebackers like Pat Lazear, Anthony Leonard and J.T. Thomas, Scooter Berry and Chris Neild on the line, and Eric Jobe as a guard on the offensive line – they've just been tremendous role models and leaders for this football program, our University, and certainly for the people of West Virginia.

Morgantown is a very unique and great place to come as a young man, and to go from young manhood into manhood. It's just been fantastic how these guys have grown as seniors. Most have been here for four or five years, and it's just been really neat to see these young men grow.

We hate it. We'd like to keep those guys around for another year, but it is what it is. Life marches on, and so do these seniors. I hope they go out with a bang. I hope each senior has a banner day and a fantastic finish. We're going to win the football game the best way we can, and hopefully these seniors will have a big, big part in it.

On his message to his seniors:
I told them to hustle up, and they said it was the same old Stewart. I've been here driving them. I don't want to talk about it now with them, because I hate it. We'll talk about it tomorrow night at our meetings.

They (the seniors) will play hard. The last four weeks of this season, our senior class stepped up and played, and they hit the ball out of the park. What they have done for this program, the University and the people of West Virginia should be remembered forever. This is a senior class that has shown nothing but great resolve and great. When people were knocking us and trying to separate us and bust us within, our seniors didn't buy into it, didn't want to hear it and stayed focused. They stuck with the Mountaineer work ethic which they believe in, and they have done a great job.

On the seniors from Florida playing with too much emotion:
They have gotten better. When Jock and Noel were freshmen and played at USF, it wasn't a good outing. It was a rough night. They were just trying to do too much. I though last year in the Gator Bowl, we were trying to do too much. Florida State only recruited one of my guys. I think everyone was trying to prove too much.

They just want to play a game on Tuesday. We want to stay within the framework of our offense, defense and special teams, and keep in mind that it's just a game. It just happens to be in Florida.

On the windy weather affecting the special teams' preparation:
We're going to prepare today, still. I told them (the video crew) that I'm going to watch them on the lifts – I don't like that.

We have to kick (today) because we were inside for all of our work in Morgantown; we couldn't get out on the field, because it was so cold and snowy. We were hoping to get out down here, and now we have this weather. We kicked yesterday. It will be OK.

On the progress of Pat Miller's play this year:
He's gotten better, as has Brodrick Jenkins. Hopefully, we'll have our Swat 40 team in there, too, where we'll have our safeties up as linebackers. The biggest thing for this game, in my opinion, is that we have to keep them from big gains on first down. With Russell Wilson, they can't be first and 10, first and 10, and get into a rhythm. He'll run us right out of the park. We have to get them out of rhythm. If we do that, then we get a chance to play more of our speed guys, which will help guys like Pat or Brodrick cover their tall receivers.

It's big time important (for Pat and Brodrick to step-up). It's crucial. Those receivers are bigger and taller than our guys. From what I've seen, they look faster than our guys. I don't think anyone will give us a chance come Tuesday. We'll see. We'll play.

On NC State's defense:
They come at you. Here's the biggest problem I see with them – if their front seven can get to us before we can get the ball to our playmakers in space, then they will be very successful. If we can keep those guys from getting to us and get the ball in the flat to Jock and Tavon (Austin), I don't think those guys can tackle them. That's going to be the key. We can also pop them with our run game if they loosen a little. Geno has to run the football for us to be successful, and he will run the football. What you've seen over the last four games is what you're going to see Tuesday night.

Who will take Madsen's spot on the offensive line?
Eric Jobe will be our starting center, (John) Bassler and (Jeff) Braun will also play. Cole Bowers will be our starting right guard. There will be a chance for Bassler to get some time in there. We will have to pick up the saber and march on. These guys have all played. Jobe has played center here for two years so he has experience to get the job done. We are going to play just as if someone got hurt on the first series of a game.

What does Cole Bowers give your team?
He was able to get a lot of playing time at LSU. He's a very talented young man. He should have a heck of a future. He needs to go in and play, pick up the saber and press on. I trust him to get it done.

On if you will utilize Noel Devine more is he healthy:
We will play to win the game. We will play with the personnel we have within our game plan. Regardless of whether it is Noel, Jock or our seniors, we hope to be in a position to play who we need to.

On NC State's Offense:
NC State has a big, tall and a physical line. When I was watching the film, Wilson (Russell) bounces all-around. He put a game on by himself, his first 10-12 plays were passes or runs. We have to stop them from making hay on first down. He is their guy who sets the tempo. If we get them off schedule and out of rhythm, we have a chance.

On NC State's Defense:
They are a strong, physical and fast unit. Their linebackers come down the hill like ours do. Their front seven is very good. I watched them against other ACC teams and they knocked them back in the backfield.

On what you are trying to accomplish these next two days in practice:
We are going good on good today. We have most of the hard practices out of the way. We are going to run today but I have to watch because they were on their feet a lot at Universal yesterday. Our guys are doing great. We are really working hard and watching film. I'm very proud of these young men.

West Virginia Depth Chart


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