"Rasheed [Marshall], this year particularly, he's been very accurate. He's seeing the field better. He's been in our system for four years. He's playing with much more confidence," stated West Virginia Head Coach Rich Rodriguez earlier.
Marshall has made the most of his senior season at West Virginia. He's established himself as a dual threat to run or pass and he's one of the two or three primary reasons West Virginia is where they are today.
With is 1,607 career rushing yards, Marshall has surpassed both Donovan McNabb (1,561) and Michael Vick (1,197) as the Big East's top QB rusher. In West Virginia's previous contest, a home win versus Syracuse, Marshall continued to add to his total by amassing 87 yards on the ground, and throwing for three TDs.
Which brings us to the second aspect of Marshall's duality.
He can throw the ball. He picks his spots, but when he does, he makes the most of it.
Marshall attempts only 18 pass plays per contest and completes a seemingly meager 11 per game. It's not these numbers that have opposing coaching staffs worried when they suit up to play West Virginia. It's the fact that he doesn't make mistakes. Marshall is currently leading Big East QBs in quarterback-rating, with an impressive 154.4. He's thrown for 12 scores and been picked off only 4 times the entire year. Add to that four contests where he's rushed for more than 50 yards per game, totaling 426 yards on the season, and you have a recipe for a defensive coordinator's nightmare.
What makes West Virginia the most complete team in the conference is their ability to mesh an effective QB with an efficient rushing attack.
"Whoever gets the hot hand, that's who we'll go to."
The Mountaineers throw an impressive stable of backs at opposing defenses. Freshman Pernell Williams is the youngest of the trio. Ranking 5th nationally in rushing yards per game, it's the duo of Jason Colson (SO) (519 yards, 5.4 ypr) and Kay-Jay Harris (SR) (616 yards, 6.3 ypr) that have done most of the damage. Coach Rodriguez expects all three backs to see some action in Piscataway.
Adding to Rutgers woes will be the defense of wideouts Chris Henry (6-5) and Miquelle Henderson (6-3), both of which serve significant size advantages over Rutgers' cornerbacks. Rutgers tallest CB is listed at 6-1: Eddie Grimes. An additional burden to the Scarlet Knight defense will be the absence of key DBs, including Eddie Grimes and Manny Collins (both listed as doubtful), two of the three Rutgers players involved in a car accident nearly two weeks ago.
Rich Rodriguez on the Big East Conference:
"Everybody talks about our league being down. We have 1 team with a losing record in our conference - that's not bad. Rutgers themselves have beaten a team from the Big 10 and the SEC.
Rich Rodriguez on the continued emergence of Adam "PacMan" Jones:
PacMan Jones has emerged as a specialist and a defender to be respected by opposing teams. Recently, he's also been used offensively. "We're just trying to pick our moments [with how we use him]."
"He plays fast all the time. He practices the same way."
Rich Rodriguez on his penalty prone Mountaineers:
"On some of the penalties, we're stupid. Some of the penalties are what I call lazy penalties. I think we've gotten better during the last couple of weeks."
Odds and Ends:
West Virginia has defeated Rutgers 9 straight times. In 2000, WVU held on for a 31-24, double overtime victory at Rutgers Stadium. Rutgers last victory against the Mountaineers was a 17-12 decision in Piscataway.
West Virginia leads the all-time series versus the Scarlet Knights by a margin of 25 to 4. There have also been 2 ties, the first two games of the series, which dates back to 1916.
After playing each year from 1916 through 1923, the two schools took a break from competition before renewing their rivalry in 1980. The universities have played every year since then.
Junior WR Chris Henry is 1 TD away from tying the single-season school record of 11, set in 1989 by Reggie Rembert.
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