One week earlier the WVU defense allowed 27 points to a balanced Hokie offense that averages greater than 150 yards on the ground and in the air (the total of 34 points, some may argue, should actually be 20 points given the short field WVU gave VPI early on in the game after a costly turnover). A VPI offense that has scored in excess of 40 points each time out, except for their contest versus the Mountaineers.
Moving the ball on the ground or in the air would be no small feat for the Scarlet Knights. And when you take away the very engine that drives the train, it becomes that much more difficult. Indeed, if you look at the numbers the balance is striking - running and passing plays were nearly divided right down the middle. But it's no secret what Rutgers does best offensively - the Scarlet Knights throw the ball to be most effective.
Throw in a stiff 20 mile per hour wind and what you have is havoc on the field when the ball is in the air. Scarlet Knight fans need only be reminded of what type of swirl that ensues inside the stadium when the breeze is strong enough by recalling the Syracuse game two years ago.
It's not an excuse, it's reality. The wind impacted Rutgers' aerial attack. And the West Virginia defense punished the Scarlet Knight ball-carriers.
"This is honestly the worst I have ever felt after a game. I need to get to the trainer's room," stated a bruised Leonard after the game.
"Rutgers is a good team and we fought hard for the win today," said Sr. DB Jahmile Addae. "Rutgers changed some things in the second hald and was able to cut our lead. But we made some adjustments to see what we were doing wrong and we ended up succeeding."
A literally, bruising defense, that while physically punishing was not able to take Rutgers completely off its game. However, a limited offensive attack added to some costly mistakes that WVU capitalized on proved decisive.
"Our ability to not turn the ball over was a big deal. We controlled the ball and the offense did a really good job of keeping possession, especially in this weather," continued Addae.
It's the execution boss, the execution.
Give the other team your possession four times and you get what you deserve. It's more of a miracle that Rutgers wasn't blown out of this game, as perhaps it should have been.
"Today was a very important win for us. We played a very strong Rutgers team and it was a very big game in the Big East Conference. Rutgers is definitely a quality team and we knew we had to be ready in all facets of the game," said Sr. DB Mike Lorello.
"They're the hardest-hitting team I've ever faced," said Leonard in response to the punishing, though fair, hitting by the sound Mountaineer defense.
"You can see all the bruises and the black eye."
Despite the physical style of play, significantly to the advantage of West Virginia, Rutgers continued to fight hard.
And a quick glance at the numbers paints an interesting picture. One that I like to call "reality".
FIRST DOWNS: WVU-15/RU-17
NET YARDS RUSHING: WVU-236/RU-124
NET YARDS PASSING: WVU-78/RU-171
TOTAL OFFENSE YARDS: WVU-314/RU-295
Time of Possession: WVU-26:16/RU-33:44
What's perhaps most striking is that the differences above are ... not very different. Indeed, cite this specific statistical comparison to any college football fan and request they give you an outcome based on this and you'll likely get something a lot closer that the actual result.
If this fan happens to have a firm enough grasp of the game, he/she will pose 2 additional questions:
1. What was the turnover situation?
2. What was the Special teams situation?
Clearly, these questions were posed with the intention of making a point.
The defensive scheming was not out of whack.
The offensive play calling was, as surprising as it may seem, quite balanced (38 rushes and 33 passes/14 rushes and 15 passes on 1st down).
"They have done a good job of building that program [Rutgers] up," stated Coach Rodriguez in regards to his counterpart Coach Schiano.
It's the execution boss, the execution.