Tough on Both Sides of the Ball

No. 7 West Virginia (6-1, 1-1) is known for being a fast, offensive team. However, the Mountaineers are dangerous on both sides of the football. West Virginia is ranked in the top ten in both scoring offense and defense. The Mountaineers average 42 points per game and allow, on average, 17 points per game.

Rutgers (5-2, 2-1) will have its hands full this Saturday as they try to prepare for the offensive and defensive attack of West Virginia.

"It is a different type of defense," RU quarterback Mike Teel said, alluding to the Mountaineers unorthodox 3-3-5 stack. "So you don't see it that much, the 3-3-5. They are fast. They are physical. They play hard. They play like a top ten football team. They swarm the ball. They bring pressure you are not really used to because of the style of their defense. So you have to be aware of what they are doing and have an idea of what you want to do against it."

The odd stack defense that Rodriguez employed after his initial year at WVU, is a run-oriented type of defense that confuses offensive line blocking assignments and gives the defense additional second level personnel. As is often not the case for linemen, these secondary level players can play in space with an improved view of where the ball is and where it is going.

Given the stacked personnel along the trenches that Rutgers is likely to see on Saturday, the play of veteran QB Mike Teel should once again have significant importance. However, Teel's right throwing hand continues to be a lingering issue. The Junior QB practiced with a bandaged right throwing hand Tuesday afternoon. Teel initially banged his hand on an opponent's helmet while in a throwing motion and has now done so in consecutive weeks.

Teel should be able to go against West Virginia this Saturday, but he has been limited in what he can do out on the practice field.

"I am not a doctor," Coach Schiano said. "I just go by the information given and knowing the young man, I think he is going to play."

West Virginia Head Coach Rich Rodriguez has endured only one losing season in his seven-year tenure. Rodriguez has taken the Mountaineers to the Gator Bowl three out of the last four years and he won the Sugar Bowl in 2005, a victory many Big East supporters point to when alluding to the conference's strength at the very top.

The back-to-back 11 win seasons have been helped in large part to quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton, both of whom are Heisman contenders this season. West Virginia is 21-3 when both White and Slaton play.

Perhaps what is most impressive is that the Mountaineers are one of two teams to be ranked in the top-12 nationally in total offense, total defense, scoring offense, and scoring defense. WVU racks up 481 yards per game, 304 of which comes along the ground (good enough for second nationally) but has also allowed a paltry 255 yards per game defensively (good enough for fourth nationally). Impressively, WVU's rushing defense allows 89 yards per game, a tribute to the odd stack that the Mountaineers are executing to near perfection.

"They were a young defense a year ago and now they got more experience," Coach Schiano said. "The year before that they were a veteran defense. They are kind of like we are this year, they were last year, they had a lot of young guys filling in and those young guys get better as they play more."

Coach Schiano has not been able to figure out West Virginia and Coach Rodriguez during his time on the Banks. Rutgers is 0-6 against the Mountaineers since Coach Schiano has taken over the program.

"We are not thinking about that," Rutgers safety Courtney Greene said. "That is when you get out of sync, when you start thinking about things like that and start doing other things than your job. We just need to worry about doing our job and playing one play at a time."

However, last season it took three overtimes for West Virginia to come away winners, in what wound up being an instant classic at Mountaineer Field. The Scarlet Knights know what they need to do to beat the Mountaineers.

"I think you draw upon all experiences," Teel said. "Not just necessarily that game but of course you do because it goes to three overtimes and it does not go the way you want. Every time you go out you learn and at some point in time what you learned in previous games it going to pay off."

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