Rutgers DBs on Containing the WVU Offense

Rutgers will be challenged right away in its first conference game as they have to neutralize the dynamic West Virginia offense.

To beat them, the Scarlet Knights are going to have to stop, or try to contain, fifth-year quarterback Pat White and sophomore running back Noel Devine.

When trying to neutralize a rushing attack that's second best in the Big East with nearly 240 yards per game, the defensive backs know they will have to play as much of a role as the front seven.

"As a corner in the game, you know going against those guys that you're going to have to make tackles and not just play the pass," senior cornerback Devin McCourty said. "But, those two guys are so talented that they get to the edge quick and you're going to have to make the tackle."

Last year was the first time Rutgers saw White in person. After watching him rush for 156 yards and a touchdown, sophomore safety Joe Lefeged said his abilities can't be completely appreciated on film.

"He's a lot faster in person," Lefeged said. "You really have to get adjusted to the different type of speed they have."

This year, White is sixth in the conference averaging just over 92 yards a game and third with 6.3 yards per attempt. He's already the Big East's career leading rusher and just 415 yards away from becoming the NCAA's all-time best.

Even though they got a look at the 2008 Preseason Big East Player of the Year, McCourty said you still never know what to expect from him.

"When you play against big players, they're going to make plays," he said. "Playing him once you get a feel, but you never know what they're going to do in the game."

White's not the only player on the Knights' radar. Once running back Steve Slaton went to the NFL, the defending Big East Champions brought out Devine, their latest rushing phenom.

In 2007, Devine was a five-star prospect coming out of Fort Myers, Fla., and the No. 3 back in the country according to Scout.com. Now he has 399 yards rushing and is averaging six and a half yards per carry - good for second in the conference.

Head coach Greg Schiano said watching Devine is like watching the amazing plays you see on YouTube. While not much of an internet person himself, he has seen plenty of film on the speedy back in the video room and his highlight reel is quite the eye opener.

"It gets the buzz going in our office," Schiano said. "It's fun to see as you're watching it, until you realize you have to stop it."

To call so many run plays that come at a defense from so many different angles, the offense needs its wide receivers to help out in the blocking. McCourty said the Mountaineers' wide outs are very willing to dish out blocks.

"They get into it," he said. "A lot of times you'll hear that receivers don't like to block, but those guys really try to get on you. They have good players, and they know that if they hold their blocks, they'll make plays."

While WVU is primarily known for how effectively they run the ball, White has improved as a passer. He's completed over 73 percent of his passes this season, and has thrown seven touchdowns with only one interception. His 142.0 quarterback efficiency rating is third best in the conference.

"When you watch him this year, he's really throwing the ball well," McCourty said. "You have to help in the run, but as a corner, you're main concern is the pass so you always have to be on point."

Against Navy, Schiano said a team needs to come up with a "defense of the week" to combat its "unique" offense. West Virginia runs the ball in a variety of fashions, but he said Rutgers will only have to make a few subtle changes, and not overhaul the whole base defense.

Lefeged knows his defense will have to hold a very potent offense. To do so, everyone needs to be on-point.

"You have to know every single play the offense throws at you so you can make you're certain checks," he said. "If you don't make it that can be the play they score on you."


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