Look At Next Foe WVU

Wednesday evening, UConn will be taking on their third Big East opponent when the West Virginia Mountaineers visit the Huskies. The 7:30 p.m. matchup will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Here's a look at the Coaches Poll (<I>USA Today/ESPN</I>) number 16 team.


Both West Virginia and the Big East sustained a few hits after the Mountaineers' 19-13 loss at Virginia Tech on Oct. 2.

As the only Big East team ranked in either top 25 poll (no. 16 in USA Today/ESPN and no. 17 in the Associated Press), West Virginia has carried the mantle for the reconfigured league this season. So it didn't help the conference's reputation when the Mountaineers fell to one of the ACC's newest members.

Coach Rich Rodriguez, however, has bigger problems.

Harris could miss game

When West Virginia (4-1) returns to action on Oct. 13 at Connecticut (4-1), the Mountaineers may be without running back Kay Jay Harris. The Big East's leading rusher (114.2 ypg.) is recovering from a sprained knee and ankle suffered against Virginia Tech.

Harris was limited to 22 yards on seven carries against the Hokies before he went to the sideline with injuries. Backup Jason Colson added 47 yards on 12 attempts.

The Mountaineers' top rusher was quarterback Rasheed Marshall, who contributed 74 yards on 16 carries. Marshall also completed 9 of 19 pass attempts for 81 yards, but was unable to lead his team into the end zone.

West Virginia has never faced Connecticut, which is in its first season as a Big East member. The Huskies are also coming off a bye.




West Virginia has the top scoring offense in the Big East at 35.6 points per game, ranking first in rushing (247.6 ypg.) and sixth in passing (162.4 ypg.). Rasheed Marshall is the Big East's top-rated passer, even though he does more with his feet than his arm. Marshall has thrown for 765 yards this season and eight touchdowns, rushing for 229 yards and two additional scores.


If West Virginia could get better pressure on the quarterback, its defensive ranking might soar. The Mountaineers have only five sacks but are still ranked third in the Big East in scoring defense (17.6 ppg.).


"It was a little fire and brimstone and we did it with the whole team so they can understand some of the things that aren't tolerable. Everyone makes a missed assignment now and then, but not to the degree that we had on certain plays and not with the intensity we put forth." -- Coach Rich Rodriguez, regarding the motivational tactics employed after West Virginia's 19-13 loss to Virginia Tech on Oct. 2.



West Virginia's offense has been superb inside the red zone. The Mountaineers have been successful on 17 of 18 opportunities and lead the Big East in scoring (35.6 ppg.).


Though West Virginia's rushing attack has been the Big East's best (247.6 ypg.), coach Rich Rodriguez might make some changes. He has even entertained the possibility of abandoning the I-back formation. The Mountaineers also struggled with third-down conversion opportunities (0-for-13) at Virginia Tech.


RB Kay-Jay Harris (knee, ankle), the Big East's leading rusher, is doubtful. SS Lawrence Audena, the Mountaineers' leading tackler through four games, and FB Justin Dziak (hamstring) are questionable.

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