Fri 9/10/10 7:00 PM
Joan C. Edwards Stadium
Coaches Poll: 22
Coastal Carolina W 31-0
Coaches Poll: NR
Ohio St L 45-7
Series: WVU 9-0
First Meeting: 1911
Last Meeting: 2009
Ohio State rang up 280 rushing yards against the Herd in week one, gaining nearly seven yards every time it touched the ball. That doesn't automatically mean, however, that WVU is going to record similar yardage. The rushing styles of the two teams are entirely different, and there's no doubt that the Herd will do everything it can to limit WVU's explosive runners from getting untracked. Might West Virginia counter with more I-formation, and more inside runs to try to overpower the Herd, as OSU did? Also look for MU to flood cutback lanes with defenders to keep West Virginia's speedy runners from taking advantage of overpursuit. That, of course can open up passing zones, which WVU will have to capitalize on if Marshall does sell out to stop the run.
Herd lineman Johnny Jones' field goal block against Ohio State wasn't an isolated occurrence. The senior's snuff, which resulted in Marshall's only touchdown of the game, was the fifth of his career.
CAN THIS BE RIGHT?
Remember when Marshall continually trumpeted itself as West Virginia's team due to the number of in-state players on its roster? Wonder what happened to that rather senseless bit of bleating? It apparently dried up after looks at the most recent rosters. Marshall lists just eight Mountain State players on its most recent list, while West Virginia has 23.
Remember when we talked about injuries hitting at one position as an issue of concern in the preseason? That problem has struck for West Virginia at middle linebacker, where Pat Lazear will sit out and Branko Busick is listed as doubtful. While WVU moved Anthony Leonard over to the mike and slid Najee Goode into his vacated spot on the strong side, it definitely had an effect on WVU's defense. Goode isn't as big as Leonard, who stands up to the extra pounding that the strong side backer endures. It also limits West Virginia's ability to substitute as freely as it would like.
One final issue is that of pass defense. WVU's linebackers will be tested often with crossing routes and in routes, and the suddenly thin linebacking corps will have to be ready for the challenge.
Obviously, West Virginia is tied for first in the nation in points allowed after shutting out Coastal Carolina, but the Mountaineers are also in the top ten nationally in several other stats. WVU is fourth in punting, second in net punting, eighth in third down conversions allowed, and ninth in penalty yardage against. WVU is also tied for first in fourth down conversions and sacks against after posting unblemished marks against the Chanticleers.
Marshall's, best ranking is a number 16 slot in sacks.
Of course, it's early in the season, and quality of opposition played a large part in the stats from week one.
BREAKING THINGS UP
Interceptions and sacks are the main goals of pass defense, but batting the ball down or breaking up a catch at the receiver are also important in slowing a passing offense. West Virginia did well in that against Coastal, and needs to continue that performance. With a three-man rush on some plays, WVU does have an extra defender in pass coverage at times, but that advantage is offset by the tougher task of generating pressure. Therefore, getting hands up on the rush and in the short and intermediate zones to cut down passing lanes and either bat down or tip passes becomes more important.
Against CCU, the Mountaineer defense collected five pass breakups. J.T. Thomas led WVU with two deflections, and Najee Goode, Brandon Hogan and Julian Miller each finished with one.
NOEL DEVINE NOTE OF THE WEEK
It seems as if we'll be featuring something about WVU's stellar senior running back in every edition, but hey, why not? One of the most electrifying performers in Mountaineer history certainly deserves the notice.
While Devine's climb up WVU's career rushing chart has been well documented (he's currently fifth, with a real shot at second and an outside chance at ascending to the top of the chart. But did you know that Devine is already third on West Virginia's career all-purpose yardage leaders? He has 4,651 yards (which includes rushing, receiving and kick returns) and will pass Steve Slaton when he adds 125 yards to his total. Avon Cobourne is the all-time leader with 5,623 yards.