WVU - ECU Matchups

West Virginia will have to prevail in a number of battles along the front line in order to get their first win of the 2003 season.


WVU defensive end Fred Blueford vs. East Carolina offensive tackle Brian Rimpf

This battle of seniors has ECU's Rimpf, an All-America candidate, facing off against Blueford, who has had an up and down career since joining the Mountaineers as a junior college transfer.

The Pirates will be looking to get their running game cranked up, and they figure to run behind their best lineman in an attempt to do so. Even at his program weight of 280 pounds, "Blue" will be giving up almost 30 lbs. to Rimpf, so he'll have to use all of his weapons in order to battle the ECU standout.

Blueford hasn't been the most motivated of Mountaineers over his career, and his time in college is ticking away. If he hopes to begin making a big contribution to WVU's success, he couldn't pick a better time to do so.

WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez vs. East Carolina coaches John Thompson and Rick Stockstill

Rodriguez is very familiar with both coaches, being a long time acquaintance with Thompson and a coaching colleague of Stockstill's at Clemson. With the coaches having a bit more insight into how each other thinks and plans, the strategic matchup on the field should be interesting.

Does WVU try to tweak things a bit to keep Thompson and Stockstill off guard? Do the ECU coaches change up their tendencies from a week ago in an attmept to both improve performance and catch the Mountaineers napping?

Of course, coaches can't do an overhaul of their entire scheems in one week, especially after losses. The focus is on correcting errors rather than putting in new plays, formations or coverages. However, it should be interesting to see which team is able to outmaneuver the other to get the strategic upper hand.

WVU guard Dan Mozes vs. East Carolina linebacker Chris Moore

This faceoff is a battle of youth, as opposed to the seniors in our first matchup. Mozes had a respectable game in his first appearance in a Mountaineer uniform, but is eager to improve. He's been talked about so long in the Mountaineer camp that it's easy to forget he's just a redshirt freshman with only one game of experience.

Dan Mozes
Mozes won't be facing him all the time, but he'll have some assignments that will lead him against Moore, who is to the Pirates run defense as Grant Wiley is to WVU's. Moore, a sophomore, is a mobile backer who fills gaps quickly and aggressively. He piled up 24 tackles last week, and is a handful for any lineman to get a clean shot on. Moore plays off blocks well and has a nose for the football that will remind many Mountaineer fans of Wiley as well.

To get West Virginia's running game in gear, WVU must get their linemen out to the "second level" and effectively block the linebacker at the point of attack. If Mozes can win this matchup of young talent, the Mountaineers could be rolling up yards on the ground again.


Quick, who were WVU's leading receivers against the Pirates last year? The answer: the graduated Avon Cobourne and the departed J.T. Perry, each with two catches for 14 yards.

Of course, the Mountaineers figure to try to crank up their ground attack against the shaky Pirate run defense, but it's vital that West Virginia develops something of a passing game. Wisconsin showed that slowing the Mountaineer rushing attack can be done, and is the key to beating WVU. Even amidst a steady diet of Quincy Wilson, look for Rich Rodriguez to try to get his big receivers into the flow of the game early.

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Cornerback Brian King had a monster day against Wisconsin, with 13 tackles and a pass breakup. That deflection puts him just four beind alltime leader Aaron Beasley, who had 38 in his career.

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Barring injury, there's not much doubt King will hold that record by the end of 2003. He's been one of the more underappreciated players on the Mountaineer roster, and now's the time for that to change.

King has become a very tough cover corner who plays the run aggressively and has the burst of closing speed to knock away passes at the last moment. He does it without fanfare, but the next time you see the Mountaineers play, watch how number 11 plays the game. His fundamental positioning and fearless tackling have become a linchpin of the West Virginia secondary.

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Time of possession should also be an interesting battle to watch. West Virginia's quick tempo offense, when it's not clicking, usually leads to a deficit on the time of possession battle. East Carolina, on the other hand, hasn't held a time of possession advantage over an entire season since the 1994 campaign. The Pirates have faced a nearly 6:00 deficit on the clock over the last two seasons, so something's got to give. Of course, it's not always how long you have the ball, it's what you do with it while you have it that counts.

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A final area to watch is the offensive line, which has been undergoing some personnel shakeups this week. The right side of the line, could see some new faces, including Travis Garrett at guard.

There's always the possibility that those changes could trickle over to the left side too. If more help at guard is needed, Jeff Berk could slide over from his left tackle spot, with Mike Watson perhaps filling that position.

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