Turkey Hunter

For a coach, the ideal schedule includes a nice mix of upper echelon teams and lower ranked teams that should be easy wins. Playing the best that college football has to offer week in and week out can really take a toll on a team, and a lesser team can help ease the difficult schedule and put a few notches in the win column.

If WVU senior safety Brian King had his choice, however, the Virginia Tech Hokies would be on the schedule for 12 straight weeks.

In the past two contests against the Hokies, King has recorded three interceptions, including a game saving pick last year in Blacksburg, and two big take-aways in last week's big win in Morgantown.

"Two picks in one game is unbelievable," admitted the Maryland native. "If we played Tech every week I might have 12 by now."

The first of King's two interceptions came deep in West Virginia territory as Tech was driving to take an early lead. King read the eyes of Hokie quarterback Bryan Randall and stepped in front of the pass to give the Mountaineers the ball. The turnover not only kept Virginia Tech off the board, it put the momentum in West Virginia's corner and brought a fired up Mountaineer Field crowd into the game as the WVU faithful flashed back to King's pick a year ago.

"The plays were so similar to each other in that he really never saw me," said King of last year's game saver and Wednesday night's touchdown saver. "He thought he had an open lane to throw it, but I read it well and stepped in front. To make a play early when the momentum wasn't yet decided was great. I thought it really turned the momentum our way and we were able to go down and score to go up 7-0."

By now, you all know the story. West Virginia took full advantage of the early score and never looked back en route to a convincing 28-7 win over the third ranked Hokies. King continued to make play after play and added a late interception to help seal the deal. When the clock read all zeroes and the Mountaineer sounded his rifle, the stadium exploded as Mountaineer players, fans, and coaches celebrated one of the biggest wins in the history of West Virginia football.

"It was huge,' said King of the Mountaineers' upset win. "It was a Wednesday night game and everyone was watching. People that you are not even aware of but that knew me were watching, and any real football fan was watching. It wasn't just a victory; we gave it to them. It was very gratifying. When the game ended, I ran to the 50 to celebrate with my teammates. Of course I couldn't find anybody because there were so many people on the field. I found my parents in the end zone and hugged them. It was such a great feeling, and I will remember this win for the rest of my life. "

In King's eyes, the key to the Mountaineer win was an aggressive defense that stuffed the highly touted Hokie offense all night.

"Our game plan every week is to stop the run and control the pass," explained King. "A lot of teams want to come out with two tight ends and try to pound it on us. I don't think teams like Tech realized they couldn't run the ball on us. We held Jones to 57 yards. I think that surprised their whole coaching staff. At the end of the game with four minutes left they had three timeouts and didn't use any of them. They just wanted to get back to Blacksburg."

King's play not only helped lead the Mountaineers to an upset broadcast throughout the land on ESPN, it earned him Big East Defensive Player of the Week honors when the awards were announced on Monday.

"It's a great honor," said King of the conference recognition. To do it against a big team like Tech made it even bigger. Grant (Wiley, who has certainly one his share of Big East honors) told me that they send out a nice plaque and really take care of you, but that won't come until the end of the year."

The win was spectacular and the award put the icing on the cake, but what satisfied the senior athletic coaching major the most was getting back to playing Mountaineer football.

"We want to play aggressive and get after people," said King. "We want to play fair and between the lines, but we want to hit them in the face. Playing football is not necessarily about how much talent you have but how aggressive you are. You can overcome a lot by playing hard."

The Gold and Blue have already overcome a great deal after a 1-4 start, a turnaround that King fully expected.

"We were just kind of looking at each other saying, ‘we know we are 1-4, but we are a better team than that,'" said King of the dismal start. "I don't think there was any doubt. We knew that it wouldn't take much to get this thing rolling. Coach Rod always says that we don't take much out of a moral victory, but after that loss we were not that down and out. We knew what we were capable of.

"There is a lot of motivation, because we are not even a .500 football team right now," added Brian. "We are coming off a big game, but we still have to get to .500. We are obviously a better team than our record indicates, but we still have to show that. We know how things are laid out right now and we know that it is possible if we run the table. That's still a little premature, we have to take one game at a time, but we are still in the running for the Gator Bowl if we do well."

Up next for West Virginia is a University of Central Florida team that has gotten off to a tough start of their own. The Golden Knights are just 3-5 and will be looking to right the ship with a productive trip to Morgantown.

"They aren't doing as well as they had anticipated, but they are a team that feels like they should be in the Big East Conference, and they are going to come in here jacked up," said King.

"Every game we have played this year has been the same. It is not about the other team, it is about West Virginia. You have seen what we can do when we come out strong against teams like Miami and Tech, but you have also seen what happens when we come out flat against teams like Rutgers and Cincinnati."

The main obstacle in WVU's way is a talented UCF quarterback. Senior Ryan Schneider has broken every record in the Golden Knights' book and loves to put the ball in the air. Schneider is likely the best quarterback the Mountaineers will see all year, and Jeff Casteel's defense must bring their A game to slow the air assault down.

"I saw some throws that he made against some teams when I watched the film today," said King of the UCF signal-caller. "It doesn't matter who he was playing, anybody who makes the throws that he is making is legit. He has a big league arm, and what I saw on film verified everything that I have heard. Anytime you have a quarterback that can beat you with his arm, you have to be ready."

What has King licking his chops, however, is not the completions, yardage, or touchdowns that Schneider has put up, but the interceptions. Schneider has thrown for almost 1,700 yards in his six games of action, but has thrown 14 picks over that stretch as well.

"Coach Gibson told us today that in one game he was something like 26 of 33 with four picks," said King with a confident smile. "He is completing a lot of balls, but he will throw it to you as well. We just have to be ready and make the plays when they are there."

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