Things Of That Nature - Pitt Edition

West Virginia's head coach is concerned about finding enough players to fill the plane to Syracuse after Saturday's satisfying, yet rugged, 52-31 blowout of the Pitt Panthers.

Of the many players who hobbled off the field on Saturday night, Pat Liebig is the greatest cause for concern. The freshman defensive lineman, filling in for the injured Fred Blueford, may have torn knee ligaments. He will have an MRI on Sunday evening, but he could join Blueford on the sidelines for the remainder of the season.

"That how it goes," Rich Rodriguez noted. "Last year we didn't get anyone hurt, but this year it seems like one evey week.

"Our defensive line is playing too many snaps as it is. Jason Hardee, who played some, will have to play more, and we have to get Warren Young toned up and ready to go. We're still looking for some answers at this point."

Offensive lineman Dan Mozes strained a hip and back muscle, but he is expected to be ok in a few days. Travis Garvin, who had injured ribs and strained muscles, is likewise expected to be ok for the trip to Syracuse.

Not as optimistic is the outlook on tight end Josh Bailey, who dislocated a shoulder. Although the injury was reduced quickly, he will be questionable for the Orangemen. This is not the first problem Bailey has experienced with the shoulder.

Finally, spur Leandre Washington also sustained a hip injury, and will be day to day, but it is hoped he will be ready to play by the weekend as well.


Of all the big plays in the game, Rodriguez felt that John Pennignton's first half touchdown grab provided his team with the biggest lift.

"His catch was the biggest, just from the reaction he got on the sidelines. That's due to the amount of respect he has, and the way he works every day in practice. That gave us a boost coming in at halftime."

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Rodriguez also discussed the modifications made at halftime on the defensive side of the ball.

"Coach Casteel put in a few more pressure, and some more five man pressures. We just did a better job of getting in Rutherford's face. We didn't change a whole lot of coverages - occasionally we rolled up one side to try to get on some of the underneath stuff. I though we broke on the ball better in the second half and made more plays while the ball was in the air."

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The coaching staff had a short night of rest. They departed the Puskar Center well after midnight, but were up and meeting with recruits for breakfast at seven a.m. Sunday morning.

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Rodriguez views the Syracuse game as another challenge, both in terms of the venue and in the importance of the game.

"We know Syracuse is a tough place to play. It's ome of the toughest in the country, and we haven't had a whole lot of success there. Syracuse has a whole lot of talented players, and there's a whole lot at stake in this game. We tell our young men, 'the more you win, the more there is at stake'. This game is bigger now because we won the Pitt game."

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The play of Lawrence Audena as he filled in for the injured Washington has positioned him for a shot at more playing time.

"He played more because Leandre was hurt," Rodriguez noted. "His performance was real pleasing. That's the most extensive action he's gotten. He made a couple of mistakes, but he also made a couple of nice plays. He and Leandre will compete more for playing time this week in practice. He has moved into a competitive role for playing time."

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Next Saturday's Syracuse game will be shown at noon on ESPN2.

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Rodriguez on the AP Poll, where WVU is ranked #25: "It's good to be in polls and get the recognition, but I don't put much in that. We'll wait and see where we are in a couple of weeks."

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Rodriguez also continues to be pleased with the job his seniors have done in rallying the Mountaineers from their 1-4 start.

"The seniors have done a good job leadership-wise in turning the season around. A lot of ours are doing that, and are having their best year. That's what you want, for them to have their best seasons on the field and in leadership roles. Grant Wiley is having a great year. Quincy Wilson is having a great year. Lance Frazier is making more plays than he ever has, and Brian King is having a good year."

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Rodriguez is not yet ready to proclaim the passing game equal to that of the running game, but he is trying to better balance the offense.

"I'm still not as comfortable throwing the ball as running it, but I kept telling myself to throw the ball some more on first down and second down. I am getting more confident in the passing game, and that's something we have to continue to do, get better balance."

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