Final Notre Dame Game Notes

Late breaking developments may have a big effect on Saturday's West Virginia - Notre Dame football game.

MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS

Might the Mountaineers use the absence of Cooper Rego as a rallying point? It's possible, and, we daresay, almost necessary. This team has seemed somewhat lifeless the past couple of weeks, and needs a spark.

We think this game is the last chance WVU has to right the ship and make any sort of challenge for postseason play. Whatever the source, the Mountaineers need something to add a little zest to their play - simply put, they need to have some fun.

JUST FOR KICKS

Not many coaches would change punters when the starter is averaging 42.4 yards per kick, but West Virginia's anemic punt coverage dictates some sort of change.

While Mark Fazzolari has been a bit inconsistent on the height and direction of his kicks, he has not had any blocked this year. Will the tradeoff of (hopefully) better kicks and fewer return yards be offset by possible problems in getting kicks off? James will likely face a heavy rush on his first couple of kicks - and remember that these will be his first punts as a collegian.

WRONG-WAY PASSES

No matter who is at quarterback on Saturday, WVU simply must cut down on interceptions. Opponents are averaging two picks per game against the Mountaineers, which is much too high considering the number of short passes West Virginia quarterbacks have thrown this year.

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Of course the receiving corps can help, as we've noted before, by going after the ball more aggressively, especially on the few deep passes that WVU throws. In the end, however, WVU can't afford more than one, or at the most, two turnovers against Notre Dame.

IT'S ALWAYS DARKEST...

...before the dawn. An old phrase, true, but perhaps fitting here. In all three of WVU's previous contests with the Irish, the Mountaineers had chances to win, but failed to come through.

This time, conventional wisdom (not to mention the point spread) says the Notre Dame is a heavy favorite. Might there be some sort of celestial balancing act ready to play itself out?

We still firmly believe WVU had the better team on the field in 1997. Usually the luck, and the ghosts, and everything else outside the normal three dimensions favors Notre Dame on their home field, but somehow we have the strange feeling that the Mountaineers might come through with a strong effort.


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