WVU - Temple Matchups

West Virginia has business left to take care of against the Owls before thinking about bowl bids, and if they don't win some of these matchups the visitors could cause some problems on WVU's march to the Big East title.


WVU wide receiver Chris Henry vs. Temple cornerback Pete McBride

WVU might be tempted to bomb away early and often to Henry, who has burned opposing defenses recently. In addition to Henry's obvious talent, however, it's the WVU running game that has helped set up those deep passes. West Virginia must remain patient, and pick their spots to go downfield.

That said, the Mountaineer coaching staff will likely need to continue their recent pattern of throwing over the top of the defense, because Temple's five defensive back alignment makes for a lot of congestion in short and intermediate passing zones. WVU will likely attack McBride, who stands just 5-10 and will thus be at a big height disadvantage against the 6-4 Henry.

WVU defensive back Adam Jones vs. Temple wide receiver Zamir Cobb

When you're 1-10, individual players often don't get much attention in the conference spotlight. However, Cobb might be the best receiver outside of Larry Fitzgerald in the league.

Adam Jones
Temple's spread offense obvioiusly affords Cobb a lot of touches, but he has made the most of his opportunities. As the "Z", or front side, receiver, Cobb has caught 71 passes for 825 yards this season.

Jones will draw coverage assingments on Cobb a good deal of the time, and will have to be quick to jump on the variety of short routes, slants and crossing patterns that are sure to come from the Temple offense. Look to see a lot of press coverage from the ultra-confident WVU corner, as Jones will likely try to disrupt Cobb's timing early on passing downs.

WVU seniors vs. Temple complacency

This game has already been marked down as a win by 99.99% of Mountaineer fans, but if the team feels the same way, then a rude shock could be in store.

Does WVU have better talent? Yes. Should they win? Yes, if they play with the intensity and concentration they have shown during the previous few weeks. But if the attitude of "it's only Temple", is prevalent, the Owls have enough playmakers to pull an upset.

West Virginia's seniors have done an excellent job of leadership this year. This is their day to celebrate, but they need to put all the bowl talk and final game excitement aside for three hours when they take the field. The final-year players on the home side of the field are capable of doing just that, but everyone needs to remember that we're talking about young men, not wizened veterans. A small crowd isn't likely to help matters, either.


Like West Virginia, Temple crowds the line to try to stop the run. The Owls do it out of a bit of a different scheme, with four down linemen and two linebackers, as opposed to WVU's 3-3 stack. However, many of the goals are the same. Overwhelm the point of attack, bring more defenders that can be blocked, and force teams to go to the air.

Watch the Owls' defensive alignments, and compare the differences in where they bring pressure and where their safeties line up and how they cover as opposed to West Virginia's. It's an interesting contrast of two different schemes trying to achieve the same result.

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One player to watch in the scheme is linebacker Rian Wallace. Wallace has 17 tackles for losses among his 138 stops, which is a testament to his aggressive play in attacking the line of scrimmage. If Wallace can be blocked or caught out of position, West Virginia has the chance to crease the Owl defense for some long runs.

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How will WVU defend the rushing of quarterback Walter Washington? Good question. A "spy" or single player assigned to the talented dual threat QB, really doesn't fit the bill. WVU's defense isn't really set up to allow a spy to be effective, and in any case Washington's sweeps and outside runs make it difficult for one player to track him all over the field.

The Mountaineers must be disciplined in their assignments, especially on the edges of the defense. Mike Lorello, Lawrence Audena, Leandre Washington, Ernest Hunter and Jason Hardee must all be mindful of Washington, and force him to run toward the sidelines rather than up and down the field.

Washington also has the ability to make people miss, so WVU must get good pursuit against the run, cover the cutback lanes, and tackle well. Of course, put all those things together and you have an outstanding defensive day. The West Virginia defense should be capable of slowing Washington down, but the talented sophomore is good enough to make some plays on his own. The challenge will be to limit those plays and avoid giving up 30 or 40 yard runs.

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