Unexpected Performance

West Virginia's expected weak link was the only offensive unit to receive universal praise from players and coaches.

With the line was loaded and the backfield stacked, it was WVU's tandem quarterback play that propelled the turnover-infested offense past Syracuse, 15-7, in a key Big East and season opener on Sunday.

Adam Bednarik and Pat White led WVU inside the Syracuse 20-yard-line four times before fumbles halted the drives. The five total turnovers -- the team's most since an upset home loss to Cincinnati in 2003 -- kept WVU from scoring an offensive touchdown despite tallying 339 yards of total offense.

"Adam Bednarik and Pat White, you'd never know it was their first collegiate game," said running back Jason Colson, whose career-high three fumbles stopped promising drives. "They had a lot of confidence. They were on the sidelines telling me not to worry and pumping me up like veteran quarterbacks."

Bednarik completed 14 of 21 passes for 104 yards and rushed for a game-high 72 yards. The sophomore quarterback, expected to be the best Mountaineer passer, also showcased his dogged running style.

"I surprised some people with my running ability," Bednarik said. "But there are a lot of things after watching film that I wish I could have done better."

Yet even Bednarik's mistakes were good. The righthander threw one interception on third and long that essentially served as a solid punt, pinning Syracuse inside its 20-yard-line.

Adam Bednarik
Pat White, considered the runner of the two quarterbacks, actually threw the ball more accurately while being held to 20 rushing yards. The redshirt freshman hit the game's longest pass, a 39-yard completion to Brandon Myles.

Colson fumbles stopped two of White's five drives, both inside the Syracuse red zone. "We are not known to give the ball up like that," Bednarik said. "The coaches addressed it and said the turnovers really hurt us. That will change and we will have better ball security from now on."

Bednarik started 10 drives and also punted twice out of WVU's quick-kick formation. Both punts landed inside the Syracuse 20-yard-line. He is coming off shoulder surgery that kept him out of spring drills.

"You have to view that fourth down play with an aggressive mentality," head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We got that through to Adam. When it's fourth down it's still our ball, and we can be aggressive. We'll both run and kick out of that, and have some plays set up to try and get the first down."

White is in just his second season on the team. If the lefthander starts, he would be WVU's youngest starting quarterback since Heisman Trophy finalist Major Harris took his first snaps at the end of the 1987 season. Bednarik played the first series against Syracuse.

We have all come a long way since day one," Bednarik said. "We are starting to get comfortable with each other and with the offense."

West Virginia ran its spread, no-huddle attack slower than usual because of the duo's inexperience. It is expected to up the tempo in its Sept. 10 home opener versus Division I-AA Wofford at 6:00 p.m. Bednarik and White are still listed as co-starters for the game.

"You have to be an unselfish guy to handle this role," Rodriguez said. "Both of them are. I'd rather have too many bullets than not enough. Both are weapons."

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