First Start Postponed

Pat White's hometown of Daphne, Ala. was damaged by Hurricane Katrina, and now another storm has marred the redshirt freshman's first scheduled start in a Mountaineer uniform.

Hurricane Wilma has pushed back the WVU-USF game, and with it White's initial starting assigment. The quiet QB wasn't concenred about playing in rainy conditions, though.

"I just hand the ball off anyway," White said. "It is no big deal. I have played in the rain, but not near-hurricane conditions."

White was going to split time with Adam Bednarik until the sophomore suffered a game-ending foot sprain - his fourth injury in seven games - with 10 minutes remaining versus Louisville.

White, who completed 5-of-11 passes for 49 yards, entered with WVU trailing 24-7 and rallied the Mountaineers to a 46-44 triple overtime win. It was the second-largest fourth-quarter comeback in school history behind a 19-point rally for a 34-33 win versus Maryland in 1992.

White, with an exceptional 131.05 passer rating, has completed 31-of-52 passes for three touchdowns and two interceptions.

"He came in at a clutch time and executed," head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "But to me he has been a starting quarterback all year. Pat has big-play ability. He can take something that is just ok and turn it into something really good."

Example: WVU trailed 24-7 and faced a fourth and 10 with nine minutes left. White scanned the field, looking to pass first. With all options covered, he escaped the rush and used his 4.34 40-yard dash speed to gain 15 yards. West Virginia scored to pull within 10, then recovered an onside kick that jumpstarted the rally.

White also gained 12 yards on a fourth and one to setup the tying score in regulation and had one touchdown nullified by a holding penalty. He also threw the game-winning two-point conversion on a rollout pass to Dorell Jalloh in overtime.

"Pat is just such a quick runner that you have to know that as a defensive player," WVU defensive back Mike Lorello said. "So he has that threat, and he can throw it hard, too."

White first showed his explosiveness on a 48-yard touchdown against Wofford. He became just the 10th West Virginia quarterback all-time to run for 100 yards in that game. But he has yet to complete more than nine passes in a contest (though also yet to throw more than 11), and has never played an entire game.

So can White be effective for four quarters, or does he rely on his fresh legs against tiring opposition?

"You still have to execute," he said, "but I might have come in with a little extra boost on. My adrenaline was flowing just as well at the end as the beginning. It might be more exciting on the first snap, but I am preparing just as well."

Bednarik did not practice Monday or Tuesday. He will be evaluated throughout the week and remains questionable for the pivotal game.

"I am in the treatment room everyday, but that has been going on since last December," said Bednarik, who recovered from off-season rotator cuff surgery. "The injuries have been a freak thing. Last game I got poked in the eye. I hoped that would be the worst one, but then I hurt my ankle.

"Against East Carolina I just happened to land on my shoulder going out of bounds. Last game my leg got caught the wrong way when I was tackled on a blitz. But I know Pat is capable of handling the starting position. He did a great job coming in last game and getting the win for us."

Bednarik will still make the trip. He is receiving treatments twice a day, the first at 6:30 a.m., and could be used in an emergency. Third-string quarterback J.R. House will not platoon with White.

"Pat is very composed," Rodriguez said. "He makes few mistakes. He'll be fine."

Most Mountaineers say there is not that big a difference in the two signal-callers.

"Both are excellent," Lorello said. "Adam is more power and not as agile; Pat is faster. They both have good arms. I don't see any difference when they throw."

The wideouts do.

"Pat was a baseball player, so when he throws the ball it comes out differently. It is a lot farther down," Jalloh said. "You have to know who is in there to adjust. Both quarterbacks throw well so you just have to know who is in the game. But it is harder to adjust to a left-hander like Pat. The ball spins the opposite way, and that's where focus comes in. You have to focus that much harder."

Said Mozes: "Pat runs a faster 40. That's about it. We just block out butts off for either one."

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