A pair of reliable stalwarts led WVU's 45-13 rout of visiting UConn on Wednesday.
On offense, redshirt freshman Pat White earns the nod for his triple-threat performance against the Huskies. Through the air, White was a modest 7-16 for 106 yards and one touchdown, but he backed that up with 63 rushing yards on just seven carries and two nifty scores in the frist half to put WVU on the path to a blowout win.
One one of the two touchdowns, White turned a well-covered double screen pass into his own highlight reel, zooming past two Husky defenders and into the end zone on a play that was "dead", according to head coach Rich Rodriguez.
The third arm of White's play was his blocking - specifically, a huge smackdown on a Steve Slaton run in the first half. On the play, Slaton reversed his field on a sweep and circled back toward the Mountaineer bench. He was pursued by a UConn defender, but White blew him up with a block that allowed Slaton to turn a sure loss into a short gain.
As a QB, White could have easily gotten out of the way of the play to avoid injury, but he instead sacrificed his body for his teammate.
Defensively, Mike Lorello is the pick after turning in another quietly outstanding performance.
Lorello is so good, and so consistent, that we often overlook his excellent contributions to the WVU defense, but we hope to make some amends for that with this selection.
One of the leaders of the defense, the Ohio native racked up eight tackles. including one for a loss of four yards, and forced a fumble as the WVU defense throttled the Connecticut attack. Lorello helped hold the visitors to a measly 12 yards rushing (0.3 yards per carry), and just 129 yards overall. The dominating performance helped set the WVU offense up in excellent field position throughout the day.
Linebacker Jeff Noechel had his second consecutive excellent performance agains UConn. The West Virginia was credited with just two tackles on the day, but both came behind the line of scrimmage for 12 yards in losses. Included was a ten-yard sack, one of seven that WVU recorded on the evening. Noechel set the tone early with a big hit on UConn quarterback Dennis Brown as he released an option pitch.
Rich Rodriguez and Calvin Magee earn kudos for their excellent setups on offense. Facing a line-crowding UConn defense, the offensive braintrust ran several wide runs, including options and reverses, which served to get the Huskies spread out up front. They then countered with some quick handoffs inside to Owen Schmitt, who responded with 32 yards and a touchdown on four carries.
Brandon Myles, who quietly leads the team in receiving, again made the most of his opportunities by catching three passes for 77 yards and a score. Myles reached paydirt on a wide receiver screen, which is quickly becoming his signature play, by cutting behind some outstanding blocking from the WVU offensive line and racing untouched into the end zone from 20 yards out.