Bits and Bytes - USF

As you await the 7:30 p.m. kickoff, here's a few items of interest to while away those last hours before kickoff.

LACK OF COMPREHENSION

When are people going to realize that West Virginia, for now, is a running football team? It seems as if no matter how many yards the Mountaineers rack up on the ground, there are always complaints and comments about developing a passing attack.

Of course, Rich Rodriguez and his staff would love to improve the passing game, but it's not as if WVU is having trouble moving the ball on the ground. The Mountaineers are fifth in the nation in rushing, and have been regulars in the top ten in that category for the past three years. They average five yards per rush. What's not to like?

DEPTH CHARGE

If there's one stat that highlights the swarming, team-oriented approach of WVU's defense, it's the manner in which tackles are spread out across the depth chart.

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Game Info
WVU 9-1, 6-0
USF 6-4, 4-2
Sat 12/3/05 7:30 p.m.
Raymond James Stadium
Series: First Meeting
TV: None
BCS: WVU-11 USF-45
Line: WVU -7
Stats & Trends
A quick look down the defensive statistics shows 15 players with 20 or more tackles this year – a remarkable distribution of the 711 total tackles racked up by the Mountaineers this year. Headed by Kevin McLee's 71 stops and running down through Ernest Hunter's 20, WVU's tackle list also doesn't have any big gaps between the top tacklers and the guys at the bottom, as there was a year ago.

What's more, the tackles aren't confined to just one or two positions. Naturally, spurs, bandits and linebackers head the tackle list, but all three starting defensive linemen (Craig Wilson, Keilein Dykes and Ernest Hunter) are included in the top 15, and three more (warren Young, Pat Liebig and Johnny Dingle) are all in double figures.

This stat might point out that the Mountaineers don't have a dominant defensive presence as they did a year ago, but it also shows that every WVU defender that hits the field is making a contribution to the team. With 22 defenders (that's a full two units) having at least ten tackles this year, it's clear to see that the strength of the Mountaineer defense is in its depth.

KILLING TREES

South Florida has a whopping 65-page media release for the West Virginia game. I guess that's one way to get around the limit placed on media guides by the NCAA – just cram more stuff into the weekly releases. But do we really need to see Jim Leavitt's comments from July 30 of this year? Or from every media luncheon since? Those quotes might be just a bit stale.

DOUBLING UP

In addition to being Senior Day, this game is also USF's Homecoming, as it was originally scheduled for Oct. 22. The Bulls are 6-2 on Homecoming, but no doubt haven't had many tougher tests than the Mountaineers will pose.

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USF's record of never having trailed at home is an impressive one – a feat that no other team in the nation has equaled this year. Although the Bulls' home schedule wasn't exactly murderer's row, it was solid enough to make that achievement to date.

In yet another schedule oddity, the Bulls faced seven of their 11 2005 foes for the first time in school history. Penn State, Florida A&M, Central Florida, Miami, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia were all first time opponents in USF history.

LATE IN THE DAY

The USF game will be only the second regular season game the Mountaineers have played in December. Way back in 1939, WVU dropped a 13-0 home decision to George Washington on Dec. 2. Somehow, I don't think a hurricane played a part in that schedule date.

SENIORITIS

West Virginia will experience its third senior day of the 2005 season on the trip to South Florida. In addition to its own introductions prior to the Pitt game, WVU also visited Cincinnati for the Bearcats' final home game this year.

STAT OF THE MILLENIUM

West Virginia has 3771 yards of total offense this year. Of that, Pat White and Steve Slaton have combined to account for 2242 yards of that total. That's 59.4% of the Mountaineer offense from two players – two freshmen players.

Need more? The pair has scored 20 of West Virginia's 41 touchdowns. They also, in an eerie display of consistency, have rushed for 59.4% of the Mountaineers ground total.


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