Weather Watch

One factor of the WVU-Marshall game that hasn't been discussed much is the weather, but that could change if long-range forecasts for the track of Tropical Storm Ernesto hold true.

While early predictions had Ernesto veering out to sea in the North Carolina/Virginia coastal regions, revised paths now show Ernesto, or at least its remnants, holding a more northerly course through the U.S. The latest storm path puts it right over Morgantown at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. Predicting the path of hurricanes and tropical storms is a dicey matter at best, of course, and with four more days until kickoff, a lot could change. However, what once were forecasts of sunny skies and temperatures around 80 could be changing to downpours and wind gusts that would have a great impact on the game.

Marshall, which will likely throw the ball more than West Virginia, would seem, at first glance, to have the greater disadvantage. Throwing a ball in heavy rain and wind is obviously a problem. However, in slick conditions, receivers, who know where they are going and thus have time to set themselves for cuts and changes of directions, can sometimes hold an advantage over defensive backs, who have to react to the moves of their opponents.

West Virginia, with its ground-hugging attack, might also be viewed to have the upper hand. However, the Mountaineer rushing corps, led by Steve Slaton and Patrick White, relies as much on reads and quick cuts as on straight ahead power. Unsure footing could negate that advantage somewhat. Also, a wet ball could affect West Virginia's read option attack, where ball handling is at a premium. The quarterback and running back often have what amounts to dual possession of the ball as the QB reads the defense and decides whether to relinquish it or not, and a wet ball could make those exchanges even more difficult to execute crisply.

Fortunately for WVU, the Mountaineers went through a couple of rainy games last year. Slaton had no trouble with ball security on a miserable day at Rutgers.

Either way, the threat of bad weather could have a dramatic effect on the game. Members of both teams will likely be eyeing the skies, not to mention the Weather Channel, on a frequent basis as the game approaches.

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