There has been some grumbling from Mountaineer fans about West Virginia's pass defense against Marshall. And, as usual, there have been some comments regarding West Virginia's perceived lack of a passing attack. However, a look at the numbers, along with some analysis, reveals that those perceptions are way off base.
Defensively, West Virginia allowed 12 completions in 22 attempts for 178 yards and one touchdown. While those are respectable numbers, they certainly don't paint the picture of a defense being carved up like a Christmas turkey. Marshall's longest completion went for just 26 yards, and while the Herd was able to complete a handful of intermediate range passes against the Mountaineers, they were singularly unable to get the big downfield strikes they desperately needed to even make a game of it. If WVU can post similar numbers against all of its foes this year, the coaching staff will be very happy.
|WVU 1-0, 0-0
EWU 0-1, 0-0
|Sat 9-8-06 1:00 pm|
|Milan Puskar Stadium|
|Series: First Meeting|
|Sagarin: WVU-19 EWU-122|
|Line: No Line|
|Stats & Trends|
I'm the first to admit that numbers often don't tell the whole story, but I don't think there's any way to look at this first game and declare West Virginia's pass defense a shambles, or White the same passer that he was a year ago.
Rich Rodriguez's 36-14 record from 2002-05 is the best such four-year span by a single coach in school history. That's a winning percentage of 72%.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
One place where Eastern Washington hopes to gain an advantage against WVU is in the kick return game. The Eagles have returned 10 kickoffs for touchdowns in the past nine years, and have added nine punt returns for scores in the past eight seasons. The latest of those came against Oregon State, when return specialist Tony Davis returned a fourth-quarter punt 60 yards for a score.
|EWU Message Board|
|EWU Official Site|
Eastern Washington is 8-17 all-time against 1-A opponents. Included in that total are wins over Connecticut (35-17 in 2001) and Idaho (8-5 in 2003). All but three of EWU's 25 games against the big boys have been played on the road. Cal State-Long Beach traveled to Eastern Washington for the Eagles' first-ever matchup with a D1A foe, and Idaho has twice filled the visitor's role.
DID WE MISS SOMETHING?
The Eastern Washington media release for the WVU game lists DePauw as Rich Rodriguez' alma mater.
PILING IT ON
Steve Slaton's 203 yards against Marshall set a new standard for West Virginia backs. Coupled with his Sugar Bowl-record 204 yards against Georgia, Slaton is the only back to rush for 200 yards in consecutive games in school history.
His combined total of 407 yards is only third-best in school history, however, Avon Cobourne put up consecutive games of 193 and 260 yards in 2005 (453 total), while Amos Zereoue tallied 417 in 1998 with games of 189 and 228.
Slaton is theoretically within reach of the three game mark of 576, which is also held by Cobourne. However, given the wishes of head coach Rich Rodriguez to limit his carries this week, he might have to rip off a couple of long runs to approach the 170 yards he needs to break the mark.