Bits and Bytes: WVU - Maryland

It's a short week, so just like the coaching staff and team, we've had to jam a lot of material in front of you in a short amount of time. Here's the last few items to take you up to kickoff.

LONG DISTANCE QUIZ

In its first two games, WVU has already recorded 13 plays of 20 yards or longer. Eight of those came from scrimmage, four on kick returns, and one on an interception return. How many of those plays involved Steve Slaton? Answer below.

KIRLAV CONGRATS

Defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich has been selected as one of the 2006 inductees into the Salem Athletic Hall of Fame. Kirelawich was a team captain and standout defensive lineman at then- Salem College in the last 1960s, helping the Tigers to an 8-1 record and an NAIA Top 20 ranking his senior season. His 89-yard interception return still stands as a school record. Kirelawich graduated from Salem in 1969.

Unfortunately, Kirelawich will likely miss the induction ceremonies, as he will be on WVU's road trip to Mississippi State on the weekend of Oct. 6-8, when the honoraries will take place.

REVERSE HELP

A common perception was that Maryland was helped greatly by the defection of Scott McBrien from the Mountaineer program – that his knowledge of WVU's plays and signals gave the Terps a huge advantage during their four game win streak over West Virginia during his playing time. While we would say that Maryland's awesome offensive line had a lot more to do with those wins, it's tough to argue that the Terps didn't get some sort of advantage, even if it was just a psychological one, due to McBrien's presence.

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Game Info
WVU 2-0, 0-0
UM 2-0, 0-0
Thu 9-14-06 7:45 pm
Milan Puskar Stadium
Series: 21-21-2
TV: ESPN
Sagarin: WVU-15 UM-42
Line: WVU -14.5
Stats & Trends
The tables may have turned, although in a slightly different manner, for this year's contest. Middle Tennessee State head coach Rick Stockstill, whose team battled Maryland well before losing 24-10 last week, is a former coaching compadre of WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez. The two coaches were assistants at Clemson during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Given that background, it's not hard to imagine Coach Rod burning up the phone lines to Murfreesboro this week to get a different perspective on what worked and what didn't for the Blue Raiders against the Terps.

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

West Virginia is a perfect 8-0 in home night games under Rich Rodriguez. While many stats such as this are the result of happenstance or coincidence, there does seem to be a bit of a different feeling when the Mountaineers take the home turf under the lights. Last year's full-moon comeback against Louisville only served to strengthen the notion that WVU gets a little extra boos when kickoff occurs around sundown.

Another Mountaineer win would be the perfect way to break the current 21-21-2 tie in the all-time series between the two schools.

FEAR OF REJECTION

Maryland has gone 75 games without having a punt blocked – the second-longest currently active streak in college football. The Terps have not had one blocked since November 13, 1999 against Florida State.

The team with the longest streak? Old friend Georgia, which last had a punt blocked on September 25, 1999 against Central Florida. We are sure that WVU would gladly trade a continuation of the streak in return for the same game results it had against the Terps and Bulldogs last year.

TOPS IN "TOP"

Time of possession has always been something of a misleading statistic, but there are times (pardon the pun) when it does yield an interesting perspective. With new clock rules shortening the length and number of plays being run per game, holding on to the ball could be even more important than in previous years, even if the team in possession is doing nothing more than watching the clock run prior to the first snap of the series.

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Tailgating
For the WVU – Maryland game, a couple of items leap out. West Virginia has possessed the ball an average of five more minutes per contents than its foes. That's not surprising, considering the Mountaineers' ground-hugging attack (110 runs out of 148 total plays). The shock comes on the Terp side, where UM has held the ball an average of five minutes less than its opponents.

Of course, scoring, not time of possession, is the name of the game, and Maryland has used its TOP efficiently enough to win its first two contests. Big scoring plays can also result in low TOP numbers, but that doesn't appear to be the case here, either. The Terps are averaging a solid 5.9 yards per play, but that pales in comparison to WVU's 7.3. And although Friedgen's fellows aren't as ground-based at WVU, their number of rushing attempts (74) is still more than twice their passing attempts (35).

It might be difficult to draw definitive conclusions from just two games' worth of data, but it does appear as if Maryland's offense is still not as explosive as what it was just a couple of short years ago. That's one of the reasons Friedgen took over the playcalling duties for himself – but so far, the results probably aren't as good as what he was hoping for. One way in which his squad could hold on to the ball for longer stretches would be by increasing its third-down conversion rate. The Terps are just 5-18 (28%) in that department this year.

QUIZ ANSWER

Just one of WVU's 20+ yarders to date has been courtesy of Slaton. Steve dashed 49 yards for a touchdown against Eastern Washington to mark his sole appearance in the 20+ club. That play, WVU's longest of the season, is also the only scoring play to occur from more than 20 yards out.


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