WVU - UConn Game Preview

The Mountaineers travel to Connecticut for only the second time in school history looking to shut down a formidable Husky running attack.






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Series: 2-0-0
Fri 10/20 8:00 p.m.
Hartford, Connecticut

Rentschler Field
Record: 6-0
USA/Coaches: 4th
Last Game
Syracuse W 41-17

Click for Hartford, Connecticut Forecast
Record: 3-3
USA/Coaches: NR
Last Game
Army W 21-7
Rosters/ Bios
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Season Stats
2006 Schedule
First Meeting: 2004
Last Meeting: 2005
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:

None to date

Injuries:

WVU: Johnny Dingle - Out (Ankle), Ridwan Malik - Questionable (Quadriceps), Pat Liebig - Questionable (Ankle)

UConn: Donald Thomas - Probable (Hand), Dan Murray - Probable (Ankle), Allan Barnes - Probable (Ankle), D.J Hernandez - Probable (Wrist), Ellis Gaulden - Probable (Knee), Jason Ward - Probable (Foot), William Beatty - Out (Leg), Keith Gray - Out (Shoulder), Seth Fogarty -Out (Leg)

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. UConn defense

The Connecticut defense has been led this season by a solid trio of linebackers. Leading the team in tackles is Danny Lansanah (6-1, 238), with 48 stops, four tackles for loss and two interceptions. Ryan Henegan (6-1, 234) is second on the team with 41 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for a loss and a sack to boot. Rounding out this group is Donta Moore

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Game Info
WVU 5-0, 0-0
UConn 3-3, 0-1
Fri 10/20 8:00 p.m.
Rentschler Field
Series: WVU 2-0
TV: ESPN
BCS: WVU-5th Conn-69th
Harris Poll WVU 4th - Conn NR
Line: WVU -21.5
(6-0, 213). Moore is fourth on the team in tackles with 34. Seven and a half of those are for a loss, which leads the team. It will be important for the WVU offensive line to obtain solid blocks on the second level of Husky defenders to spring the WVU running backs for big gains.

The Husky defensive line has also been active through the first half of the season. The four down lineman have combined for an impressive 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Starting defensive ends Dan Davis (6-3, 265) and Cody Brown (6-2, 233) own 12 of those 20 stops behind the line and have teamed to record 48 tackles overall. Defensive tackles Ray Blagman (6-2, 327) and Rhema Fuller (6-3, 285) have a combined 39 stops on the season along with four sacks. Fuller, a Florida native, earned second-team All-BIG EAST accolades in 2005.

The UConn defensive backfield has been lead by second year player Darius Butler (5-11, 183). Bulter, the Huskies' best cover corner, has followed an impressive freshman season with 23 tackles and a team leading four interceptions this season. The Florida native also has a team best five pass breakups.

Joining Butler as the corner is Tyvon Branch (6-0, 199). Branch, who was named Gatorade New York State Track Athlete of the Year as a high school senior, has 36 stops through six games.

Manning the safety positions will be M.J. Estep (6-1, 207) and Dahna Deleston (6-0, 198). The duo has combined for 48 tackles, three of them for losses. Look for Allan Barnes (6-0, 199) to also see some action at safety. Barnes, named one of four team captains for the 2006 season, has registered two tackles in limited action.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 5th in total offense (466.00 yds/game), 1st in rushing offense (328.33 yds/game) and 108th in passing offense (137.67 yds/game).

UConn is ranked 52nd in total defense (384.83 yds/game), 105th in rushing defense (177.17 yds/game) and 16th in passing efficiency defense (101.64 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. UConn offense

The Connecticut offense is lead by fifth year senior signal-caller Matt Bonislawski (6-4, 222). Bonislawski, who has taken over the reins after D.J. Hernandez started the first three games of the season, has completed only 45.9% of his passes (45-98). The Pennsylvania native has thrown for 516 yards, including three touchdowns and one interception, in three starts.

Leading the UConn ground game has been Terry Caulley (5-7, 193). Caulley, who is one of four team captains, has rushed for a solid 98 yards per game, gaining 588 yards on 99 attempts. The senior has also hauled in 10 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. As a freshman and sophomore Caulley was one of the top backs in the nation until a knee injury sidelined for most of the 2003 season and all of the 2004 season.

Taking over the starting wide receiver spots are a pair of talented true freshman, Brad Kanuch (6-0, 182) and Terence Jeffers (6-1, 203). The duo has combined for 11 receptions and 209 yards this season. Leading the Huskies in receiving is Larry Taylor (5-6, 165). The all-purpose Taylor has hauled in 19 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown this season.

When the Huskies go with two wideouts, look for starting tight end Steve Rouse (6-4, 255) to enter the game. Rouse has nine receptions for 109 yards at the midway point of the season.

The Husky offensive line have formed into a solid unit this season, allowing the UConn offense to average 209 yards rushing, good for ninth in the country. The ground game has been successful even though the offensive line has been hit with the injury bug. Two experienced starters, William Beatty (6-6, 297) and Keith Gray (6-3, 283) have been sidelined over the past few weeks with injuries.

Even with the loss of Beatty and Gray the Huskies have one of the biggest offeensive lines that the Mountaineers will face and possibly the biggest pair of tackles in football. Freshman Dan Ryan (6-8, 297) and freshman Mike Hicks (6-7, 338) man the tackle positions and will give the WVU defensive front fits as they try and find their way around the behemoth lineman.

Starting on the interior of the line will be center Alex LaMagdelaine (6-3, 299), Matt Applebaum (6-5, 300) and Immanuel Hutcherson (6-1, 274). Applebaum and Hutcherson each have 17 starts under their belt while LaMagdelaine will be making the fifth start of his young career.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 23rd in total defense (281.67 yds/game), 18th in rushing defense (88.33 yds/game) and 10th in passing efficiency defense (99.12).

UConn is ranked 52nd in total offense (357.33 yds/game), 9th in rushing offense (209.17 yds/game) and 106th in passing offense (148.17 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. UConn special teams

The bright spot so far this season for the Huskies' special teams have been junior returnman Larry Taylor (5-6,165). The Florida native has averaged 27.2 yards per kick return and 14.5 yards per punt return, with one reaching paydirt.

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Coming into the 2006 season Taylor's career kick return average was an impressive 32.7 yards, making him a threat no matter what the opposition.

Joining Taylor on kickoff returns will be Donald Brown (5-10, 209). Brown, a redshirt freshman, has gained 210 yards on nine returns, an average of 23.3 yards.

Handling the punting duties for UConn will be Chris Pavasaris (6-2, 215). The senior has averaged 40.9 yards per punt this season on 35 attempts. Pavasaris has put 10 of his punts inside the 20-yard line while 13 others have resulted in a fair catch or touchback. The one-time walk-on has had one punt blocked this season.

While the punter has held his own, the field goal kicking for the Huskies has been abysmal. Matt Nuzie (5-11, 197) started the season as the kicker but after a 2-5 start the job was handed over to Griag Vicidomino (6-2, 201) during the South Florida game. Unfortunately for special teams coach Lyndon Johnson, the results weren't much better after the switch. The senior has connected on only one of four attempts, missing from 42, 52 and 26 yards. Look for Nuzie to get another shot at the job against West Virginia, although Tony Ciaravino could also see action.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 3rd in net punting (41.86 yds/punt), 14th in kick returns (25.25 yds/return) and 42nd in punt returns (9.92 yds/return).

UConn is ranked 102nd in net punting (32.08 yds/punt), 17th in kick returns (18.31 yds/return) and 15th in punt returns (14.46 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Steve Slaton

On Defense: James Ingram

Totally Useless Facts:

  • Junior punter Chris Pavasaris was nominated by the University as a candidate for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships.

  • Students at the University of Connecticut have the opportunity to compete in 23 NCAA sports (10 men's, 13 women's sports)

  • The first Huskie to play in the National Football League was Ching Hammill who played for Providence Steam Rollers in 1925.

  • In 1899 Storrs Agricultural College changed its name to Connecticut Agricultural College. Their athletic teams were known as the "Aggies". The final name change appeared in 1935 when the school was renamed the University of Connecticut.

  • UConn is 7-2 against the spread in its last nine home games.

  • WVU is 17-5 against the spread in its last 22 night games.

  • Former WVU assistant coach Dave McMichael serves as the tight ends coach for the Huskies.

Prediction:

I'm sure everyone has that special day during the year that they look forward to, whether it be a favorite holiday or the last day of school, but for me that day is October 20th. You may or may not remember that the infamous film of Bigfoot was taken by Patterson and Gimlin on October 20th, 1967 or that a plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd crashed in Mississippi, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines on October 20th, 1977 or that the Mountaineers are 9-2 all-time on this date, having lost to Richmond in 1973 and Dartmouth in 1917.

It was also the date when a fired up Mountaineer team came back from a 20-3 halftime deficit to beat Doug Flutie and the fourth-ranked Boston College Eagles in 1984.

What does this have to do with Connecticut? Nothing, but I guarantee that the Mountaineers will not lose on my birthday.

WVU - 45 UConn - 14


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