Plighting Troth: Marriage of ECU and Big QBs

Watch for Paul Troth, the latest in a line of larger-then-life, cannon-armed East Carolina quarterbacks, warn WVU's coaches.

Troth, like predecessors Marcus Crandall and David Garrard, is a physical specimen. The sophomore is 6-5, 233 pounds and can wing it.

"Boy-oh-boy he has an arm," WVU co-defensive coordinator Todd Graham said. "He can throw it a ton. His problem is his decisions. Like a young kid he tries to make a play sometimes."

Troth has seven interceptions against three scores, but is getting better by the game, Rodriguez said.

"It's hard for a young quarterback to know that sometimes he has to eat it, to take a sack," Rodriguez said. "But he is big-time. Just looking at him I would say he will play in the NFL. He has an NFL-caliber arm. ECU was lucky to get him. I remember watching him coming out of high school in North Carolina when I was at Clemson."

The other major problem WVU will face is the Pirates' defensive shuffle. The secondary moves constantly and the linebackers will shift right before the snap.

"Whatever they are in, they are not in," Mountaineer quarterback Rasheed Marshall said. "We just have to be aware of it and I have to know who is in the game and what is going on at all times."

ECU, which is 1-2, turned the ball over nine times in its opening losses to ACC doormats Duke and Wake Forest. It did not turn it over in a 24-20 win over Tulane.

"We think they fixed that," Rodriguez said. "Turnovers will probably be the single biggest thing in this game.

"This will be a nice challenge for us," Rodriguez added. "Steve Logan has won a lot of games there and a lot of games against good Big East teams on the road. We think they should be 3-0."

WVU will also need to be aware of the trick play, something ECU has utilized with much success under Logan, nicknamed "The Gambler." The Pirates have scored on a halfback pass and a reverse against WVU in the last five years. "We've worked on that for 10 minutes in practice the last few weeks," Rodriguez said. "It's just discipline."

Rodriguez also mentioned ECU fullback Art Brown as being very comparable to Cobourne.

"He runs hard, breaks tackles," Rodriguez said. We will need to wrap."

WVU will also need to wrap on special teams. The big plays have been a result of a lack thereof.

The Mountaineers put major emphasis on special teams during the off-week and could play more field position than big play in the punting game, special teams coach Bill Stewart said.

"We might pooch one here, or put one out-of-bounds or kick it high," Stewart said, "because these guys flat-out scare me to death. I am afraid they will take one to the house."

ECU's punt and kick return numbers are average. However, Logan has been known to run reverses and other trickery off them.

Rodriguez noted that Todd James and Mark Fazzolari will punt. James will likely be used when the field is longer.

Musket Blasts

*Morgantown band Junior Pezz is the feature band for the Tailgate Concert from 10-11:30 a.m. outside the Northeast (hospital) corner of the stadium. Also, as fans exit the stadium they will receiver a children's fingerprint ID kit from the WVU Forensic ID program.

The WVU Forensics program has been publicized in Newsweek, USA Today and Rolling Stone within the last three weeks.

*Avon Cobourne goes for his third 100-yard game in four tries. He has never had a 100-yard rushing effort versus the Pirates. He will break WVU's all-time school record in carries (787) with his fourth tote Saturday.

"They stack, like, nine guys in there. It's everybody," Cobourne, 254 rushing yards short of Amos Zereoue's school-record, said. "If we have to pass, we will. Whatever it takes to win the game."

*Michael Page will start at slot receiver in place of A.J. Nastasi, who will be likely be out through the Maryland game. WVU is hoping he can return in time for the Big East opener Oct. 12 at Rutgers. Clarksburg, W.Va. native George Shehl, a reserve redshirt freshman defensive back, will hold.

*Anthony Mims could see action against East Carolina. He has "practiced more last week than maybe since he has been here," Rodriguez said.

*West Virginia is the only Big East program ECU has played and not defeated on the road. WVU is 11-2 all-time against the Pirates and 8-0 at home. Carolina has not faced Boston College or Rutgers.

*The last time the teams met was in Don Nehlen's final home game as WVU's head coach. The former mentor has always respected ECU, and Steve Logan, the Pirate head coach in his 11th season, often said he respected Nehlen and the WVU program.

The contests have historically been close. West Virginia won the first eight meetings before Carolina took a 1995 road game -- in which the Blue and Gold sported the blue pants -- 23-20. WVU held ECU to three points in 1996 before the Pirates drove 80 yards on their final possession to make it 10-9. Logan went for two, and John Hadley's blitz up the middle forced ECU signalcaller Marcus Crandall to throw the two-point conversion pass just beyond the receivers hands along the sideline. Mike Logan defended.

In the 1997 home game, a 24-17 Mountaineer win, saw ECU throw a halfback pass to score before Nate Terry returned a kickoff 100 yards for the final tally.

Before the game Nehlen said WVU had "really beat up on ECU last time. I think we blew them out by a whole point."

In 1999 ECU won 30-23 off a late score, but dominated much of the play, as WVU did in a 42-24 home win in 2000.

*WVU is 22-8 after open dates since the breaks were made by the NCAA in 1983. Eighteen of those were at Mountaineer Field, where West Virginia is 14-4 after off-weeks.

*WVU is 20-10 all-time against schools from North Carolina.

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