Bits & Bytes: WVU - USF

It's a nighttime snack for Mountaineer fans as we present our final itmes of information before Friday night's WVU-USF contest






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Series: Tied 1-1
Fri 9/28 8:00 PM
Tampa, Fla.

Raymond James Stadium
Record: 4-0
USA/Coaches: 5th
Last Game
ECU W 48-7

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast
Record: 3-0
USA/Coaches: 18th
Last Game
UNC W 37-10
Rosters/ Bios
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2007 Schedule
First Meeting: 2005
Last Meeting: 2006
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CENTURY MARK

Head coach Rich Rodriguez is gunning for his 100th victory as a head football coach in the game against the Bulls. Fifty-four of his 99 wins have come at West Virginia.

KEEPAWAY

Neither Patrick White nor Matt Groethe have thrown an interception this year. Combined, the pair have attempted 165 passes without a pick. Which obviously leads to the question, ‘Which QB will throw the first?'

Both QBs are very accurate, so that appears to be a tossup. White throws more of the safer routes, so he would seem to have an edge there, as his routes are usually limited to screens, wheel routes and slants. However, USF knows this, so don't be surprised to see the Bull secondary try to jump one of those – especially the screens. And if that happens, WVU counters with a wheel route to catch the USF secondary in over-aggressive mode. It promises to be an interesting matchup.

FAMILY TREE

USF redshirt-freshman receiver Carlton Mitchell has a family tree littered with athletic ties. First, and most unusually, Mitchell's mother, Angela, is the cut "man" for professional boxer Antonio Tarver. Tarver and Carlton have been close friends since the Bull wide receiver was 12. He is also close friends with Tarver's son, Antonio Jr., who is a freshman point guard at Daytona Beach Community College.

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Game Info
WVU 4-0, 0-0
USF 3-0, 0-0
Fri 9/28 8:00 PM
Raymond James Stadium
Series: Even 1-1
TV: ESPN2
Rank: WVU 5th - USF 18th
Line: WVU -7
Mitchell's father's side is just as impressive. His father, Carl, is 6 feet 8 and played pro basketball in Europe for 12 years, while half-brother Carl Jr., is 6-10 and plays professionally in the Dominican Republic.

QUICK TO THE TOP

USF has been a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision since 2000, its transition year, and appeared in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 Polls for the first time on Sept. 24, 2007. That meant that it took USF just 124 weeks before appearing in a Top 25 – the second fastest pace to a national ranking in the history of the Coaches Poll, only trailing Boise State, which reached the polls in 114 weeks. Of all the notes supporting USF's rise as a program, this may be the most impressive.

MVP

In my most recent appearance on The NFL Network's College Football Now show (sorry for the shameless plug, but being on TV is a blast), I was asked who I thought WVU's MVP was. And that's a tough call. Steve Slaton and Patrick White are difficult enough to separate, and you could even make a case for Darius Reynaud, who has turned the extended handoff of the bubble screen into a passing attack all on his own.

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In the end, however, I went with White. Rodriguez' analogy of the QB in his system functioning like a point guard that can shoot the three illustrates perfectly the importance of the position in the spread offense. That's no knock against Slaton, who racks up numbers each week with defenses stacked against him, and who shares the spotlight without a thought for his own image. (Those attributes also make it tough to pick against him – I can't imaging a better attitude for a star player.) However, in the end, the multiple skills of White make him my choice. But only by the narrowest of margins.

And now that I'm thinking about it again, I am having second thoughts. It's that close in my mind. The duo has a synergy that I haven't seen anywhere else in the college football world, and that ends up being their greatest strength. Each is a great player on his own, but together they are greater than the sum of their talents. So maybe I should have answered, "Patrick Slaton".

OPPORTUNE MOMENT

If South Florida's linebackers crash aggressively into running lanes and flow quickly to jam things up for Steve Slaton, as they have done the past two seasons, might this be the week that West Virginia unleashes a seam route or two down the hashes to take advantage of those gaps? Of course, they will have to beware of the Bulls' ballhawking secondary, but with their attention perhaps focused on WVU's bubble screens, there could be some room to operate. Just spitballing here.

MEDIA GUIDE MUSINGS

The USF media guide is more traditional than most we've looked at this year. Information for and about the media is prevalent in the front sections of the guide, rather than items directed at potential recruits. There are a few pages dedicated to the rise of the USF program and the campus, but the Bulls haven't made the switch to full marketing of their program up front.

I have to say I'm not a fan of the cover. It's a photo of a helmet ¼ of a turn away from straight on, with a shot of USF's bowl trophy presentation inside the facemask. The bowl photo gets sort of lost up front, and the top of the helmet (along with a bit of the logo) is obscured by the "Bulls" official logo. Just not very well put together, and the morphing of green into gold as the background doesn't help matters much either.

USF has a director of high school relations, Patrick Burnham, on its staff. The son of defensive coordinator Wally Burnham, Patrick's job is to promote ties between USF and high schools, which can presumably result in better recruiting in the future.


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