TAMPA - The BlueGoldNews.com staff selects the outstanding players in the West Virginia - South Florida game.
Jarrett Brown's gritty play and leadership ability overcomes his interception in the end zone to earn Offensive Player of the Game honors. Reed Williams' continuing impressive stat line garners the defensive nod in the 21-13 loss at USF.
Brown completed 11 of 20 passes and West Virginia's lone touchdown and rushed for a team-high 61 yards. The sophomore, who entered when starter Patrick White suffered a thigh bruise, showcased his development and ability to trigger an offense. The Mountaineers moved the ball reasonably when Brown was at quarterback, something that could not be written about the play of White. In a game with few offensive bright spots, arguably the nation's best backup again played within himself and the offense and overcame numerous poor snaps to read the defense well downfield and make a handful of plays – enough to keep the No. 5 Mountaineers (4-1, 0-1 Big East) in the game until their final possession.
Williams tallied seven tackles, including one for loss and a pass breakup. The linebacker continues to make plays all over the field. He pressured South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe well and fit up especially effectively against the No. 18 Bulls' run game. He also made two key stops in the middle of the field when the line opened holes for backs. That open field physicality is one of the reasons the Moorefield native is a cog in an odd stack defense that was by far the finest unit in a sloppy game. Besides the five turnovers – West Virginia gave a Rich Rodriguez-era high six back – the defense slowed USF (4-0, 1-0) and held it to 274 yards compared to WVU's 437.
Mortty Ivy. The linebacker, who earned our defensive award last season, had 5.5 tackles and covered USF's receivers well when they went to four and five wideouts. The crossing patterns did not hurt WVU as much as it has in the past, though Ivy's pass rush was not as solid as it has been.
Keilen Dykes. The senior handled his USF counterpart up front and caused disruption in the backfield. His three tackles are minimalistic, but the All-Big East player continues to play well game in and out, and is the one major threat up front for the Mountaineers.
Touchdown-saving tackles – on offense. Quarterback Patrick White and superback Steve Slaton both saved USF scores with diving tackles, White after he had completed a pass to Brandon Hogan before the back fumbled. Slaton's dive and stretch, on his back, saved a definite Bulls touchdown and could have put the game out of reach with the woes of the offense. With so much going wrong, at least the offense put the defense in position to make plays, which it did. The entire defense deserves a nod for its superb effort.