While West Virginia appears destined to again finish second in the country in rushing (Navy has had a stranglehold on the top spot over the last two-plus seasons), the Mountaineers are tops in the nation in a stat that might be more important – average yards per carry.
WVU has gained 2,383 yards on just 389 carries this year, which works out to an average of 6.31 yards per tote. Navy, on the other hand, has piled up 2,743 yards, but it has taken the Midshipmen 502 tries (5.46 yards per carry) to do so.
West Virginia has also scored a national best 31 touchdowns on the ground this year.
CHANGE OF OUTLOOK
What looked to be a rugged closing stretch for the Cardinals has softened considerably over the past couple of weeks. Louisville faces South Florida and Rutgers in its final two games, and with the free fall of those teams, the Cards (5-4) have great hopes of recording their tenth consecutive winning season (and an accompanying tenth straight bowl appearance).
NO MORE SWINGING DOOR
In its last three games, Louisville has begun to shore up its defensive deficiencies. UofL has allowed an average of just 20.7 points per game over that span. And while its defensive numbers aren't terrific, the Cards have cut down on their yardage allowed totals, yielding 139.3 yards per game on the ground and 205.7 through the air. In the first six games of the season, the Cardinals were yielding 30.7 points per game and 444.7 yards of total offense.
MOVIN' ON UP
Steve Slaton broke the WVU career record for rushing touchdowns earlier this year, and is now on the brink of doing the same for the career scoring record (non-kickers division). Slaton, with 306 career points, trails leader Ira Errett Rodgers (313) by just seven. Two TDs (or one and a two-point conversion), will give Slaton that mark.
Patrick McAfee is also poised to put his name atop the list of career extra points made. McAfee has 151, trailing current record holder Jay Taylor by just one. He is also just three behind Taylor in PATs attempted, and will soon hold that mark as well.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Louisville's running backs and tight ends have combined for 98 receptions and 1,102 yards so far in 2007. That's 32 more yards that Patrick White's total through the air this year. That is not meant to be a knock on White's or WVU's use of the pass. It's simply to illustrate the number of weapons that the Cardinals can deploy in the passing game.
However, from another angle, this number might be an encouraging one for West Virginia. While the Cards have been able to get their tight ends free in the middle of the field against foes, many of the passes to running backs have been drop-offs forced by receivers being covered downfield. That's certainly a goal for the West Virginia defense in this game.
West Virginia's athletic training program is one of the best in the nation, and Mountaineers are dotted throughout the county's sports programs. That's also true at Louisville, where Head Trainer Dewayne Treolo (WVU 1985) and assistant Brad Farrell (WVU 1997) are on the Cardinal staff.
MEDIA GUIDE MUSINGS
Louisville's media guide is one of the best ones we've seen during the 2007 season. It's well-organized, has media information up front, and although it contains pages targeted at recruits (as do most guides today) they aren't overwhelming or overdone. There might be a few too many pages covering UofL's facilities (with some repetitious information included), but that's a small quibble.
The guide is easy to use, with a large table of contents, headings on each page which makes flipping through the 208 pages and locating the desired information much easier, and clearly marked page numbers (you'd be surprised at how many times page numbers are an afterthought, or not easy to use). Louisville also sends media members the spiral bound version of their guide, which is appreciated. These versions allow the guide to lie open and stay open at the desired page, which isn't the case with traditionally-bound versions.
The one oddity about the guide? It includes a couple of pages of advertising at the end. That's something we've never seen in any other guide.