Bits and Bytes - Marshall

Our last roundup of notes, information and items of interest as WVU prepares to host Marshall in the latest edition of the contrived series. Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 7-0
Sat 09/27/08 3:30 PM
Morgantown, WV

Mountaineer Field
Record: 1-2
Last Game
CU L 14-17

TV: Big East Local
Radio: Sirius, MSN

Record: 3-1
Last Game
S Miss W 34-27
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule
First Meeting: 1911
Last Meeting: 2007
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast


Wisconsin's lopsided win over Marshall has given a decidedly odd tilt to the Herd's stats. For example, despite it's 3-1 record, Marshall has been outscored 104-100, and holds an edge only in the first quarter in terms of scoring by period.

The one place where the stats ring true, however, is in the Herd's pass defense. Marshall is yielding more than 300 yards per contest in this play phase, and every quarterback that has faced it this year has rung up very good numbers. Unfortunately for WVU, that's not an area that it will likely to be able to exploit.


Can you name the seven teams which West Virginia has played at least five times and never lost to? Answer at the end of this column.


West Virginia's struggles to get consistent pressure on the quarterback this year will be met with an even sterner test on Saturday. Marshall did not allow a quarterback sack in its first three games, and yielded just two against Southern Mississippi.

Getting sacks is just part of the pressure story, however. Getting close, getting hands up, deflecting passes and causing hurried throws are just as important as actually taking down quarterbacks, and it's there that the story of Marshall's very good pass attack vs. WVU's inconsistent pass defense will be told. West Virginia has nine sacks to its credit this year, but has tallied just two quarterback hits and a like number of pass deflections by its defensive linemen. This suggests that WVU gets to the quarterback on occasion, but when it doesn't, it's often not close enough to bother the throw.


Over the past few seasons, West Virginia has racked up big play after big play from scrimmage. The sight of Patrick White or Steve Slaton romping through gaping holes in the line for gains of 20+ yards was commonplace. However, there has been a dearth of those plays in 2008, and that, as much as the well-documented short-yardage failures, has limited WVU's scoring.

So far this year, West Virginia has eight offensive plays from scrimmage totaling 20 or more yards. WVU's foes have nine. Only six of WVU's big plays came on the ground, with Patrick White and Noel Devine accounting for three each.


Remember when Marshall used to trumpet the "fact" (and that wasn't always the case) that it had more West Virginians on its roster than WVU, and that somehow made it a better representative of the state? The latest roster from MU has 12 instate players on it.


With new faces and a revamped interest in the passing game, everyone expected WVU to be at least a little more successful in its downfield efforts. However, the promise of the preseason has evolved into the reality of game action. Only one player, Alric Arnett, averages more than 8.8 yards per reception, and overall WVU is tallying just 6.8 yards per catch. While that number doesn't necessarily have to improve for WVU to start winning games, it appears that they won't have the anticipated big plays to help get defenders off the line of scrimmage.


Say what you will about the competition, but Marshall's play against the run so far has been very good. The Herd is allowing just 118 yards per game and only 3.4 yards per attempt on the ground. Add in the fact that the longest run against MU this year has covered just 17 yards, and you get a picture of a defense that has played its assignments well and limited the big play, at least on the ground. Defensive coordinator Rick Minter has long displayed his ability to stop the run, and he is doing it again this year at Marshall.


William & Mary (15-0), Westminster (14-0), Virginia Military (11-0), Bethany, W.Va. (13-0), Marshall, (7-0), California, Pa. (6-0) and Grove City (6-0) are the teams with at least five games, but no wins, against WVU. Barring an unforeseen leap to Division I, none of those schools other than the Herd will ever break into the win column.

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