After West Virginia's dominating 27-3 whitewashing of Marshall on Saturday, much of the talk surrounded the new role of junior quarterback Jarrett Brown, as well it should have. Brown and his 6-4, 220-pound battering ram of a body proved to be a more than adequate solution to West Virginia's short-yardage woes which were exposed in the overtime loss at Colorado, when the Mountaineers were 0-5 on third down and less than two yards.
Here and elsewhere over the past few days, plenty has been written about the added element of Brown to an offense which is still very much a work in progress. What hasn't been mentioned as much, though, has been the unselfish way that Brown carries out this and other responsibilities.
Simply put, the guy is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Such a statement may sound cliché, but in Brown's case, it is backed up by evidence both on the field and off.
Let's face it, standing on the sidelines for much of your college career cannot be an easy pill to swallow for any competitor, especially one as highly-touted and talented as Brown. At some point during the past few years, it would have been understandable if Brown would have packed his bags and transferred out to another school where he wouldn't have to sit behind one of college football's most explosive players.
Instead, he's remained a loyal Mountaineer. And when his number is called – whether it's filling in for an injured Pat White in a must-win game as a redshirt freshman and leading WVU to a thrilling win as he did against Rutgers in 2006, or lining up alongside White as a utility runner as he did against Marshall – Brown has delivered.
Even in the football offseason, with West Virginia's hoops team in need of another body and added toughness, Brown has heeded the call. Though he did not see a ton of game action during his stint on the men's basketball team last winter, Brown's tenure on the hardwood was lauded by head coach Bob Huggins for outstanding practice play. And, not surprisingly, when he was thrust into game action, he more often than not provided a much-needed spark for the Mountaineers.
To clarify, Brown's role on the field against Marshall may have been new, but the way he went about executing it was business as usual for No. 16, that being with an unselfish, team-first approach which produces winning results.
An MRI on Sunday morning revealed no structural damage to either one of Noel Devine's ACLs. On a related note, a rash of ankle sprains has depleted the Marshall defense to the point that head coach Mark Snyder acknowledged that he may have to hold open tryouts with the student body later this week to fill out the depth chart in preparation for Friday's game against Cincinnati.
Kidding on both counts, of course. There was no MRI (please no worrisome overreactions on the message boards) and as far as I know, Devine didn't literally break anybody's ankles during the game. Yet, one has to wonder how neither of those stories became a reality after Devine's breathtaking runs on Saturday afternoon. On multiple occasions, Devine made like the Road Runner to Marshall's Wile E. Coyote as the talented sophomore juked and jived all over the artificial surface of Mountaineer Field, leaving Marshall defenders grappling at thin air.
While his second year in Morgantown is well underway, Devine's exploits continue to leave me shaking my head in amazement. You would think that having watched the guy turn these tricks time and again in games and practices, the initial sense of shock and awe would have worn off by now. On the contrary, the sense has heightened.
Halting the 4.3 speed on a dime is impressive on its own, as are the open field moves that Devine seems to showcase every week. Add the two together and combine them with the ability to reverse field and speed past the defenders for huge chunks of yardage, and it's easy to understand why the crowd noise builds to a crescendo of anticipation each and every time Devine touches the pigskin.
I heard one observer remark that Devine's moves are "PlayStation-esque." To that, I must respectfully disagree. Trying to execute those kinds of moves on PlayStation would almost certainly result in ligament damage to either thumb.
Senior defensive lineman Doug Slavonic arguably played the best game of his Mountaineer career on Saturday, finishing with four tackles and an impressive takedown of MU quarterback Mark Cann in which Slavonic ripped the ball from Cann's helpless grasp, resulting in a big turnover for West Virginia.
One can only imagine what went through Slavonic's mind when Cann left the pigskin so exposed on his way down to the turf.
"It looked like a beach ball out there," Slavonic recalled after the game.
The Mt. Lebanon, Pa. product was so excited about recovering the fumble that he nearly left the field with the ball still in his hand until a teammate stepped in and prompted him to give the ball back to the referee.