Bits & Bytes: West Virginia - Rutgers

It's an early noon kickoff for WVU-Rutgers, so get your fill here with the final items of interest before the game Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 29-4-2
Sat 10/4/08 Noon
Morgantown WV

Mountaineer Field
Record: 2-2
Last Game
Marshall W 27-3

TV: Big East Local
Radio: Sirius, MSN

Record: 1-3
Last Game
Morgan St W 38-0
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule
First Meeting: 1916
Last Meeting: 2007
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule


Through four games, West Virginia has been assessed and benefited from exactly the same amount of total penalty yardage. WVU has committed 23 infractions for 221 yards, while its foes have been flagged 28 times for exactly the same amount of yardage.

Of course, the timing and type of penalties are also important to consider, and West Virginia has certainly committed some fouls at the worst of possible times. Against Marshall, WVU's defensive offside penalties helped extend Herd drives, while holding calls squashed at least two promising offensive forays.


We always try to include a trivia questions in this space, and this one might be one of the best we've encountered.

Rutgers is playing its 139th season of football, having participated in the first recognized intercollegiate contest back in 1869. Over that span, the Scarlet Knights have faced three foes in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Can you name them? A bit of thought will probably get you at least two of the foes. The answer, as always, follows at the end of this column.


It's not our intent to offer a "Turnover Stat of the Week", but when those numbers jump off the stats, we'd be remiss not to highlight them. West Virginia ranks first in the league in turnover margin at plus two. Although that's not a margin that puts WVU in the national rankings, it's much better than that of Rutgers, which sits last in the league with a minus-7 differential.

A plus-one margin per game is a good goal for any team, and almost a must for a ground-based team like WVU. Turnovers are looming even larger this year, what with the possession-cutting results of the clock change rules implemented this year. With fewer possessions per game, hanging on to the ball (and stealing one or two from the opposition) becomes more critical than ever.


Rutgers has blocked punts in two consecutive games. The most recent came against Morgan State, as defensive end Jamal Westerman broke through to reject a kick. He also recovered the ball and advanced it 20 yards to set up a Rutgers touchdown.

West Virginia's punt protection scheme, which features a number of different alignments, makes it difficult for foes to set up block tactics. WVU can punt from a conventional formation, but also can spread either one or both sets of the three players that set up on the line on either side of the ball out wide. The Mountaineers also varied the look by spreading just two of those players to one side against Marshall. Add in the ability to roll out to punt, and the moving three-man shield in front of the punter, and West Virginia is a difficult nut to crack in terms of getting to the punter.


Patrick White will, in all likelihood, move into second place on the all-time NCAA quarterback rushing list this week. He trails Indiana's Antwaan Randle El by just 20 yards. What's more, White will have required two fewer games than Randle El to reach his mark of 3,895 yards. Once there, White will set his sights on Missouri's Brad Smith, who piled up 4,289 rushing yards in 48 games. The Rutgers game will be the 42nd of White's career.


Rutgers has allowed just eight sacks in 2006 and ten in 2007. Both figures ranked among the best in the nation. However, the revamped Scarlet Knight front line has already yielded five in 2008. That's still a good number, but it's reflective of the decreased efficiency of Rutgers' offense. The style of a passing game and the mobility of a quarterback also have a good bit of say in sack numbers (how many has Patrick White avoided during his career?), but it does look as if at least some of the problems in Rutgers' passing game can be attributed to increased pressure on the quarterback.


The three schools that Rutgers has faced at least once in each of the last three centuries are Army, Navy and North Carolina. Interestingly enough, the Scarlet Knights face all three of those foes in 2008. They only have one more chance to record a win, having dropped contests against Navy and North Carolina earlier this year.

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