For the first time since the opening game against Villanova, West Virginia's offense had a rhythm and an identity. The Mountaineers put up 445 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns against an impressive Auburn defense en route to a 34-17 victory.
The Mountaineer offense in many ways was the attack fans and foes have seen the last couple of seasons. It was an offense that was based on the run, but the difference between the offense against Auburn and the offense of old was the balance between the run and the pass. Noel Devine was the star, rushing for a career-high 207 yards and a touchdown. But that was balanced by quarterback Patrick White, who completed 12 of 21 passes for 174 yards and bounced back nicely after throwing two interceptions early in the game.
The biggest difference in the game, however, might have been a change in tempo and signal calling at the line.
"We changed our signal calls at the line and used some no huddle and some motion in order to get the Auburn defense to show their hand," head coach Bill Stewart said. Pre-snap motion has been used by WVU throughout the season, but against the Tigers it was employed more judiciously, and helped set up a couple of key gains. Changing some signal calls at the line also helped the Mountaineers and White to better read the defense.
WVU's 34 points against the Tigers was the most by WVU against a Football Bowl Subdivision foe this year.
"I was just tickled that we were able to put some points on the board," Stewart said. Stewart also complimented the fans for not giving up early when White threw two interceptions on WVU's first two possessions.
Stewart said that his main focus for the team going forward is, paradoxically, to not look ahead.
"We cannot look down the road, we have to play each game one at a time," Stewart said. That, of course is in reference to WVU's spot atop the Big East standings, and possible views of a conference championship. But Stewart did add that he feels that his team is getting better with each game, which bodes well for the November schedule. Even in the Syracuse game, where the offense struggled, Stewart felt the team was still improving.
The next test for the Mountaineers will be the University of Connecticut, this Saturday at noon on the road. WVU has yet to win a road game this year, and getting over that hurdle might not be as easy as some think
"You better believe their coaches are going to show them the 66-21 game last season, so we better come prepared, because I know they will be," Stewart said. Stewart added that t he is impressed with the Connecticut defense and its aggressiveness.
The Mountaineer offense will look to build upon their performance against Auburn, but Stewart said that the most important thing will be to do what they do best. While the offense changed sets and used a faster tempo against Auburn, the game plan could be different against Connecticut.