Bits and Bytes: WVU - UConn

It's a noon kick, so make sure you have all your pregame snacking, including this last collection of tasty tidbits, before gametime.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: WVU 4-0
Sat 11/1/08 Noon
East Hartford, CT

Rentschler Field
Record: 5-2
BCS: NR
Last Game
Auburn W 34-17

TV: Big East
Radio: Sirius, MSN
Web: BlueGoldNews.com

Record: 6-2
BCS: 25
Last Game
Cincinnati W 40-17
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule
First Meeting: 2004
Last Meeting: 2007
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule

Click for Hartford, Connecticut Forecast

DECEPTIVE NUMBER?

Stats can be deceiving. They can seemingly highlight one fact, but actually point to another. They can be meaningless. But sometimes, their stark reality smacks you in the face. The stat this week? Seven-point-four. That's the average yards per carry for Noel Devine this year.

First, let's look at what this stat is not. It does not indicate that Devine is a back that gets five or six yards per carry, and can be ridden in the manner that Steve Slaton, Avon Cobourne or Quincy Wilson were.

However, that doesn't mean you don't give the ball to Devine. If you don't, you're missing out on the chance for another electrifying, back-breaking run. Sure, Devine might get zero, two, one and three yards on his first four carries. But then, he's just as likely to go twenty, thirty or more. You give it to him for those game-breakers. Those hold-your-breath moves. Those huge chunks of yardage.

Devine is averaging just more than 16 carries per game this season. It's time to bump that number up north of 20. Because if he gets that many, his rushing totals, along with WVU's wins, are going to increase.

As an adjunct to that, might it be time to give him a shot at kickoff returns as well? While that duty might have him a bit winded for WVU's first play from scrimmage, it might also pay bigger dividends than what the Mountaineers are currently getting from their return game.

INTO THE FRAY

West Virginia kicker/punter Pat McAfee has had to make several tackles on kickoff coverage over the past couple of seasons, as the Mountaineers' coverage has been less than stellar. McAfee has nine tackles in his career, and he's not afraid to mix it up with anyone, but he has a challenger for most aggressive specialist in the league. UConn's Desi Cullen has six tackles, including five solo stops, this year. The only shame of this matchup is that the two can't go head to head.

This week's trivia question: McAfee needs just two tackles to tie WVU's all-time record for tackles by a kicker/punter. Who holds that record?

SPREADING IT AROUND

UConn's passing attack hasn't been overwhelming, but it has been effective enough to take at least a bit of the focus off running back Donald Brown (although Brown is tied for the team lead with 18 receptions). Making the Husky passing game difficult to defend is the fact that no fewer than 16 different players have caught at least one pass in 2008. Injuries to UConn receivers have helped boost that total, as head Coach Randy Edsall has been forced to play a lot of different bodies to fill in for those players. However, it's clear that no matter the quarterback or receiving personnel in the game, they are a threat to catch the ball. That could keep West Virginia's pass defense from concentrating on one or two players.

LAUNDRY LIST

West Virginia's 35 penalties for 327 yards this year is an improvement over previous seasons. That total was helped by the fact that SEC officials threw just one flag against WVU in the Auburn game. The question is, have the Mountaineers cut down on their violations that much, or is it just the fact that SEC refs call fewer penalties? Big East officials are notorious for calling scads of fouls, so it will be interesting to see how the Mountaineers do back in front of the "home" crews in their remaining five regular season games.

EVENING OUT

Edsall will be trying to even his career record at the school. Edsall, who is reportedly receiving feelers concerning the head coaching job at Syracuse, is 56-57 in his nine-plus years at Connecticut.

A WVU loss would make the Mountaineers 111-111-11 in November road games.

LONG MARCH

I'm not sure if this stat is significant or not, but it certainly looks impressive. Wonder if there's a web site out there that tracks this sort of stat?

Since 2002, UConn has engineered 62 scoring drives of at least 80 yards, while the Husky defense has surrendered just 34 such marches. Maybe it's better to give the Huskies the ball at their own 40? Even more impressively, UConn also holds a 16-5 advantage over its opponents in the number of 90-yard and over drives since becoming a I-A program.

We should note that WVU has two 90+ yard drives this year.

TRIVIA ANSWER

Pennsylvania native Todd James holds the WVU specialist tackle record with 11.


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