Royal Review: WVU - UConn

On a beautiful fall afternoon, the Duke took in West Virginia's fifth consecutive win over UConn.

10. On a very pleasant afternoon the West Virginia University Mountaineers took care of business and beat the University of Connecticut Huskies by the score of 35-13. While the game produced some uneasy moments in the first half, the Fiesta Bowl Champions really flexed their muscles in the second, and won this game going away. The win was big in several respects, as it made West Virginia bowl eligible and was also the first road win of the season.

9. UConn junior running back Donald Brown, who as of last week lead the nation in rushing with a 165.5 yards per game average, finished the day with 19 carries for 82 yards. Brown was impressive on UConn's first two drives as he carried the ball five times for 53 yards and broke several tackles. Give credit, however, to the West Virginia defense, which held him to 29 yards the rest the game on 14 carries. WVU controlled gaps and cutback lanes up front and never let Brown get untracked after the first couple of series.

8. While Jock Sanders played another very solid game (seven carries 45 yards and three carries for 21 yards, including three touchdowns), he also dropped a long pass for the second consecutive week. West Virginia needs to correct this problem, which reared its head several times in the game. Tyler Urban also dropped a beautiful potential touchdown pass from Pat White, but fortunately, West Virginia still completed this drive for a touchdown. UConn was also afflicted with this malady; dropping a pair of potential TD passes of its own.

7. UConn's Rentschler Field has one of the nicest real grass fields that I have seen firsthand. The only other field that comes to mind with this level of quality is Penn State's Beaver Stadium field. It is hard to distinguish Rentschler Field from Field Turf, as the field is green and plush, and there aren't any noticeable brown sections. Unlike most real grass fields, Rentschler also does not have a normal crown (i.e. high point in the middle of field that runs north to south and that slopes to the sidelines for drainage purposes). There is only the slightest of elevation change between midfield and sideline.

6. I overheard some UConn fans discussing the game at the Hartford airport on the way home, and they were discussing how they should have won the game and if it weren't for missing this ball here and that play there, they would have. This type of discussion reminded me of the old days when West Virginia would be beating Penn State at halftime and lose at the end of the game, or West Virginia would gain more yardage then Penn State yet lose the game. UConn's program has come a long way, and they should be proud of this, but West Virginia is simply at another level.

5. The only statistic that matters is the final score, but three stats you'd like to win in every game are time of possession, third down conversions and turnovers. Those areas were dominated by the Mountaineers in this contest, and were really where the game was won. West Virginia held the ball for 35:09 while UConn maintained the ball for just 24:51. On third down conversions, West Virginia was 7 for 15 while UConn was 3 for 12. Without looking at the stats I must say that it seemed like UConn's third down conversion efficiency was much higher, but that just shows that perceptions from the stands can be much different than reality. Lastly, the key difference was the turnover margin – 5-0 in favor of West Virginia. UConn's three interceptions and two fumbles were the major difference in the game.

4. For the second week in a row, the West Virginia team looked like it was the better- conditioned team, as the Mountaineers imposed their will on the Huskies in the second half. Mike Joseph, Director of Strength and Conditioning, deserves much of this credit. Some fans were a bit too quick to declare that the team was not in proper condition early in the season, but that certainly doesn't look to be the case.

3. On defense, it was really a great team effort. Leading the way was cornerback Brandon Hogan with two big interceptions for 50 yards and senior linebacker Mortty Ivy who had ten tackles and a pick of his own. This unit is really swarming to the ball, and after the first couple of UConn drives, it didn't miss many tackles.

2. Another interesting sight at the stadium was a large "2007 Big East Champion" banner on the press box. I was surprised at the large number of West Virginia fans who mentioned this and it seemed to hit a nerve as many thought the banner should say Co-Champions, not just Champions.

1. Well gang, it appears that the team is clicking on all cylinders as West Virginia heads into the final third of the season with Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt and South Florida still to go. These teams are all capable of knocking the Mountaineers off their perch atop the league standings, but WVU is just as capable of running the table and returning to a BCS Bowl game. It's time to start the home stretch. I'll see you in Morgantown Saturday as the Mountaineers host the Cincinnati Bearcats.


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