Sat 11/22/08 12:00 PM
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Cincinnati L 23-26
Radio: Sirius, MSN
Cincinati L 20-28
Series: WV 7-2
First Meeting: 1984
Last Meeting: 2007
WVU - Archie Sims (Head) Out, Mike Dent (Neck) Out, Courtney Stuart (Knee) Out
UofL - Scott Long (Knee) Out, Woodny Turenne (leg) Out, Lattarius Thomas (Shoulder) Out, Richard Raglin (Undisclosed) Questionable
WVU Offense vs. Louisville defense
The Cardinal defense is lead by one of the best coordinators in the country in Ron English, but unfortunately this is only his first year and he doesn't have all of the pieces he would like. With the exception of Tennessee Tech, Louisville has allowed at least 20 points in every game this season. The one thing this defense can really take pride in is their defensive line that returns five players with starting experience from last year's team.
Earl Heyman and Adrain Grady are the two seniors that really solidify the defensive line. Heyman is 6-3 and 285 pounds, yet slides and gets penetration with the quickness of an end. So far this season Heyman has 33 tackles including 6 1/2 tackles for a loss and five sacks. Heyman is a force in both the running game and the passing game and is a player to keep an eye on. Grady has played just as well this year, with 33 tackles and 8 1/2 tackles for a loss including two sacks. At 6-2 and 305 pounds, he plays with good pad level and is one of the unit's strongest players and is the best run stuffer at the nose.
In the pass rush, Maurice Mitchell is the Cardinals biggest threat. An explosive presence at 6-3 and 272 pounds, Mitchell has two tackles for losses and two sacks this season to go along with 18 tackles. Mitchell will be joined in the lineup by part-time starters junior L.D. Scott and sophomore Rodney Gnat, who are two very different players. Scott is 6-2 and 268 pounds, big and strong enough to play end or tackle. He has produced 22 tackles. Gnat, on the other hand, is a pure edge rusher with the speed, agility, and the size of an outside linebacker. At 6-3 and 243 pounds, he has potential as a situational rush end and this year has collected 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks.
The line backing corps is lead by Chris Campa and Jon Dempsey. Campa, at 6-2 and 215 pounds, plays fast from sideline to sideline. This season he has 37 total tackles and three tackles for a loss. Dempsey is a junior and leads the team in tackles with 59. Dempsey is good against the run and can be disruptive in the passing game as well. A name that many Mountaineer fans might recognize is Brandon Heath who most thought was going to commit to the Mountaineers out of high school before deciding on the Cardinals. The 6-1, 225-pound Heath made a move from safety to bolster the depth at linebacker. While undersized, he's a terrific wrap-up tackler with the instincts to excel in run defense.
An unsettled Cardinal secondary went from bad to worse when starting CB Rod Council was kicked off the team in February for an alleged armed robbery. The dismissal thinned an already weak position. Playing safety is converted cornerback Bobby Buchanan, who has logged 40 tackles this season at 5-11 and 200 pounds. At cornerback is converted receiver Johnny Patrick who has transitioned nicely to the other side of the ball. This season Patrick has recorded 39 tackles and one interception.
By The Numbers
WVU Scoring Offense 25.0 ppg, Rushing Offense 214.9 ypg, Passing Offense 135.3 ypg
Louisville Scoring Defense 26 ppg, Rushing Defense 95.4 ypg, Passing Defense 230.3 ypg
Advantage: West Virginia
WVU Defense vs. Louisville Offense
The Cardinals have weapons in quarterback Hunter Cantwell and running back Victor Anderson. Anderson is an explosive home run threat in the backfield, and as long as Cantwell can avoid turnovers this offense can score. Louisville's offense scores 26.1 points per game, which ranks them 44th in the country. They also churn out 384.9 yards per game which ranks them 50th in the country.
This season Cantwell is completing 57.4% of his passes for 1947 yards and 14 touchdowns. Those numbers aren't bad at all, but the number that isn't that great is his 12 interceptions. Still, Cantwell is a senior with a strong arm. At 6-5 and 236 pounds, Cantwell is built like a linebacker, yet shows good feet in the pocket and an ability to escape the heat of a pass rush. Cantwell can make all of throws and without any pressure he can easily dissect a defense.
Anderson was expected to redshirt coming into the season but instead he has taken much of the limelight carrying the ball in the backfield. Anderson is just 5-9 and 182 pounds but he's an electrifying open field runner with breakaway speed and enough wiggle to dance out of traffic. This season Anderson has racked up 973 yards on 166 carries and 9 touchdowns. Brock Bolen, who impressed WVU head coach Bill Stewart with comparisons to Owen Schmitt, is a bruiser of a back who has rushed for 399 yards on 99 carries.
The two leading receivers for the Cardinals are Doug Beaumont and Josh Chichester. Chichester has 23 receptions for 256 yards and a touchdownand while a little raw, can be a force in the passing game. Beaumont is more of a speed receiver at 5-9 and 176 pounds. Named Kentucky's Mr. Football in 2006, Beaumont is quicker than he is fast and is dangerous as a receiver or taking handoffs. This season Beaumont has 46 receptions for 569 yards.
The two senior holdovers from last year's offensive line, center Eric Wood and tackle George Bussey, have been All-Big East the last two years. Wood is one of the nation's premier centers, the heady quarterback of the line and a fourth-year starter. The 6-4 310 pound center is an immovable object with a great work ethic. Bussey is entering his third season as the starter after starting his career as a walk-on. A better pass protector than run blocker, even though he's a big 6-4 and 306 pounds, he keeps sharpening his technique and has continued to improve all season long.
At the other tackle, Jeff Adams is a massive sophomore who backed up starter Breno Giacomini last season. Adams potential resides in a massive 6-8, 316-pound frame and the long arms needed to effectively wall off edge rushers. The Cardinals feature two new regulars at guard. The leader on the right side is sophomore Mark Wetterer,. He stands 6-5 and 315 pounds, but plays even bigger, using his hands and upper body strength to control opposing defensive linemen. In Wetterer, the coaches feel they have a young cornerstone for the next three years. At the other guard, Brian Roche figures to get the start.
By The Numbers
WVU Scoring Defense 16.0 ppg, Rushing Defense 118.1 ypg, Passing Defense 185.2 ypg
Louisville Scoring Offense 26.1 ppg, Rushing Offense 172.8 ypg, Passing Offense 200 ypg
Advantage: West Virginia
WVU Special Teams vs. Louisville Special Teams
Junior punter Cory Goettsche is averaging 39.6 yards per punt this season with a long of 55 yards. A number that jumps out concerning Goettsche is that he has downed 18 punts inside the 20-yard line. Tim Dougherty and Ryan Payne have split placekickig duties this year. Payne has made 3 of 5 attempts this season with a long of 34. Doherty has converted his only field goal attempt from 36 yards.
Doug Beaumont handles the punt return duties and has run back 18 punts for 179 yards. The two kick returners for the Cardinals are Anderson and Trent Guy. Guy has returned 13 kicks this season for an average of 24.9 yards including a 95 yards touchdown. Anderson is averaging 19.4 yards per return.
By The Numbers
WVU Net Punting 41.0 yards per punt, Kickoff Returns 21.9 yards per return , Punt Returns 8.5 yards per return
Louisville Net Punting 33.5 yards per punt , Kickoff Returns 19.6 yards per return, Punt Returns 8.1 yards per return
PICKS TO CLICK
On Offense: Patrick White
On Defense: Mortty Ivy
This is a game that West Virginia should win on paper. The problem is that it's difficult to tell which West Virginia team is going to show up. As the season winds down and each game gets more important, that's normally when Pat White plays his best. We are also talking about a struggling Louisville team that recently lost to Syracuse. I like West Virginia to go on the road and pick up a much needed victory and stay alive in the Big East Conference if for no other reason than it's really all this senior class knows.
WVU - 31 Louisville - 21