Dorrell Jalloh doesn't leap off the page in terms of measurables, but he has a knack for turning in big plays in crucial situations. Everyone knows about the big two-point conversion catches that sealed overtime wins over Louisville and Rutgers, but he also has shown the ability to make catches when his team needs them the most. Such was the case again against Louisville, when the steady senior snared a pass on third down and ten and turned it into a 28-yard score, giving WVU a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter.
West Virginia, having squandered several first-half scoring opportunities, needed to put some points on the board to cap drives, which it was unable to do in the opening 30 minutes. Dropped passes, short yardage setbacks and stumbles all contributed to those failures, so when it needed to come up with a big play, WVU went to its most consistent performer outside of Patrick White.
On the play, WVU lined up in a five wide, empty backfield formation, and when the Cardinals brought a safety inside to help control a possible Patrick White draw, it left Jalloh one-on-one. He beat his foe with a quick inside move from the slot and snared White's pass for the score that put West Virginia in the lead for good. The Mountaineers had other such opportunities earlier in the game, but it was Jalloh who executed and finished for six.
"That was a great opportunity for me to make that play. We practiced it all week, and Coach Mullen said we were going to call it today," Jalloh said afterward. "It was a perfect play call for third and ten."
Like head coach Bill Stewart, who was admittedly perturbed at West Virginia's inability to get in the end zone despite running up and down the field in the first half, Jalloh was upset as well at the offense's inability to get into the end zone.
"We did get a little frustrated when we couldn't execute and score in the first half, but we got the ball in the second half and went right down and scored," he noted "That's a great boost. It fueled not just the offense, but the whole team for the rest of the game. A lot of people don't understand [how important it can be] to take the ball down on the first drive and scoring. It's great motivation."
Jalloh and his teammates also made some adjustments in the run game, which may have helped in WVU's rejuvenated ground assault.
"We figured out a couple of little different things on the blocking scheme on the perimeter. I was talking with Ryan Stanchek about it, and we were able to do some good things on the corner."
After such a good all-around performance, would it be a surprise to see Jalloh get a little more time, or at least a few more passes aimed his way? Although he's the ultimate team player, and would never lobby for such, the thinking here is that Jalloh is West Virginia's best wide receiver. He's not the flashiest, not the fastest, not the tallest, nor the shiftiest. He isn't going to be able to beat defenders deep on speed alone. But put him in the right design, and he can get open. And when the ball comes his way, he catches it, and runs through tackles. He blocks well, and is tenacious in doing so. Add it all up, and he should be a primary weapon in the passing game.
With two critical games to go in the regular season, WVU could lock up a warm-weather bowl destination with a pair of wins. The Gator Bowl or Sun Bowl loom as distinct possibilities, given a Cincinnati win over Syracuse and an expected Notre Dame lost to USC. What better way to help get them than by going to the most dependable receiver on the team?
To date, Jalloh has 22 catches for 284 yards and five scores. Those numbers could easily double if he were utilized in a feature role over the final three games of his career. While West Virginia certainly needs to keep getting the ball in the hands of White, Noel Devine and Jock Sanders, there certainly should be room for a player that has repeatedly answered the bell when called upon.