Bits & Bytes: WVU - Pitt

We know you're full of leftovers, but there are a few more niblets of info to be had as the Backyard Brawl nears. Game Scorecard
Fri 11/28/08 12:00 PM

Pittsburgh, PA

Heinz Field
Record: 7-3
BCS: 25
Last Game
Louisville W 35-21
Radio: Sirius, MSN
Record: 7-3
BCS: 25
Last Game
Cincinnati L 21-28
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule

Series: UP 60-37-3
First Meeting: 1895
Last Meeting: 2007
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule

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West Virginia's reliance on the run has led to some low passing yardage totals and performances over the past few years. When was the last time WVU failed to get at least one first down via the pass? Answer, as always at the end of this column.


We fully admint we didn't expect to see Patrick White break the NCAA career quarterback rushing record last week, owing to the 198 yards he needed to eclipse that mark. It was just the latest, and probably the last, reminder that you should never count White out of anything. He now holds 16 school, Big East and NCAA records, and figures to add a handful more to his total before his stellar career comes to a close.

The next record that could fall? Steve Slaton's school record of 50 rushing touchdowns. White has 46, and while the odds are slim...

White also needs 52 points to tie Slaton on the WVU all-time non-kicker career scoring list. Again, a long shot, but as we've seen...

Finally, White is just 226 yards away from becoming the Big East's career total offense leader. He is currently third, trailing Syracuse's Donovan McNabb (9,950 yards) and Louisville's Brian Brohm (9,725).


Pitt ranks 18th nationally in time of possession average (31:55 min./game). The Panthers have won the possession battle in seven of their 10 games this season. That is surely cause for concern for Bill Stewart, who commented several times on WVU's lack of success in keeping the ball this year. However, like any stat, time of possession must be looked at in context. If you team is socing on quick strikes, then time of possession could be a misleading indicator of success in the game. Stewart's basic point in lookin g at TOP -- getting the ball back from the other team -- remains a valid one, however.


Pitt has had 15 different players carry the ball at least once from scrimmage this year. West Virginia, by way of comaprison, has had just eight. For WVU, Noel Devine and Patrick White have combined for 1,907 of West Virginia's 2,310 yards on the ground. The Panthers feature Le'Sean McCoy, who has 1,125 of Pitt's 1,442 yards.

Also, McCoy gets a great deal of publicity for his production, and deservedly so. However, a look at the numbers reveals Devine might be getting a bit shortchanged. He has just four fewer yards on the season, and has 63 fewer carries that McCoy. Thus, Devine is averaging almost two more yards per carry than his Pitt counterpart.


Pitt has blocked a school record nine kicks so far this year, and seems to have players specializing in different phases of rejections. Greg Romeus has blocked three extra points, while Andrew Taglianetti has turned back three punts. Louisville came close to blocking one of WVU's roll punts last week, so it will be interesting to see how the Panthers attack West Virginia's protection scheme.

Pitt has also blocked three field goal attempts, giving them a trio of blocks on each type of kick this year.


The Panthers are a solid third-down conversion team, averaging a 38% success rate. However, on fourth down, that number skyrockets to 76%. Pitt has picked up a whopping 13 of its 17 tries on fourth down. No data was immediately available on the length of those conversions, so if ten of them were fourth and inches, that skews the data a bit. Still, those numbers have to give the Panthers a good deal of confidence -- which is no small matter when lining up in a do-or-die situation.


You have to go back much further than the current run-happy era to find the last time WVU didn't get a virst down through the air. That occured in the Peach Bowl on Dec., 30, 1969. The driving rainstorm and cowpasture field certainly didn't help passing, but West Virginia was already headed for a ground-based strategy, having installed a wishbone offense between the last game of the regular season and the bowl. WVU rode a 206 yard rushing performance from Eddie Williams to a 14-3 victory, attmepting jsut two passes in the entire contest.

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