Pass Game Focus

West Virginia has to improve its passing game in order to put up enough points against teams that jam the line, as Pitt did again in its 19-15 win over the Mountaineers.

"We have to pitch and catch the ball like we tried to do on Saturday," head coach Bill Stewart said. "South Florida are the ones that started all this off. [USF Defensive coordinator] Wally Burnham is a good coach. He's sharp, and he's cagey, and they have stuffed us for two years. They have matched up on the outside. They took their corners and locked us down, and worked safeties down into the box. Cincinnati and East Carolina did it too, and Pitt last year. And we've had no answers for it."

While WVU did try to throw the ball more against the Panthers, they completed just 15 of 28 attempts – and virtually none in the middle of the field until the futile final drive of the game. Forty-six of WVU's 143 passing yards came in the final minute, with the Panthers trading ground for time.

Stewart believed that WVU was having success in the passing game (assuming that 97 yards through 59 minutes can be termed so) and thus did not run White as much as some would have liked, even though the QB did have 98 yards in just 12 carries.

"Everyone says just run one guy, but you can't do that," he said. "You will be running your head into a stone wall. People that can't lock us down one on one, we have done well against. But those that have good corners, and they have made life miserable for us. You have to be able to throw the football when there are too many guys in the box."

The rest of WVU's run game was anemic as well. Barring one 29-yard Jock Sanders dash, the Mountaineers did next to nothing on the ground outside of White.

"They stuffed Noel on the zone too," Stewart noted. "He missed a read here and there. I thought the line pass blocked well, but didn't run block as well as they had been."


RIFLE REPORTS

Stewart singled out a handful of players who performed well.

"Brandon Hogan on defense played very well. Chris Neild came back off foot injury and played very well On the offensive line, Greg Isdaner and Ryan Stanchek played as well as they have this year."

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The big keys to the game besides WVU's offensive inconsistency? The same bugaboos as always.

"We had a couple of big drops that came back to haunt us. And the some inopportune penalties that broke our back.," Stewart enumerated. "But [LeSean] McCoy was the difference in the game. He is just tough to stop."

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Stewart termed the injury front, "not bad, probably the best we have been." Anthony Leonard is expected to be able to go full speed on Saturday. No major injuries came out of the contest, although Robert Sands left the field limping and had to be replaced by Eain Smith.

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Stewart again pledged to forge ahead and work hard to send the seniors out on a high note.

"Our focus now is on USF and sending our seniors out with a win. This senior class is a great group of young men. We are blessed with what these young men have done during their tenure. They work hard and give everything they have to give. They can still can be the all-time winningest class if they win two more. If this isn't my favorite senior class, they rank in the top two. They haven't complained or moaned and groaned. They have done everything we have asked them to do."

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Stewart again acknowledged his team's short yardage woes, but there just aren't any immediate solutions in sight.

"We have to score when we get down there, and our biggest problem has been the short yardage. We're just too young to line up and bang our head and bang our head. We are still working on it, and we want to get bigger, stronger and tougher. We will keep working on that now and through the off season."

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WVU will take its usual day off today before beginning preparations for USF. The game is set for 8:00 PM Saturday on ESPN2.


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