Royal Review: WVU - Liberty

The Duke offers his perspective on West Virginia's 33-20 win over Liberty.

As openers go, it didn't off much dramatic flair. WVU had the normal ups and downs often seen in the season's first contest, but it did the important thing – getting the win.

10. On an absolutely beautiful afternoon in Morgantown, the West Virginia Mountaineers opened the 2009 campaign by defeating the pesky Liberty Flames 33-20. I'd be the first admit, however, that I thought the score would be considerably different. Still, WVU didn't go down to the wire, like Iowa, or take the collar, as Virginia did against William and Mary.

9. West Virginia finished with a respectable 438 yards of total offense, with a good distribution of 243 passing yards and 195 rushing yards. The distribution that is disturbing was that the Mountaineers had 298 yards in the first half and only 140 yards in the second. With West Virginia's depth and half time adjustments, there should have been better production in the second half.

8. While Jarrett Brown statistically had a solid performance with 19 of 26 passing for 243 yards and another 69 yards on the ground, he appeared to be uneasy at times and didn't see some very some open receivers despite receiving good pass protection. At times Jarrett stood frozen in the pocket with no threat of a pass rush. Against better defenses he will have to get rid of the ball more quickly.

7. Tyler Urban's two catches for 49 yards were a welcome sigh – his two drops were not. Admittedly the one ball was thrown behind him, but it was a catchable ball. West Virginia needs Urban finish the season with at least 30 catches. With receivers running deeper patterns and the treat of Devine, Sanders and hopefully Tavon Austin running the corners, the ten-yard pass in the middle of the field looks to be a great option. Now I realize we haven't had a tight end since Anthony Becht in 1999 to catch 30 balls, but offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen appears poised to use the tight end. Head coach Bill Stewart is certainly in the same boat, noting, "Wasn't it great to see the tight end catch the ball?" during post-game comments.

6. Noel Devine and Jock Sanders provided solid efforts as Devine rushed for 112 yards on 17 carries and Sanders added eight catches for 95 yards. I would have liked to see Mark Rodgers get 3-4 carries, but with Liberty loading up against the run West Virginia went to the pass more often. Rodgers ran like a bullet on kick-offs, and had a nice 36-yard return on his final return.

5. On the defensive side of the ball, on third and long, I'd like to see linebacker Pat Lazear in the game. Last year the defense made mass substitutions on third and long, and it seemed like opponents continually exploited this. Liberty converted some a couple in the same situation in the opener, which is frustrating to see. Lazear's abilities to rush the passer or drop back in coverage would seem to make him a viable option in this package.

4. You have to be impressed with redshirt sophomore Julian Miller. BlueGoldNews.com's defensive player of the game had 1.5 sacks and three tackles for loss, and he provided West Virginia with a real pass rush treat. It will be fun watching his development over the remainder of his career

3. It appears that nothing has changed from last year regarding kickoff coverage, although WVU did improve in the second half after some personnel changes. Liberty's Mike Brown had long returns of 39 and 45 yards and Allen Aldreakis added a 30-yarder. Any off-season adjustments have not shown their fruits. The next two games against East Carolina and Auburn will be very telling if the story of coverage is headed down the path we saw early, or the one in the second half, where some improvements were seen.

2. The kicking game was certainly a question mark coming into the season with the graduation of Pat McAfee, but Tyler Bitancurt banged through some nice kicks of 38, 35, 45 and 36 yards. Scott Kozlowski was very good in the punt game, averaging 47.5 yards per kick and knocking one boot dead at the one-yard line.

1. A new era in Mountaineer football started Saturday, as Pat White is no longer under center. It was nice seeing several Miami Dolphin #6 jerseys floating around the stadium, but it is now Jarrett Brown's time. While Jarrett needs to improve his performance it was his first start as "The Man," and from that point of view it was a good first start.

Enjoy the Labor Day weekend and see you in Morgantown next Saturday for the East Carolina game.


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