PoG: WVU - Colorado

Our picks for the top performances from West Virginia's 35-24 win over Colorado on Thursday night in Morgantown:

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:

NOEL DEVINE. After some questioned whether the junior should be getting more carries after the Auburn loss, he was handed the ball 22 times and responded with a career-high 220 yards against Colorado.

That improved upon his previous career-high of 207 yards, which (perhaps not coincidentally) came in his last Thursday night home game, which came last season against Auburn.

Devine displayed his much-ballyhooed ability to break away from the pack, scoring on a 77-yard run on his first carry of the game. He later added a 56-yard tote to that count.

But when West Virginia was struggling to pass the ball in the third quarter and needed to chew up clock, Devine was there also.

His solid north-south running and noteworthy patience in waiting for running lanes to open helped the Mountaineers chew up over six minutes of clock on a 14-play, 69 yard scoring drive that ended with a touchdown to give his team a two-possession lead.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:

REED WILLIAMS. The fifth-year senior returned to the lineup after sitting out at Auburn and made his presence felt in a big way.



Reed Williams

Williams led the team in total tackles, with nine. Three of those takedowns were solo efforts.

But the linebacker made his most significant impact in the passing game, where he broke up a game-high three passes and made life difficult for CU quarterback Cody Hawkins almost all game long.

While Williams did get beaten early for a big gain by Colorado tight end Riar Geer, he more than atoned for that with his performance the rest of the game, leading a defense which kept the Buffaloes from scoring when WVU's offense was fumbling seemingly every possession away.

GAME BALLS:

  • CHRIS NEILD. The nose guard wreaked havoc all game long in the middle of CU's offensive line and made life difficult for Hawkins, who ended the game with three interceptions and a relatively low completion percentage.

    Getting pressure up front was key, and with Scooter Berry still held out of the lineup due to injury, Neild stepped up to the plate in a big way for Jeff Casteel's defense.

    Neild had six total tackles, two of which were solo efforts. He had one tackle for loss. But his efforts in getting pressure and plugging running lanes simply can't be seen by looking at the box score alone.

  • THE OFFENSIVE LINE. While the fact that Jarrett Brown was sacked three times might make it look like the front five had a rough outing, that was hardly the case.

    Good coverage downfield made Brown hold the ball a bit longer than he should have on a few occasions, and the signal-caller's hesitance to throw the ball away cost him.

    The offensive line paved the way for Devine and company on the long drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters, taking up several minutes of critical time and putting points on the board when it mattered most.

    The fact that WVU faced only one third down play on that whole drive was thanks largely to the work the offensive linemen did opening holes on first and second downs.

  • SCOTT KOZLOWSKI. The punter continues to impress on the few chances he gets to see the field. Between the frequent scores and the seemingly more frequent turnovers for WVU, the senior been called upon to boot the ball too often.

    But when he does, he has done admirably. Kozlowski averaged 48 yards per punt on Thursday night and put enough hang time on the ball to limit CU returner Jason Espinoza to only 12 total yards returning punts.

    Kozlowski had a long, booming punt of 56 yards and pinned Colorado inside its own 10-yard line in the final minutes of the game, effectively ending any threat of a comeback.


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