PoG: WVU - USF

While it was a largely frustrating performance for the Mountaineers and their fans at Raymond James Stadium, a few WVU players (and one special Tampa resident) did enough to earn recognition from the Blue & Gold News staff on Friday night.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Alric Arnett. The performance of the junior college transfer and fifth-year senior was one of the few silver linings in dark cloud that hung over WVU's second loss of the season.

Arnett had six catches for 84 yards. Both of those numbers were not far off of the career-highs the receiver tallied in last December's Meineke Car Care Bowl win over North Carolina, as he had seven grabs for 93 yards in that contest.

On a day when many Mountaineers struggled, even our player of the game was not immune. Arnett did bobble a ball on a third-and-8 play from the USF 33-yard line in the fourth quarter that would have gone for a critical conversion.

Instead, the team punted on the next play and watched the Bulls drive the field for a field goal that expanded their lead to two possessions, essentially putting the game out of reach.

Still, the offense likely would not have done enough to have even stayed close to keeping pace with USF's quick-moving unit without the performance of Arnett. Thus, he earns the nod.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Anthony Leonard. While regular starting middle linebacker Reed Williams did see action against USF, it was Leonard who did the majority of the work from that position.

Williams is clearly dealing with considerable pain, as he mostly saw the field on long passing downs in an attempt to keep B.J. Daniels from attacking the middle of the field.



Anthony Leonard
In his stead, Leonard had a solid all-around game. He had seven total tackles -- three of which were solo efforts. Two of his tackles went for a loss, for a total of minus four yards.

To be honest, it was a struggle to come up with a player worth noting on a defense that struggled. In the end, Leonard won out largely because he was one of the few players on that unit who did not get noticed for doing the wrong things during the course of action.

GAME BALLS:

  • Tyler Bitancurt. Not only did the redshirt freshman make a 33-yard field goal in the first half, but he stepped up and performed admirably on kickoffs after head coach and special teams coordinator Bill Stewart opted to pull Josh Lider from that duty.

    Bitancurt boomed the ball over 70 yards into the end zone on his first kickoff, resulting in a rare touchback -- the first kickoff for a touchback without the aid of a penalty this season.

    He also did well on a later sky kick, getting enough hang time to allow his coverage unit to get downfield and stop Lamar Lindsey at the USF 24-yard line to start the third quarter -- a 14-yard return of Bitancurt's boot to the 10-yard line.

  • Tavon Austin and Mark Rodgers. The duo were responsible for the solid field position WVU had after every Bulls kickoff.

    With the exception of a pair of touchbacks because of the depth of USF kicks, the Mountaineers started each of their seven drives that began as a result of a kickoff at no worse than their own 31-yard line. Three returns went beyond the West Virginia 35-yard line (to the team's 42, 39 and 37 yard lines, in order).

    While the offense struggled at times to deal with the Bulls defense, the solid field position helped keep the visitors within striking distance nearly all game long. The credit for that must go to Austin and Rodgers, as well as a group of upbacks who created the lanes for them.

  • The lady in charge at the Burger King near the stadium. As the Blue & Gold News crew did not leave Raymond James Stadium until around 1:30 a.m. (and still had work to do upon arriving back at our hotel room), getting a late night bite was of critical importance.

    While the addition of Greg Hunter's parents (who are now 0-2 on road trips this season -- we are considering banning them from Cincinnati and Rutgers) meant that those working the graveyard shift for the fast food chain would have to feed five of us, one stellar employee somehow cranked out an error-free order.

    Yours truly wanted a plain hamburger (as in TRULY plain) and got it. Kevin requested no tomatoes on his Whopper -- and lo and behold, there was nary a hint of the red stuff in between the sesame seed bun halves.

    This would hardly be noteworthy otherwise, but considering: 1) the late hour of the order; 2) the sheer size and complexity of the order; and, 3) the fact that one person was taking orders, taking money, pouring drinks and seemingly cooking the food as well, we were compelled to pass out the final game ball (which no Mountaineers truly earned anyway) to her.

    While she remained anonymous to us, her hard work did not go unnoticed -- or unappreciated.


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