PoG: WVU - Louisville

While few style points would be awarded for the Mountaineers' 17-9 victory over Louisville on Saturday afternoon, the BlueGoldNews.com staff still managed to make its picks for West Virginia's top performers from its seventh win of the season.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Julian Miller. The defensive end also had to serve as a de facto assistant coach on the field Saturday, helping along a patchwork defensive line that, for much of the second half, utilized three players who are typically defensive ends to cover the end, tackle, and nose guard spots.

Despite the losses of Josh Taylor (ankle injury), Chris Neild (shoulder), and Scooter Berry (shoulder and leg issues), Miller thrived alongside reserves Jorge Wright and Larry Ford.

Miller had three sacks of Louisville quarterback Will Stein, including back-to-back takedowns on the Cardinals' final possession.

Those plays were particularly pivotal, backing up the U of L offense from a first-and-10 situation at the WVU 42-yard line with a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes into a third-and-24 from its own 44-yard line, effectively ending the threat.

Miller's 8.5 sacks on the season give him the lead on the team.

With the Mountaineers preparing to face a high-flying Cincinnati offense this Friday night, another big game from the third-year sophomore might be what the defense needs to handle its upcoming opposition.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Jock Sanders. The slot receiver pulled double duty on Saturday and performed well in both his typical pass-catching role and an added responsibility at running back. ??



Jock Sanders

The junior caught three passes for 20 yards, including a pivotal touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining in the first half. After starting tailback Noel Devine went down with an ankle injury, he moved into the backfield and carried 12 times for 66 yards.

His 5.5 yards per carry average was better than that of Devine, who had 56 yards on his 13 attempts before hitting the sidelines.

Sanders busted a 19-yard run on the second play of his team's opening possession of the second half, kick-starting a drive that would end with a 9-yard scoring rush by Tavon Austin to give WVU some breathing room at 14-6.

While his numbers were not earth-shattering, he did just enough to help a struggling offense keep Louisville behind all game long.

GAME BALLS:

  • Scott Kozlowski (with an honorable mention to Cory Goettsche). The punting units of both teams were of tremendous importance on a day when both offenses sputtered.

    In the end, West Virginia had a considerable edge in that department, helping it secure an important advantage in field position for much of the second half.

    Kozlowski averaged 47.6 points on his seven punts and managed to pin the Cardinals at their own 2-yard line for their next-to-last possession of the game.

    That performance, which was particularly impressive at the end of a week in which head coach Bill Stewart said the senior was "on the verge of being sat down," was only magnified by the poor job Goettsche did for the visitors.

    The U of L punter averaged only 35.2 yards on his eight kicks, a difference of 12.4 yards of field position on each exchange of punts. The senior also had punts of 13 and 22 yards on consecutive attempts in the third quarter.

    That 13-yarder gave WVU the ball at the Louisville 43-yard line. A mere four plays and 18 yards later, Bitancurt added a 42-yard field goal to give the home team its only two-possession lead of the game at 17-6.

  • The WVU defensive line. Its performance was hardly exceptional, giving up 201 yards rushing -- the first 200-yard running performance allowed by the Mountaineers since their 66-21 win over UConn in 2007.

    But the fact that the unit was not gashed for even more than the 164 yards U of L's Darius Ashley gained on the ground is remarkable.

    With the aforementioned injury issues along the front three, the play of Ford at nose tackle and Wright at defensive tackle did just enough to keep Louisville out of the end zone.

    Credit should go to line coach Bill Kirelawich for managing to do enough in practice to somehow get Ford prepared to play the all-important nose spot, where he faced double team after double team and managed to hold his own despite his relatively small 252 pound frame.


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