The Kinder Garden 2/6

Unlike past seasons, West Virginia's upcoming football schedule has a nice mix of home and away dates.

That's not to say that the 2003 slate is an easy one. There are tough stretches where WVU travels to Maryland and Miami, and a November stretch of Boston College, Pitt and Syracuse, with two of those games on the road.

However, there's no killer stretch of four top twenty teams in a row, or tough road trips crowded up against a difficult home game. WVU has 11 days between the Maryland and Miami road games, and a nice break around the mid-week Virginia Tech game.

The Mountaineers do close the season with games on five straight Saturdays, but three of those are at home, which helps. All in all, the schedule is an improvement over recent years.

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A look at WVU's football recruiting class, and a peer into the crystal ball, is showing me a heap of competition in the defensive backfield in coming seasons.

With eight defensive backs in this year's class, there should be some heavy competition, especially at safety, spur and bandit over the next couple of seasons.

At the safety spot, players like Vince Beamer, Jules Montinar, Michael Meggett, Fernandez McDowell and Eric Wicks will compete with holdovers like Jahmile Addae, Lawrence Audena, and Mike Lorello, as well as Jermaine Moye, who was an academic casualty last year.

Corner should also be an interesting battle, with both Brian King and Lance Frazier graduating after this year. Larry Williams, Davanzo Tate and Vaughn Rivers will likely get first crack at cornerback positions, and compete with returnees such as Anthony Mims, Adam Jones, Abraham Jones and Thandi Smith for playing time this year, and starting roles in the future.

Of course, players will get moved around and tried at different positions, so it's not likely that all of these guys will end up where they started out. In the meantime, though, there should be some great competition to watch.

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I was beginning to get a bit cynical about basketball attendance after the crappy turnout for the WVU-Rutgers game on January 26, but my faith has been buoyed a bit by the sellout of the Syracuse game on Saturday.

The Mountaineers don't have an easy game left on the schedule, as recent results attest. Seton Hall knocked off Notre Dame and Virginia Tech blasted UConn on Wednesday, and those teams were being viewed as the easiest of the contests remaining on the West Virginia slate.

WVU needs a loud and supportive crowd on Saturday, especially when a bad stretch occurs for the home team. So don't sit on your hands or save your voices!

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