Match-Ups: WVU - CCU

West Virginia's opener with Coastal Carolina should allow for some extra time to watch some of our featured match-ups Game Scorecard
Sat 9/4/10 3:30 PM

Morgantown, WV

Mountaineer Field
Record: 0-0
Last Game
Florida State L 21-33
TV: Big East
Radio: MSN
Record: 0-0
Last Game
Chas South L 23-30
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2010 Schedule

Series: 0-0
First Meeting: 2010
Last Meeting: 2010
Press Release
Season Stats
2010 Schedule

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WVU defensive end Will Clarke vs. Coastal Carolina tackle Jamey Cheatwood

Clarke didn't play a year ago, but made every road trip with his teammates in order to prepare him for what the coaches believed would be a significant roll in 2010. That starts Saturday, when Clarke, part of West Virginia's four-man front in passing situations, gets his first taste of game action. That will be the first big challenge of his career on the field, and its one which should get a good bit of attention from Mountaineer fans.

We use the word "big" on purpose, because Cheatwood, a redshirt freshman, is certainly that. He stands six feet, five inches and weighs in at 310 pounds, so he'll give Clarke a look at what awaits him, at least in terms of body size, in 2010. But will he be able to keep in front of Clark, who has shown good pass rushing skills? Or will WVU's youngster be able to outmaneuver his Chanticleer foe?

Other than Cheatwood, CCU features a veteran offensive line with starting experience at the other four positions, so the Mountaineers figure to test him early and often. Look for some blitzes and twists early on, but the feature match-up will come when Clarke hits the field. Both players will be fighting to make a solid impression in the first snaps of their careers, and it should be an interesting battle to watch.

All this is based on the assumption that the Mountaineers wills tick with the lineup they showed in fall camp – that is, Clarke at the right defensive end and Bruce Irvin at the left. WVU could flip flop the front and put Irvin up against Cheatwood, which would be an even bigger challenge for the young CCU lineman. WVU might move Irvin to different spots in its pass rush as well, so there's a good bit to watch for on the left edge of the offensive line when the Chants are forced to throw in passing situations.

WVU quarterback Geno Smith vs. Coastal Carolina Secondary

Mountaineer fans are certainly excited to see how Smith fares at the helm of the Mountaineer offense, but the Coastal Carolina secondary might give him a bit more of a challenge than many watchers would expect. Safeties Marcus Lott and Dominique Davenport, both all-league selections, will add to the puzzle and figure to give Smith a few problems to figure out.

Geno Smith
We know that half the Mountaineer fan base expects a total blowout, and another quarter think the Chants will offer no resistance at all, but that's not the case. CCU has a veteran secondary that should represent itself well, if not at the level of high BCS foes. Three defensive backs with postseason honors dot Coastal's depth chart, including All-America pick Josh Norman at left corner. Norman had eight picks and broke up another 15 passes as a sophomore, and he's not just going to sit idly by as West Virginia attempts passes.

West Virginia will likely ease into its passing game slowly, and give Smith a few early easy tosses to get him into the flow of the game and build up some rhythm. WVU wants to get the ball to its playmakers on the perimeter, so it won't be a surprise to see some of those short passes in early game action. Of course, there's always the chance that the Mountaineers go deep early, especially if the Chants hold true to form by bringing a safety down to the line and daring WVU to beat them through the air. In that case, will offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen let Smith go deep and stretch the field? Either way, Smith should get some good experience facing the solid CCU secondary.

Many will be watching Smith for any signs of lingering problems with his twice-broken foot, and will also keep an eye on his behavior in the pocket. Smith showed no signs of antsy footwork or happy feet in fall camp, but he wasn't subject to contact then, either. Another item to watch will be his pocket presence. He's shown good poise in scrimmage situations, and has gone through his progressions and identified secondary receivers well. If he can continue to do that, he'll have taken another big step in his progression as a quarterback.


It's been many years since West Virginia has had more than one dependable wide receiver threat that could consistently get open and catch the ball. For some seasons, the ability to block seemed to be more highly prized than being able to make a downfield catch and run. Is this finally the year that WVU can put two or three threats on the field at once?

In addition to Jock Sanders, WVU might just have found some guys to make that dream a reality. A good start against Coastal Carolina would certainly help youngsters such as Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney, or help J.D. Woods show that he is also ready to contribute consistently. In addition to sheer productivity, however, it will also be interesting to watch the rotation at wide receiver. Where does Tavon Austin play? Have the aforementioned players passed Bradley Starks, who again missed time during fall camp? Who gets time when WVU goes to its three- and four-wide sets?

The rotation at receiver certainly isn't set in stone right now. In many ways, the Coastal contest will serve as another important audition for all of the faces trying to make their mark at receiver. Keep track of who is on the field, who gets throws their way, and most importantly, who makes plays on them. By day's end, you should have a much better idea of where each pass catcher stands on the depth chart.

* * *

Has anyone slipped as quietly into a starting role as Terence Garvin? The sophomore grabbed the spur position by the throat in the spring and never let it go, causing something of a shakeup behind him. His progress allowed WVU to commit Sidney Glover to the bandit position, and as a result the Mountaineers have a pair of strong safeties who hit like linebacker. But while most Mountaineer fans know about Glover, Garvin still remains somewhat in the shadows.

If you take the time to watch him, that shouldn't last long. Garvin is a big hitter, and he's usually to be found right in the thick of the action. Take a few plays to watch number 32. More than likely, he'll lead you right to the ball.

Of course, run support isn't the only thing Garvin has to be concerned with. He mustn't get caught up in the excitement of his first starting assignment, or be so concerned with dishing out the big hit that he gets out of position. If he can play with the correct balance of control and aggression, WVU may be looking at its next great defensive player.

* * *

Need another defensive player to eyeball? You could do worse than to isolate on Branko Busick for a few plays. The redshirt freshman is another guy that thrives on contact, and one that plays the middle linebacker spot with an old-school love for hitting. It would have been nice for Busick to ease his way onto the field, but for now it looks like he'll be the starter at the mike backer in place of Pat Lazear, who continues to nurse a severely bruised knee.

There probably aren't any concerns about Buisck in run support. He'll stick his face into the fan, and has no qualms about taking on the biggest blockers. The place to watch him is against the pass. Like Garvin, he'll have to fight the tendency to overplay the run, and make sure he hits his marks and makes good drops against the pass. West Virginia's defense has been susceptible to crossing routes and passes in the middle of the field in recent years, and Busick is sure to be tested by the Chants' excellent pair of tight ends.

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