By John Antonik
September 23, 2007
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It was A's all around for a West Virginia team its coach said played one of its best games in several years on Saturday against East Carolina. The Mountaineers ran their record to 4-0 following a 48-7 victory over the Pirates. That victory now sets up a showdown of nationally ranked teams next Friday night at South Florida.
||Jock Sanders was one of eight different receivers to catch a pass Saturday against East Carolina.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks
“We had a good week of practice, we had a great physical practice on Tuesday and I don’t remember any mental breakdowns on Thursday,” Coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I thought the guys on both sides did a great job of executing our assignments.”
On Saturday it was hard to find anything wrong on either side of the football. The West Virginia defense pitched a shutout for 59 minutes before backups finally allowed a Chris Johnson 3-yard touchdown run with 59 seconds remaining in the game.
“They moved around well,” Rodriguez said of his defense. “We got some pressure and the key was we were able to make them one dimensional.”
East Carolina came into the game averaging 242.7 yards per game through the air but only managed to complete 7 of 14 passes for 54 yards against a WVU pass defense that has been a constant cause for concern.
“We’ve got guys that can play over there,” Rodriguez said. “People want to criticize the odd stack but no matter what scheme you have if you’ve got a bunch of guys playing hard and executing the system you’ve got a chance.”
It was the first time since 2005 (Wofford) that the WVU pass defense has held the opposition to less than 100 yards passing and the first time since UConn in 2005 that an opponent managed less than 200 yards of offense.
West Virginia quarterbacks were also sharp. Yesterday, Patrick White and Jarrett Brown combined to complete 88 percent of their passes going 22 of 25. That set a Mountaineer Field record previously accomplished against James Madison in 2004 when WVU quarterbacks completed 19 of 24 passes for 79.1 percent.
Patrick White was especially sharp, tying a school record held by Mike Sherwood (9 of 10 against Richmond in 1970) by completing 90 percent of his pass attempted (18 of 20). White completed passes to eight different WVU players.
“Whatever they give me I’ll take,” White said. “If they give me the run I’ll run. If the give me the pass I’ll take that.”
“We knew before that we had some perimeter throws and we didn’t use them,” said Rodriguez. “In a spread offense you’ve got to make people defend you for 53 1/3 yards.”
Rodriguez was particularly pleased with the downfield blocking of his wide receivers.
“Wes Lyons had the best block of the day,” Rodriguez said. “He used his 6-8 frame to get a pretty good one and he got everyone excited.”
White jokingly called it “the best hit I’ve ever seen in my lifetime in the history of sports.”
Even the crowd got into the act causing East Carolina to have four false start penalties.
Now West Virginia must buckle up its chinstraps and get ready for No. 23 South Florida next Friday night in an early-season Big East showdown on ESPN2. The Bulls beat North Carolina, 37-10, on Saturday to improve to 3-0.
“Our players like the night games and they like the national TV games and who wouldn’t?” Rodriguez said.
South Florida is one of only three teams to beat West Virginia since 2005.