Posted by Tony Caridi on Monday, December 8, 2008 (11:41 am)
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They say statistics are for losers. Maybe they are, but a close look at the numbers explains why Pat White and the others guys wearing white walked off the field with a win late Saturday night.
Throughout the season West Virginia’s defense has been both larcenous and stingy. Against South Florida, WVU forced three turnovers and surrendered just one. That brings the Mountaineers’ Big East-leading turnover margin to plus-12 for the season. No other conference team finished on the plus side. In short, the Mountaineers can strip, rip, steal, and pick.
When it comes to stingy, Jeff Casteel’s defense is Mr. Scrooge. The Mountaineers allowed 54 points in the second half, which includes seven second half shutouts. That’s less than five points per second half.
Are you kidding me?
South Florida was held to the post-halftime goose egg on Saturday night. The Bulls entered the Mountaineer red zone on four occasions and scored just once. That shouldn’t come as a surprise; WVU finished the season as the best red zone defense in the Big East.
The good news is that WVU’s defense should be even better next season with the return of nine starters and Fiesta Bowl MVP Reed Williams, who sat out this season as a medical redshirt.
Here are a few other numbers to pass your way now that conference play is complete. West Virginia finished the season number one in scoring defense, rushing offense, turnover margin, and who can forget … successful on-side kicks?
Individually, Noel Devine finished third in rushing; Patrick White was sixth. White was third in total offense and passing efficiency.
Defensively, linebacker Mortty Ivy was sixth in tackles with 86 stops. Cornerbacks Ellis Lankster and Brandon Hogan ended the season fourth in passes defended. Both players had very good seasons. Hogan’s transformation from receiver to cornerback has to rank among the best position switches in years.
The Mountaineers have one more test before the season officially ends and the North Carolina Tar Heels will provide a stiff challenge. The ‘Heels own victories over three ranked teams this season. Coach Butch Davis’ squad averages 28 points per game, while allowing 20.
It should be an interesting and entertaining match up.