Posted by John Antonik on Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Post your comments
Friday and Saturday is reunion weekend for the West Virginia University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The 40th anniversary of the 10-1, 1969 Peach Bowl team will take place on Friday night at the Touchdown Terrace at Milan Puskar Stadium.
More than 100 people are expected to attend a dinner, including Gov. Joe Manchin, as well as key Mountaineer players Mike Sherwood, Carl Crennel, Bob Gresham, Dickie Roberts and Dale Farley.
On Saturday, the returning Peach Bowl players will be recognized on the field during a brief first-half ceremony.
Also, bowl rings will be presented to approximately 30-40 members of the 1975 Peach Bowl team during a private ceremony in the Hartley Club before Saturday’s WVU-East Carolina game. An anonymous gift was made to purchase bowl rings for members of that outstanding team. Players during that period typically received a watch by the school for bowl participation - rings for the players came later when Don Nehlen arrived in 1980.
On Friday afternoon, the WVU Varsity Club will be holding its annual golf outing at the Pines Country Club with more than 80 former Mountaineer players expected to play in a four-man scramble. On Saturday before the ECU game, the Mountaineer Athletic Club anticipates more than 300 people at the Varsity Club tailgate in Tent City. The Varsity Club tailgate will start at noon.
“Our Varsity Club membership has tripled this year,” said John Matsko, director of development for the Mountaineer Athletic Club. “We have been really pleased with the response. It’s been overwhelming.”
Finally, the athletic department will officially induct its 19th class of WVU Sports Hall of Fame honorees Saturday afternoon at the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility. The newest class includes: Aaron Beasley, Fred Graham, Jeff Merrow, Kristin Quackenbush-DiBartolomeo, Bob Smith and Lowry Stoops.
Quarterback Jarrett Brown offered his prescription for success this weekend against East Carolina. “We have to be physical,” Brown explained. “They out toughed us last year.”
Brown said there may be some new wrinkles revealed on Saturday against the Pirates.
“This is a different offense,” Brown said. “Coach (Jeff) Mullen has a feel for what he wants out of us and I have a feel for what he wants. We went through all of the growing pains last year.”
Brown admitted that the East Carolina game has been on the back of the players’ minds for a while now.
“We talked about not turning the ball over against East Carolina all spring and summer,” Brown said. “That is the first thing on our win chart – taking care of the ball.”
Brown thinks the best result for the WVU offense will be to try and dictate what East Carolina does on defense, rather than being forced to react to what the Pirates do to the Mountaineers.
“We need to make them defend what we do, not so much worry about the defense, but just make sure we get our job done,” Brown said. “We need to execute, take care of the ball and make them defend every part of the field in this spread offense.”
When I begin thinking about past West Virginia-East Carolina games, there are two that distinctly come to mind, and both of them were played in Greenville. One came in 1986 when quarterback Mike Timko completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to a diving Harvey Smith in the corner of the end zone with six seconds left on the clock, giving West Virginia a come-from-behind 24-21 victory over the Pirates.
The other one happened in 1995 in Greenville when the Pirates pulled out a 23-20 victory. Most of what I remember from that game actually happened before the opening kickoff.
The charter we took to Greenville made a hot landing at the airport with the pilot making about a 60 mph bank turn just ahead of the retention fence. I could see out of the window the firemen, emergency crew and maintenance workers giving the pilot a standing ovation, which was a little unsettling.
The other thing I remember was WVU radio-man Tony Caridi being terrorized by a five-pound Chihuahua at B’s Barbeque. The killer dog had Caridi pinned to the side of the building before the owner intervened (one helpful tip about selecting barbeque joints that I learned from my trips to Greenville – find the one with the most flies, those are the best ones).
As for the game, I recall consensus All-American cornerback Aaron Beasley dropping a sure interception for a touchdown at midfield, and I also remember the Pirates fumbling the football while trying to kneel down to run out the clock late in the game (I think the refs missed a WVU defensive lineman hitting the ball before the center-quarterback exchange that caused the fumble).
West Virginia’s attempt at a game winning drive was actually more of a retreat. The Mountaineers got the ball at their own 25 and ended up at their own nine when the clock expired.
What also stands out about those two seasons, 1986 and 1995, were that they were losing ones for the Mountaineers.
The one thing West Virginia has been able to do against East Carolina in recent years is run the football. Here are some of the rushing totals put up by the Mountaineers against the Pirates:
According to WVU Sports Marketing Director Matt Wells, the majority of the tickets remaining for the East Carolina game are singles. There are very few pairs left. To order tickets for Saturday’s game you can log on to WVUGAME.com or call the Mountaineer Ticket Office toll-free at 1-800-WVU GAME.
Bill Kirelawich may be developing his next impact edge pass rusher in 6-foot-4, 251-pound sophomore defensive end Julian Miller, who had seven tackles, three tackles for losses and 1 ½ sacks last week against Liberty.
||Kay-Jay Harris ran for a school-record 337 yards in a 56-23 West Virginia victory over East carolina on Sept 4, 2004.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
Miller says Kirelawich has really helped him by instilling good fundamentals on a daily basis.
“I may be a little bit underweight compared to some defensive ends or defensive linemen that have been on the team in the past, but for the most part, as long as I have good technique, good hands and stay low, Coach Kirelawich says I will be alright,” Miller said.
ESPN has revealed its Big East “Big Monday” schedule for 2009-10 and West Virginia will be making three appearances this year. They will be on Feb. 8 (Villanova in Morgantown), Feb. 22 (at Connecticut) and March 1 (Georgetown in Morgantown).
Here are West Virginia’s all-time ESPN “Big Monday” appearances:
Pitt, Feb. 9, 2009 (Pittsburgh), 59-70, L
Pitt, March 3, 2008 (Morgantown), 76-62, W
Pitt, Feb. 27, 2006 (Morgantown), 67-62, W
Syracuse, Feb. 20, 2006 (Syracuse), 58-60, L
Georgetown, March 3, 2003 (Morgantown), 67-69, L @
Syracuse, Feb. 4, 2002 (Syracuse), 64-76, L
Georgetown, Jan. 5, 1998 (Morgantown), 81-70, W
@ makeup game
Tyler Bitancurt’s college debut against Liberty was similar to the debut Ken Juskowich had on Sept. 9, 1967 when he kicked four field goals in the Mountaineers’ 40-0 victory over Villanova. Four games later, Juskowich made a career-best five field goals in a 15-0 victory over Pitt. That was the infamous Backyard Brawl when Pitt was held to minus-21 yards rushing and 25 yards of total offense.
“A complete humiliation,” was how Panther coach Dave Hart chose to characterize his team’s performance against the Mountaineers. “This has got to be the worst football game I have ever been associated with.”
Certainly Ken Juskowich didn’t see it that way.
Juskowich finished his first season at WVU by making 12 field goals and scoring 56 points. Juskowich is believed to be one of the first American-born soccer style field goal kickers - at least that is what he told me on the telephone the other day. Who can argue with that?
West Virginia’s Doc Holliday was one of the nation's top 25 recruiters mentioned by JC Shurburtt of Scouts Inc.
Wrote Shurbutt: Holliday has extensive ties in South Florida and has used those at North Carolina State, Florida and now his alma mater, West Virginia. He, too, is excellent at building relationships with prospects and their families and is a talented closer. When he was at Florida, he elevated the Gators to major status in Broward and Dade counties (they have always recruited Palm Beach fairly well). He signed talented quarterback Eugene Smith out of Miramar High School for the Mountaineers in the last recruiting cycle.
Assistant Sports Marketing Director Nathaniel Zinn informs me that Jarrett Brown’s 243 yards passing against Liberty last Saturday were the most by a WVU quarterback in a season opener since 1995, when Chad Johnston threw for 390 in a 26-24 loss to Purdue.
I have to admit, this one surprised me a little. I was researching some NFL draft lists to see where East Carolina defensive end C.J. Wilson ranked among the top pro prospects (46th according to NFLDraftScout.com) when I came across this … rated 18th by the NFLDraftScout.com is West Virginia offensive tackle Selvish Capers.
He was the third-highest rated offensive tackle behind Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung and Oklahoma’s Trent Williams. Also among the early bird top 100 pro prospects was quarterback Jarrett Brown at No. 60.
Here is NFLDraftScout.com’s Top Five Pro Prospects in the Big East as of right now:
1. Arthur Jones, Syracuse, DT
It's one week into the season and Cincinnati has already taken care of the Big East-does-not-have-a-team-in-the-Top-25 problem. The Bearcats had little trouble with Rutgers Monday afternoon, defeating the Scarlet Knights 47-15. What I can’t figure out is if Cincinnati is that good, or if Rutgers is that bad?
2. Selvish Capers, West Virginia, OT
3. Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati, WR
4. George Selvie, South Florida, DE
5. Mike Williams, Syracuse, WR
Rutgers has decided to pull touted freshman Tom Savage’s redshirt, meaning the offense has now turned into on-the-job training for its young quarterback.
That may be a wise move by veteran Coach Greg Schiano. With three of its next four games coming against Howard, Florida International and Texas Southern, the Scarlet Knights could conceivably get through that stretch with at least a 3-2 record before an Oct. 16 meeting with Pitt at Rutgers Stadium. The only toughie is a trip to Maryland on Sept. 26. That may be enough time to get Savage ready to go for the next wave of Big East games.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, has interesting games coming up at Oregon State on Sept. 19 and at home against Fresno State on Sept. 26. With Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats can throw the ball with anyone in the country (I would rate Gilyard as the most explosive offensive player in the Big East) but I want to see how well the Bearcats can run the ball when they have to. I also want to see how their defense performs against a more experienced offense. I am not sure the Bearcat D was really tested on Monday afternoon at Rutgers.
We will get a better read on how good Cincinnati is in two weeks at Oregon State.
As I write this, the Coliseum is being overtaken by event staff comprised mostly of young men in tight, black pants preparing for tonight’s Fray concert. I am going to check with my 9-year-old daughter to see if she is familiar with any of their songs. I hope not.
Have a great week!