West Virginia Team Report

Updated: September 15, 2010 12:05 EST

Buoyed by a spectacular come-from-behind victory over Marshall, scoring 15 points in the final 8:48 and then winning in overtime, West Virginia renews another rivalry game against a dangerous Maryland team after a two-year hiatus.
"It's a heckuva border war," Coach Bill Stewart said.

He expects his team to grow from its near defeat at Marshall.

Asked what his team learned from starting defeat in the eye, he answered: "You want to know do they hang together in tough times. Every one of us gray beards, we've been through bumps in the road. We've had some trials and tribulations. We know how to get through them, you persevere. You find out ways to win and get things done. That's what did at Marshall and they will learn from that.

"That being said you can't get yourself in that predicament, as we did. We hung together, we were resilient."

A team with a young quarterback making his second, on the road, facing adversity is a tough situation but a necessary one if a team is going to grind it out through a long season with a football that doesn't always bounce in your direction.

"A team that is not tough, that is not resilient, that has not been through the school of hard knocks would fold its tent in that situation," Stewart said, indicating that he believes his team has the qualities that are necessary to win in tough situations.

--RB Noel Devine was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against Marshall while also catching 10 passes for 62 yards. Devine is No. 1 nationally among active running backs in career yards gained with 3,604.
--The West Virginia game at LSU on Sept. 25, the first ever meeting between the two schools, will be played at 9 p.m. and televised over ESPN2.

--WR Jock Sanders has caught a pass in 30 consecutive games, third best in WVU history and 11th in Big East history.

SERIES HISTORY: West Virginia leads Maryland, 23-21-2. (Last meeting, 2007, 31-14 West Virginia).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: All off-season it was said that the WVU offense would be as good as the offensive line and that's how it has worked out. The line has played mediocre and because of it there have been no offensive fireworks other than two methodical drives in the closing minutes against Marshall to grab a game that seemed gone. QB Geno has proved himself to be the real deal and his 32 pass completions against Marshall showed a certain maturity as he found six different receivers. RB Noel Devine has gained 100 yards in each start but has not been able to break a long TD run yet.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: After spinning a shutout against Coastal Carolina in the opener, the WVU defense found some problems against Marshall and were stung twice on long plays, a 55-yard run and a 96-yard TD pass. But in the end, it was the defense that turned the game, forcing a fumble on the WVU goal line as Marshall was about to go in for the clinching TD after recovering a fumble. WVU took that and scored 15 points in the final 8:48 to force overtime. WVU is still looking for its first sack of the season, which was an area the Mountaineers felt they would be greatly improved this year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a tremendous honor and privilege to play for the old gold and blue. In every way it's a privilege that has to be earned. My job is to do more than to teach blocking and tackling. My job is to prepare young men for live." -- Coach Bill Stewart, on suspending indefinitely All-Big East CB Brandon Hogan after he was cited for drunk driving.

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Maryland at West Virginia, Sept. 17 -- Maryland returns to the WVU schedule after a two-year hiatus. The series also was extended four years this week and now runs through the 2017 game. WVU leads the series, 23-21-2, and was hotly contested when it was played 29 consecutive times from 1980 to 2007. It was heated in the early '80s when WVU's Don Nehlen squared off against Maryland Coach Bobby Ross, and reached a zenith when former WVU QB Scottie McBrien transferred to Maryland and beat the Mountaineers three times in two years, including in the Gator Bowl. WVU has won the last four meetings, their longest winning streak in the series.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Rest assured that Maryland, seeing that all-conference CB Brandon Hogan has been suspended, will pick on his replacement, redshirt freshman Brodrick Jenkins. Jenkins had a strong camp and looks like a big time player in the future but they weren't planning on putting him into this situation yet. The WVU offensive line has to be improved in its pass protection for QB Geno Smith was sacked three times at Marshall and had to scramble quite a bit. The offensive line also has to get some movement up front in short yardage situations, which were problematic at Marshall. Preparing for Maryland's two-quarterback attack is also a challenge as one quarterback is more of a runner and the other more of a traditional drop back passer.


RT Jeff Braun -- The offensive line has had trouble blocking people and the right side of the line in particular has been shaky. If WVU is to grow into a Top 10 team this season it will have to shore up the right side and that means that Braun must begin taking his game to another level.

S Robert Sands -- Perhaps the most gifted physical specimen in the Big East, the 6-5 Sands has been bothered by a stinger and every tackle has the coaching staff holding their breath. If he is at full go, the Mountaineers' defense is among the more formidable in the nation.

RB Noel Devine -- He hasn't yet had that breakout game where he rushed for 150 or more yards, in part because the offensive line has not allowed it to happen. To compensate, WVU is using him in the passing game more and more and he caught a career-high 10 passes last time out, but the long there was only 12 yards. It seems only a matter of time before he reels off a long touchdown run or reception.


--CB Brandon Hogan, an All-Big East performer, was suspended indefinitely from the team after being arrested on a DUI charge at 3:17 a.m., Sept. 12, after being stopped driving the wrong way down a one-way street. His spot in the secondary will be taken by redshirt freshman CB Brodrick Jenkins, a promising player out of Fort Myers, Fla.

--MLB Pat Lazear is still recovering from a leg injury suffered when he was leg whipped in summer camp. The senior's starting job has been filled adequately by Anthony Leonard, who moved over from strong side linebacker and his second on the team in tackles with 15. Najee Goode has come off the bench to fill Leonard's spot and played big, ranking third on the team with 12 tackles.

--WR Tavon Austin's conversion from running back, at least until RB Noel Devine finishes his eligibility at the end of this year, has been a success as he leads the Big East in receptions and yards receiving.