MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- While this is the sixth consecutive season West Virginia plays a Southeastern Conference team, this Mountaineers' squad might be significantly different than the previous five.
No. 22 WVU visits No. 15 LSU for Saturday's 9 p.m. ESPN2 game at Tigers Stadium, but this Mountaineer team won't look quite the same as some of its recent predecessors that used to slice through SEC opponents.
"I think they'll see we still try to do some of the same stuff," WVU Coach Bill Stewart said. "We do run the zone (read). We run the belly (option) a little bit. We still try to play fast.
"We didn't have tight ends before.
"We never had a tight end who caught passes. We didn't have any bigger backs. Now we have that and we're more well-rounded."
The Mountaineers are also still blessed with fast players and still play most of the game out of the shotgun. Fundamentally speaking, they still prefer to get their quickest and most talented players free in open spaces.
How it happens, however, is not the same.
"We're probably more multiple," Stewart said, "but that's in the eye of the beholder."
Behold what the SEC has seen from WVU in recent years: The offense introduced itself to the league in the 2006 Sugar Bowl with 382 yard rushing against Georgia and three touchdowns by Steve Slaton - two covering 52 yards each.
Those Mountaineers would run through Mississippi State with the reads and the options from Slaton and quarterback Pat White and with Darius Reynaud taking short passes and turning them into scores in 2006-07.
The coaching change followed the 2007 season and things began to shift in a new direction as offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen planted the seeds for an offense that is beginning to blossom this year.
WVU trailed Auburn 17-3 in 2008 before WVU went with three and four wide receivers and let White and Noel Devine zip through the space. Devine had 207 yards and a touchdown as part of 31 unanswered points in a 34-17 win, but White also hit slant routes again and again for 174 yards and three scores.
Last season Devine helped the Mountaineers take a 14-0 lead early at Auburn, but Jarrett Brown ended up throwing 32 passes, mostly because the lead vanished and WVU had to come back, due in part to a few of his four interceptions.
Auburn won 41-30.