Defensive end Julian Miller had three of the team's six sacks against Rutgers. Junior college transfer Bruce Irvin had two and is No. 3 nationally with 1.00 per game.
"We didn't have him in spring practice and we get him in and he's trying to learn what it is we're calling," Casteel said. "I think the more comfortable he got the more his athleticism came out."
Irvin had a sack in seven games. Only four players in the country had more than his 12 sacks, led by Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, who had 15.5.
"They brought me in to get the quarterback," Irvin said. "I came in late and couldn't learn the playbook as fast as I'd like, but I made the best of the situation."
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THE DEFENSE finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in total defense, No. 2 in scoring defense, No. 2 in rushing defense and No. 11 in pass defense. WVU is the only Football Bowl Subdivision team that didn't allow more than 21 points in a game this season.
"The only stat that really matters is to win," Casteel said. "We've won nine times. Is it great to be second, third, fourth, whatever we are? Sure. I think it helps the kids and helps them go to work when it's 30 degrees out there. I think there are bonuses to those things, but those aren't the things we discuss and harp on with the players."
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NOSE GUARD Chris Neild started against Rutgers despite a hamstring injury, but couldn't go for long. Cornerback Brandon Hogan left the game with a knee injury in the second quarter. Neild was replaced by Josh Taylor while Pat Miller and Brodrick Jenkins combined to fill Hogan's spot.
"How you make up for it is by executing," linebacker Anthony Leonard said. "If you call a stunt, execute the stunt. Don't worry about who's back there in coverage. Pat Miller and Jenkins stepped up and did a good job. Josh stepped up and did a great job for Chris. You won't see a nose guard on the stat sheet, but Josh himself was responsible for a majority of those tackles made around the line of scrimmage."
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LINEBACKER J.T. Thomas III ran out of the tunnel onto the field for the final time on Senior Day wearing his father's No. 41 jersey. Thomas' father, also J.T., was a linebacker at WVU from 1994-95, but was hurt late in his senior season and didn't play on his Senior Day.
"Now he got to see his jersey grace that field one last time," Thomas III said.
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QUARTERBACK GENO Smith completed 23 of 28 passes for a career-high 352 yards and a touchdown while the offense finished with a season-high 523 yards against the Scarlet Knights.
"He's going to be phenomenal," Stewart said of the sophomore Smith, who passed or 2,567 yards and 23 touchdowns in the regular season. "He's got a chance to be really, really special."