www.charlestondailymail.com WVU Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers stun No. 4 Baylor http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141018/DM03/141019161 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141018/DM03/141019161 Sat, 18 Oct 2014 19:25:34 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Tony Gibson can relax.

The West Virginia defensive coordinator trusted a risky game plan against a prolific passing offense and did so without his starting cornerbacks, but was wildly rewarded. The Mountaineers suffocated No. 4 Baylor and the nation's leading scoring offense for a 41-27 victory before 60,758 at Mountaineer Field Saturday.

"I haven't eaten much the last 48 hours and I haven't slept much the last 48 hours," Gibson said. "All I heard about all week from some of you guys and some of the TV people and from listening to the TV, even though I try to block all that out, was this was going to be a track meet.

"I took it as a personal challenge and the defensive coaches took it personally, but it all falls back to the kids. We can't go out there and play."

Defensive end Shaq Riddick had three of the team's four sacks, cornerbacks Ricky Rumph and Ishmael Banks played solidly after starters Terrell Chestnut and Daryl Worley were lost to injury in the first half and the aggressive Mountaineers held Baylor to 318 total yards, the offensive juggernaut's lowest total since October 2010.

The Bears (6-1, 3-1) had just 223 yards passing and went 3-for-18 on third down as WVU (5-2, 3-1) asked its cornerbacks to play man-to-man and hang on while the linebackers hovered around the line of scrimmage and blitzed.

The Mountaineers decided Sunday that was their best chance to beat Baylor.

"I think they didn't expect us to come out and play man like we did," Banks said. "It caught them off guard. Last year, we sat back in coverage and their offense spread us out and we left big holes inside. We had to keep guys in the box and tell the corners to earn their scholarship check."

In the 73-42 win in Waco, Texas, last season, Baylor ran for 476 yards. In the rematch, WVU allowed just 95 yards on 42 attempts and five first downs on the ground.

Little went right offensively last season, either, and Clint Trickett was pulled from the game in the third quarter. He, too, did better with his second chance and completed 23 of 35 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns. He extended his school record with an eighth straight 300-yard game and also brushed off a turnover on the third play of the game and another on the fourth series.

Receiver Kevin White caught eight passes for 132 yards and scores in the first and fourth quarter. He has at least 100 yards in every game this season and was the first receiver in the nation to surpass 1,000 yards. Mario Alford caught three passes for 53 yards, and his 39-yard touchdown on third-and-10 with 7:27 put the game out of reach.

WVU would get the ball back two more times and Wendell Smallwood picked up two first downs on the final drive to drain the clock. The Mountaineers ran the ball 50 times for 137 yards, but three sacks cost the total 25 yards and a two more yards went away when Trickett took a knee on the final snap to start the celebration for the first home win against a top-five team since 2003.

"Credit goes to West Virginia," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "They played with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion. We knew the crowd would be engaging, which they obviously were. They played a good game.

"We had a good opportunity early in the game and didn't take advantage of it. We had to settle for field goals. In particular on the road, you have to score touchdowns. That came back to haunt us in the second half."

Quarterback Bryce Petty completed just 16 of 36 passes for 223 yards and two scores. Antwan Goodley caught nine passes for 132 yards and a long touchdown and Corey Coleman added 77 yards and an early touchdown.

"They had a pretty good plan and loaded the box and pressured a lot - a lot more than we thought they would," Petty said. "At the end of the day, I've got the ball in my hands and I've got to be sure what I do helps the team be successful. I was off."

Baylor set a school, Big 12, Mountaineer Field, WVU game and WVU opponent record with 215 penalty yards. The 18 penalties were one shy of a school record and matched the WVU field, game and opponent records. Six of the penalties were for pass interference and five came defending White.

WVU committed 14 penalties for 138 yards and the two teams combined to beat school and site records for penalties and penalty yards in a game.

"I've never been involved with anything like that," Briles said.

WVU took a 27-20 lead early in the third quarter on Josh Lambert's 24-yard field goal, but the Bears tied the score when Shock Linwood twirled into the end zone on a 1-yard run on third-and-goal. That only came about after when WVU was flagged for lining up offside when it stopped Linwood short on third-and-goal.

WVU and Baylor each followed with punts, but Trickett threw a perfect fade to White in the corner of the end zone for a 12-yard score before answering a Baylor punt with the long pass to Alford.

"I was pretty excited about that one," Holgorsen said. "We'd been working on that one against man coverage when they blitz it. We finally hit it."

The Mountaineers led 24-20 at halftime and somehow managed to take all the momentum into the locker room despite three turnovers and losing one starter on offense and two on defense for the game.

The Bears took a 20-14 lead with 8:21 to go in the half when Goodley got behind Chestnut to catch a long pass and then cut left across the field and scored for a 63-yard touchdown. Coleman blindsided Chestnut with a clean block that knocked Chestnut out of the game.

WVU went three-and-out and Baylor went at WVU's two backup cornerbacks with a 10-yard pass on first down. Riddick then sacked Petty and Banks batted down a pass to force a punt. The Mountaineers countered with a touchdown run from Dreamius Smith, who was playing because starter Rushel Shell was injured earlier. Smith carried on all five plays on the drive.

Baylor then ran twice for two yards and Petty was hurried and threw short of Goodley on third down for a three-and-out. The Mountaineers lined 11 players up on the line of scrimmage for the punt for the second time in the half and Baylor managed a 69-yard kick to push WVU back to its 9-yard line with 2:54 to go.

The Mountaineers took every second and completed a 16-yard pass on third-and-11 and a 24-yard pass on third-and-15 to set up Lambert's 54-yard field goal as time expired for a 24-20 lead.

A lead seemed unlikely throughout the half, though. Trickett was sacked and lost a fumble at his 7 on the third play of the game and Petty threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Coleman on Baylor's first snap for a 7-0 lead 59 seconds into the game.

Trickett answered with a 36-yard touchdown pass to White, who was in 1-on-1 coverage, which didn't happen much the rest of the game. The teams traded punts and Baylor added a 38-yard field goal before Trickett was intercepted on third-and-3 to set up a 34-yard Baylor field goal.

Chris Callahan was 0-for-5 from 30 yards or longer entering the game, but his two kicks made WVU's opponents 12-for-12 on the season. The teams punted back to one another again, but Baylor's kick was fumbled by starting cornerback Daryl Worley, who had to run up to catch the short kick and was hurt when he dived forward. He injured a rib and did not return.

The Bears took over at the WVU 29, but ended up giving the ball back after Petty overthrew Goodley on what should have been a touchdown pass on fourth down.

The Mountaineers responded quickly, and Trickett's 37-yard pass to White, Smallwood's 10-yard run and the fourth pass interference penalty of the half against White moved the ball to the Baylor 12. Andrew Buie put WUV ahead 14-13 with a 1-yard run.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY: Attitude key to WVU defensive success http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141018/DM03/141019191 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141018/DM03/141019191 Sat, 18 Oct 2014 01:43:46 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN - K.J. Dillon jogged off the football field Saturday, the first drive under his shoulder pads, his eyes building, his heart pounding. He found defensive coordinator Tony Gibson and offered up a confession.

"Coach," said the junior safety, who more than once this season has been described as the key to whatever good West Virginia does on defense, "that No. 11 can run."

That No. 11 was Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant, and he might be the fastest player in the Big 12. He is a diminutive dynamo, all of 5-foot-6 and 170 pounds, but stout and speedy and thus a handful in the slot. Dillon is WVU's Spur and is charged with covering such players.

It did not go well in that first half Saturday and that was not good news to Gibson, not merely because Dillon is supremely confident and sincerely believes he is faster, stronger and better than everyone on the other team. No, this was a frightening flashback.

"K.J. early on in the game didn't play well," Gibson said. "It was probably, if you go back, the same game a year ago and the same thing with Texas Tech. He just didn't play well."

Dillon got himself in trouble as the Mountaineers fell behind 21-10, but he got them out of trouble before halftime. WVU was playing a Cover 3 defense with three safeties deep, until one safety, freshman Dravon Henry, took Texas Tech's bait and jumped forward to cover a shallow crossing route.

That let Grant arch uncovered across the middle to where Henry should have been. For some reason, Tech's quarterback, Davis Webb, missed it and threw deep along the right sideline. And for some reason, Dillon was there, having spun sharply when he read Webb's eyes and mind and raced back to be in position to float over and intercept the pass.

The storm was over and WVU would head to halftime, which was said to be the most constructive one of the season. It showed in the second half, where the Mountaineers allowed two field goals - both in the red zone and one following a WVU turnover - and a 69-yard touchdown run that only happened because two players conspired cripple the play.

"In years past, in games past, we would have been done," coach Dana Holgorsen said. "Maturity is big. We've got a lot of kids on defense who have played a lot of ball and they understand going into their third year in the Big 12 what the offenses are like."

Grasping that, simply knowing there are going to be bad moments, makes it easier to swallow them and move forward.

"Guys understand what we're trying to accomplish on defense," Holgorsen said. "You're not going to suffocate teams like Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU. The list goes on and on. You're not going to suffocate them. Nobody is. What you can do is keep playing defense and maintain a positive attitude and get excited about key stops. That translates into winning games."

That constitution is going to be severely and repeatedly challenged when the Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) play host to No. 4 Baylor (6-0, 3-0) at noon Saturday on Fox Sports 1. The Bears come to town with the nation's top-ranked offense, a Heisman Trophy contender at quarterback, a scary swarm of receivers and the Big 12's best running game.

Yet WVU enters with that positive attitude, with a handle on that obtuse approach and even with a little bit of momentum.

Again.

A year ago, WVU won at home against then-No. 11 Oklahoma State and held the Cowboys to offensive marks they hadn't dipped to in quite some time. The Mountaineers felt like they were figuring things out and that they would get better, and perhaps the two would combine to give them a chance on the road at Baylor.

Nope. The Bears scored on a 61-yard touchdown on the third play when WVU had one of those dreadful mental errors that defined last season's group and still pop up often enough to make Gibson ill. It was 56-14 at the half and 73-42 at the end. Rather than recite all the numbers, just know WVU had never played as poorly on defense. Ever.

Gibson said he'd never been as embarrassed and the performance left a mark.

"It lingered for the rest of the year," he said. "We never got back on track defensively after that game. Some of that was maybe playing young guys and some of it was maybe lost confidence and some of it was due to injury - that was the first game where we started losing guys.

"But that lingered throughout the rest of the season. In the offseason, we moved on and forgot about it. It's a whole new deal. And it doesn't matter what this final score ends up being this game. I'm not worried about where we are. We're a completely different group right now."

How different? In last year's disaster, WVU started two defensive linemen and a safety who were seniors, a linebacker who is out for this season and a defensive end who has missed the past two games probably won't play Saturday, one linebacker who doesn't really play anymore and another who is now a backup defensive end and a cornerback who quit the team earlier this season.

This season, WVU will start All-America FCS transfer Shaq Riddick and sophomore Noble Nwachukwu at defensive end and converted defensive end Kyle at nose guard. Junior college transfer Ed Muldrow and veterans Wes Tonkery and Nick Kwiatkoski, who barely played in last season's game because of injuries, will start at linebacker. Daryl Worley, who didn't start last season, will start at cornerback and is now the best the team. Cornerback Icky Banks and safeties K.J. Dillon and Karl Joseph return to fill out the starting lineup.

Recruiting and maturation, which is the general and necessary evolution of any program, have helped this defense. They still make errors, but they get over them. They fall behind, but they understand it's a long game. And their confidence, their general knowledge of the game and how to play it, is fostered by what Gibson admits is a simpler scheme.

"I would think a simple scheme lets them play faster and a little harder when they don't have to think as much," Gibson said.

These Mountaineers rarely ever add to their core package. A year ago, they built game plans from week to week and designed things for opponents. This year, WVU worries about itself and getting better at what it does. What the defense will do in game seven is what it did in game one, except that things should be better now than they were then.

And that is why Gibson will use Saturday's game to measure how far his team has come from the worst experience of his career.

"No doubt," he said. "This will be when we see where we're at. If we go out and execute and play hard and just don't blow any assignments to give, we'll have a good idea of who we are and what we are as a defense."

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers, Bears armed with comeback experience http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/DM03/141019285 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/DM03/141019285 Thu, 16 Oct 2014 21:35:33 -0400 By Chuck McGill MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The clock ticked as Baylor running back Shock Linwood rushed for three yards. The Bears were down 21 points to a top-10 team, and just more than 11 minutes remained.

No problem.

"Someone told us the odds of us winning at that point was something like 1.9 percent," Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango said, "so we that we decided we wanted to take those odds."

The Bears scored on its final four possessions - three touchdowns and a field goal - to defeat TCU, 61-58, last Saturday after trailing 58-37 with 11:38 left of the fourth quarter. Baylor's offense piled up 228 yards on 14 plays on the final four drives - an average of 16.3 yards per snap.

West Virginia doesn't need reminded that No. 4 Baylor can score quickly. The Bears have averaged 68 points in two previous meetings against the Mountaineers, and have 19 touchdowns against two punts in those eight quarters of football.

If WVU (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) needs a comeback this Saturday (noon, Fox Sports 1) when it hosts Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), it has confidence that it can be done. On the same day the Bears erased a three-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers scored 17 unanswered points in the final period to beat Texas Tech, 37-34, on the road. The Red Raiders led 34-20 with 7:32 left.

"What we did against Texas Tech they did against Baylor," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They were down 21 points and found a way to be able to come back."

Baylor faced a 21-point deficit during its last trip to Morgantown and scored twice to trim the deficit to one score. WVU answered with a one-play, 87-yard drive on a pass from Geno Smith to Stedman Bailey.

If the Mountaineers are going to get over the hump against top five teams - WVU has lost to No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Oklahoma this season - it'll need to come up with answers and stops. If WVU doesn't have enough of the former or latter early, the experience gained in last week's come-from-behind win from Texas Tech should give the team confidence that it isn't over until the clock is at all zeroes.

"Just believing that you can win more than anything," Holgorsen said. "You've got to have kids that are experienced that believe that they can win. You better have a tight team that sticks together when they're down. They clearly have a tight team with all the games they've been able to win.

"I can't say enough about our coaches and players. We had a great halftime, we were down 21-10, made a lot of adjustments, motivated, challenged each other. Nobody gave up, everybody stuck together and found a way to win there at the end."

After Baylor trailed by three touchdowns against TCU, it had scoring drives of four plays for 45 yards, five plays for 92 yards and five plays for 91 yards to tie the game at 58-58. Meanwhile, the TCU offense had 18 plays for 53 yards on three drives that didn't muster a point.

"It's just amazing to me the team that we have," Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. "I was going up and down the sideline like 'Hey guys, we got this' and they would look at me like 'Yeah, I know.'

"It's just confidence, that I got your back, you got my back, we've been through worse. It was just a matter of time before things started picking up."

There should be plenty of opportunities for WVU and Baylor to mount a comeback in Saturday's game at a sold out Milan Puskar Stadium. The teams have combined for 248 points, 35 touchdowns and 11 punts in two meetings since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.

The ability to whittle away at a deficit is a combination of experience and maturity.

"You can't really teach experience or read it in a book," Petty said. "You just have to live it. So for us, that was living proof that we can come back literally from anything."

West Virginia has won two games on last-second field goals, once after it frittered away a lead, another after it defied odds and erased a big deficit. Both wins came on the road.

"In years past, games past, they would've been done," Holgorsen said of his team. "Maturity is big."

Baylor is favored by 7.5 points Saturday. WVU won 70-63 on the Bears' last trip to Morgantown, while Baylor rolled to a 73-42 win last season.

"It is hard to predict games, especially in this league when you look at how good defenses are getting," Petty said. "I really do not think it was a lack of defense. I think you would be crazy if you said that. It is more or less the talent in the league right now is pretty outstanding.

"Road games are funky, especially in Morgantown. It will just be good to get out of there with a win, and that is what we are going to try and do."

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WVU BASKETBALL: Improved Williams at center of Gold-Blue Debut http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/DM03/141019289 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141016/DM03/141019289 Thu, 16 Oct 2014 21:24:10 -0400 By MIKE CASAZZA

DAILY MAIL SPORTSWRITER

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. ­- There will be plenty to observe and admire when West Virginia unveils its men's basketball team Friday night. The Mountaineers will showcase seven first-year players at the Gold-Blue Debut at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum, and the ones who are back from last season's NIT team have added weight, muscle, speed or skill that could make them look or act a little different.

The man literally in the middle of the event that will feature a 30-minute scrimmage will be Devin Williams. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound sophomore tied Kansas center Joel Embiid, the third overall pick in last year's NBA draft, for the most double-doubles by a Big 12 freshman last season.

Williams dedicated the offseason to working on his low post offense and his upper body. He spent time with former WVU All-American Kevin Jones and borrowed Jones' tips to take little things and create a big gap between opponents.

"He's been so much better," said WVU coach Bob Huggins, who's had his team for a little less than two weeks of practice and still has more than two weeks to go before the Nov. 9 exhibition against Shepherd. "It's really night and day right now how much better he's been."

Williams, from Cincinnati, averaged 8.4 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds last season and started 31 of 33 games. He had eight double-doubles, which was the fifth-best total in the Big 12, and one each in the final three games of the regular season.

But Williams played with a weight on his chest last season. He suffers from asthma and typically takes boring, though necessary Nebulizer treatments before activities and before bed to make sure he can breathe. When he needs it, he takes a puff or two from an inhaler, which, like the Nebulizer, is supposed to open up his airways and make breathing less of a burden.

Only two WVU freshmen had ever had more double-doubles in a season, so by most accounts his first season was a success. But it was a struggle, too.

"It was difficult," Williams said. "We do our warmup drills before practice and we really get into it, and then we'd go full-court as hard as we can. That kind of bothered me. It bothered my breathing."

What Williams was working with was really no different than a teammate handling the ball with a bum wrist or an opponent cutting on a bad ankle. It was only a matter of time until he was overcome. The big man was breathing hard and laboring from point to point, which is less than ideal for the player WVU tried to rely on for rebounds on defense and touches close to the basket on offense.

"I couldn't make it to the first media timeout," he said. "I was usually trying to fight through it by then."

His father had asthma when he was younger and Williams' brothers outgrew it, too. Williams was different because it crept up on him later in life and saddled him when he was in high school. If he thought he had it under control helping Florida's Montverde Academy to the National High School Invitational championship, he learned otherwise with the Mountaineers.

Yet Huggins had to learn to live with it, too. Williams had good days and bad days, but the Mountaineers coach came to recognize the days were not predictable, which meant the team couldn't find a pattern for playing time and breaks to keep Williams fresh.

"If was different all the time," Huggins said. "We couldn't say that if he goes a certain amount of time it was going to hit him. It varies. I'm sure the weather and what the climate was like were factors and different things affected it, but it wasn't a predictable thing."

Huggins said Williams took time in the offseason to seek help from doctors. They thought allergies were an additional problem and that if Williams could manage his allergies, he might also have better control of his asthma.

Williams was a willing patient and has so far noticed a significant change.

"It's way better," he said. "It still gets to me here and there, but as far as where it was last year, it's way better. I run a whole lot better than last year. I last longer, too."

These Mountaineers intend to defend and rebound harder. If Huggins can find the right number and combination of players, they might press, too. WVU will rely less on the perimeter for offense with Eron Harris and Terry Henderson, last season's top 3-point shooters, sitting out as transfers at Michigan State and North Carolina State, respectively.

That turns the attention to the inside, where junior college transfer Jonathan Holton projects to be a player who scores off rebounds and by making himself available to teammates. That's also where WVU hopes Williams emerges as a quick and easy access to a score when the offense needs one.

"I think Devin has made tremendous progress in that area," Huggins said. "I think he scores the ball so much better around the basket. It's nice when you can throw it close and kind of stop the bleeding, so to speak, when people are making runs. I think Dev can do that for us." 

Whatever the tactic, no matter what end of the court, endurance is a significant part of WVU's plan. If Huggins is wary of one or the other now, it's not because he doubts Williams.

"He's been great," Huggins said. "I think he's probably learned to deal with it better. It hasn't been noticeable the way it was a year ago. It stuck out like a sore thumb a year ago."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Bradley has ties to Baylor star, coaching staff http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019461 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019461 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:19:58 -0400 By Chuck McGill MORGANTOWN - Tom Bradley and Shawn Oakman were once on the same side at Penn State.

Bradley, the West Virginia University football assistant, and Oakman, a star defensive end for Baylor, will be on opposite sidelines this Saturday when the Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) host the No. 4 Bears (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) at noon (Fox Sports 1).

Oakman is a 6-foot-9, 280-pound junior who is tied for 18th in the FBS in sacks (five) and nearly half of his tackles have been for a loss (8 of 17).

"I know Shawn well," Bradley said Tuesday. "We recruited Shawn out of high school, redshirted him as a freshman. I got to see him a lot on the scout team, what he did. No question we thought Shawn would be a great player. We knew his athleticism."

Oakman was a four-star prospect out of Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa. He signed with Penn State, but left after the 2011 season. Now he is being talked about as a potential first-round NFL draft pick.

"He's a guy, I know he's tall and all, but he's a very athletic person," Bradley said. "We were excited that we got him. Am I surprised about where he is? Not really. He's always been a hard worker and a good football player and had good instincts.

"He's catching up now, putting on weight and I'm happy for him."

Bradley's ties to Baylor aren't limited to Oakman.

Phil Bennett, Baylor's defensive coordinator, held the same role at the University of Pittsburgh for three seasons.

"We used to call each other late at night and commiserate," Bradley said.

Brian Norwood is the safeties coach for the Bears, a position he held for seven seasons at Penn State while Bradley was the defensive coordinator. Bradley remembers Norwood's son, Levi, as a young child. Levi Norwood is a senior receiver for Baylor.

Baylor's defensive line coach, Chris Achuff, was a graduate assistant at Penn State in 2002 and 2003.

"It's going to be fun to say hello to those guys," Bradley said.

* * *

BAYLOR IS ninth nationally in sacks with 21, although nine of those came in the season opener against Southern Methodist. The Bears have six sacks in three Big 12 games.

"They're going to zero blitz you," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. "Oklahoma didn't zero blitz you, they just had two guys who charged upfield. Baylor is different. They're one of the leaders in the country in sacks."

A zero blitz is when the defense sends one more defender on a blitz than the offense can block.

"It's the most complete rush we've seen because not only do you have two ends that rush, but you have two thick guys inside that rush, and then they bring 'backers in the middle and through the B gaps," Holgorsen said. "They're going to do anything they can to get to the quarterback."

* * *

BAYLOR SENIOR quarterback Bryce Petty is 13th nationally at 306.8 passing yards per game. He has 1,534 yards and 15 touchdowns against three interceptions. Last season, he finished with 4,200 yards and a 32-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting.

"He's big, he's fast, he's strong, he's smart," Holgorsen said of Petty. "He runs their offense the way it's supposed to be run."

ESPN's Mel Kiper ranks Petty as the 12th-best NFL draft prospect and the top overall senior quarterback in college football.

Petty isn't the only reason the Baylor offense ranks No. 1 out of 128 FBS programs in total offense, though. He has weapons.

"Probably as deep of a receiving corps as I've seen in college football," Holgorsen said.

* * *

BAYLOR IS college football's top scoring team with the No. 1 offense, but the first series hasn't been automatic for the Bears.

Still, WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson believes that first series is crucial for the Mountaineers.

"Something's got to give on that first series," Gibson said. "It's just one series, but you'd like to start the game off by getting them off the field."

The Bears scored on the first series of their first three games of the season, but since Big 12 play began Baylor has been held scoreless on the first offensive possession of each game. In fact, last week against TCU, Baylor didn't score on its first four possessions, starting with a turnover on downs. The Bears then fumbled the ball away and punted twice before finally cracking the Horned Frogs' defense.

Baylor finished with 20 possessions against TCU.

WVU hasn't allowed a touchdown on the first possession all season. Alabama kicked a field goal after a seven-play, 45-yard drive. Since then, the Mountaineers have forced four punts and intercepted a pass on the opposing team's first offensive possession of the game.

Overall, the West Virginia defense is allowing an average of 23.2 yards per first possession and 0.5 points.

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Mike Casazza: Depth not an issue for WVU men http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019468 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019468 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:14:58 -0400 KANSAS CITY - Two things about this West Virginia basketball team are hard to ignore and important to highlight.

First is the roster. For the past two seasons, Bob Huggins spoke continually and correctly about how hard it is to coach the game, never mind coach his game, with first-year players who are new to the Division I level.

That's not groundbreaking, but that was never his point. Coaches can survive and succeed with a few first-year players, and talent makes everything come easier. Huggins was dealing with a lot of first-year players and they were not all the talented types who make things come easier.

These Mountaineers have two players who sat out last season, two freshmen and three junior college transfers. That's seven first-year players. Huggins will have 12 players at his disposal with it looking more likely now that senior forward Kevin Noreen's various surgeries that will keep him out until January will also keep him from being much of a factor at all.

Seven is a big number. Eight is a bigger number, and in the 2012-13 season, Huggins had eight first-year players. That team, perhaps improbably, won 19 games and made the NCAA Tournament, but could thank seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant and junior Deniz Kilicli for much of that. Still, between the lines or behind the podium after a loss, you sensed that was not one of the coach's favorite teams.

A year later, WVU had six first-year players. Those Mountaineers went 13-19 and were the worst team Huggins had coached. When that season was over, three of the first-year players from the year before and two from that season were gone before they ran out of eligibility.

Last season, WVU had four freshmen play and had a freshman and a junior college player sit out because they were ineligible. The team went 17-16 and lost in the NIT, then lost two of the first-year players from the year before.

You see the trend and you understand the concern this season. The Mountaineers have the Big 12's best player in Juwan Staten, who was a problematic first-year player Huggins had to bench for a game in 2013, and some second-year players who must play better than WVU's second-season players have in the past, because seven is a big number.

But there's the second part about this team that's hard to ignore and important to highlight: Huggins really likes these Mountaineers, and his reasoning is sound and supported by his Big 12 peers who have been through the same.

"Sometimes it's harder to coach guys who have been around - sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes - because the things you have to do are very boring to them because they've done them before," Huggins said here Wednesday at Big 12 media day, giving you plenty of room to interpret that and recent defections however you choose.

"I think the challenge sometimes is to keep things as exciting as you can for those guys. When you have new guys like we have, everything is new and kind of exciting and they're kind of trying to listen to make sure they understand what they're doing so they don't embarrass themselves. And honestly, they've just brought so much more enthusiasm."

What's familiar to Huggins is common around the Big 12, a conference that not only recruits at a very high level and calls upon both junior and major college transfers to help, but also sees a wealth of underclassmen leave early and create openings that have to be filled sooner than planned.

The vacancies Huggins has been made to deal with are for very different reasons, but they exist, and the need to have a new player be an impact player is the same.

"The biggest thing for me is understanding you need patience with them and understanding it does take time," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "What you work on is how you approach the game mentally and how you play with aggression and not whether you run this play right. Their heads are spinning, but I want them to play hard. Don't let me tell you you're not playing hard."

The Mountaineers are a handful of practices into the season and the first exhibition isn't until Nov. 9. They aren't always running the motion offense properly, but they make their mistakes with effort and energy.

"The thing we do like about them is they're all very willing to learn," Huggins said.

In a sport where no two teams are the same, that matters.

"Some of these coaches run real tough systems, so you have to be cerebral to fit the offense," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "If you can't remember plays, you can't play. It's tough for any coach if you don't have a basketball IQ so you don't disrupt the flow of things.

"A lot of times they're coming in after being the best player on their team and things were geared around them. How quickly they're willing to adjust to being a good teammate and a good player who understands the physicality and the intensity of the Big 12 is important."

Early on, BillyDee Williams wasn't playing as hard or as fast as fellow junior college transfer Tarik Phillip. That's no longer the case, and Huggins said Williams has also become the team's best shooter. He's pushed himself to make those changes, which leads to a hidden benefit in this scenario.

Huggins has to play a lot of the first-year players. Starting spots and major roles are out there for someone to grab. If one player isn't going to take it, he has to know another player will. WVU couldn't use playing time as a consequence last season.

"It's hard to make them accountable when you don't have the numbers," Huggins said. "It's hard when you look down the bench and you're kind of void of guys you can put in the game. Now we're not."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU BASKETBALL: Huggins breaks out bow tie for Media Day http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019483 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019483 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 17:12:31 -0400 By Mike Casazza KANSAS CITY - A year ago at the Big 12's basketball media day, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins turned the stage into a catwalk. He showed off a dark blue cardigan sweater with a gold Flying WV on the left side. He answered questions about his ensemble by telling reporters they were jealous and perhaps listless.

"It gives you something to write about," he said.

Huggins sent fingers flying again inside the Sprint Center on Wednesday. He wore a dark blue three-piece suit and a bow tie adorned with miniature Flying WVs.

"A tribute to our president," Huggins said, referencing E. Gordon Gee, who wears a bow tie to his job like Huggins wears a pullover to his. "It just kind of seemed like the right thing to do. And I'd kind of like to keep you guessing. I don't want people to think they've figured me out yet.

"I appreciate you being concerned about my wardrobe, though."

* * *

A MORE FAMILIAR look here has Kansas as the preseason favorite to win the conference. The Jayhawks were voted No. 1 by the coaches in the preseason poll again and they've had or shared that spot for six straight years and eight of the past nine. Since the Big 12 started in 1996, Kansas has been the preseason pick 15 times and no worse than third.

Of course, Kansas has followed through and won at least a share of the Big 12 title the past 10 years, but it's rarely ever obvious in the fall. Kansas and Oklahoma State tied for preseason No. 1 last season and Kansas and Texas A&M shared first in 2011-12. The Jayhawks were more than 10 points better than the second-place team just one time in the past six years, including this year's four-point cushion over Texas.

Kansas had six first-place votes and the Longhorns had three. Oklahoma had one and was only 11 points behind Kansas.

"The appearance is that there are going to be a lot of good teams in our league," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. "Last year our league was fabulous. It was arguably the best league in America, and statistically it was the best league in America. This year I've seen a lot of the preseason publications, and a lot of them have five teams that are preseason top 25 teams, but to me, that really doesn't mean anything either. ... There are multiple teams that would have a legitimate shot at winning our league this year."

* * *

SELF SHARED an update on a unique dynamic between him and Huggins. The WVU coach earned a $25,000 incentive for beating Kansas in the regular-season finale last season. Self said before the game he wasn't bothered by the contract clause and that he and Huggins are good friends.

"I'm going to do everything I can to keep money out of his pocket, and if I don't, I know who's buying dinner," he told the Daily Mail.

Self said Wednesday that Huggins has not picked up a check.

"He's too tight," Self said. "Tell him that."

* * *

THE NCAA USHERED in new rules last season designed to eliminate the contact between a defensive player and the opponent with the ball. The goal was "ease of movement" and higher-scoring games. The concern was different and fans and media repulsed at the idea of lengthy free-throw shooting contests.

Curtis Shaw, a retired official and now the Big 12's coordinator of officiating, said the NCAA got it right.

"We ended up freeing up the basketball game, allowing our teams and our athletes to play basketball, to get in their motion, to get in their systems, and we got the results we wanted," he said. "The results were not necessarily more shots a game, but better shots a game. We didn't allow them to get physically beat up. They could get open looks, and it helped the basketball game. Scoring went up a little over five points a game, and the fouls only increased by about two a game."

Shaw said the emphasis will now shift to granting the same freedom to players moving without the ball, but also post play.

"We found out that 65 percent of the fouls called in the post against the defense were because we missed the first foul against the offense," Shaw said. "We were allowing offensive post players to come down the floor, blow the defender off the blocks, get an illegal post-up possession and then hold them off that post-up position. Then when the defender would come over the top, come back to where he needed to be, we would get them for a foul. So we realized we were penalizing the wrong person."

The major change this season, though, will be how officials interpret blocks and charges. A year ago, the NCAA introduced the three-foot restricted area under the basket, which Shaw said could be extended to four feet next year, when a rule change is permissible. A defender also had to be in position when the offensive player made an upward motion with the ball to pass or shoot.

Shaw said it was too subjective and then too confusing.

"We have tried for three or four years to figure out the terminology on the block/charge that makes it teachable for a coach to his defenders and makes it a play the referees can do," he said. "Last year we butchered it. What we intended to do in June got changed in September and got altered in November. By Jan. 1, I could watch film and couldn't tell you if it was right or wrong."

To simplify it, a defender now has to be set before the offensive player leaves his feet to shoot or pass, which takes away the ambiguous upward motion with the ball. It no longer matters whether it's the primary defender or a help defender. The defender can only move to jump straight up to contest the shot.

"Makes it easy for referees," Shaw said. "It's also made it easier with our coaches because they can now teach their defenders, 'If you can't get there and be still before you leave the ground, don't try to because you're going to get a blocking foul. Go up vertically, defend the rim, but don't try to draw a charge.'

"So the intent of the rule for safety, the intent of the rule for not allowing our great athletes to be up in the air and get undercut, this will make it easier to get the play right. If they get a blocking foul or two, they tend to quit helping out. They'll get there legally, they'll go up and they'll defend the rim."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Defensive line depth will be tested against Baylor http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019494 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141015/DM03/141019494 Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:29:42 -0400 By Chuck McGill MORGANTOWN - Something perplexed West Virginia University defensive coordinator Tony Gibson when he watched film of Baylor's offense.

"Sometimes, I don't know how they do it, they don't even look to the sideline and they go tempo and they run three or four plays in a row," he said. "I don't know how the hell they're doing that. Nobody even looks to get a signal."

No. 4 Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) is the best in college football at scoring points (first in FBS at 52.7 per game) and the best at gaining yards (first in total offense at 622.5 yards per game), but also the best at running plays. The Bears average 90.2 offensive plays per game, tops among 128 major college programs.

That means that West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) will have a taxing assignment this Saturday (noon, Fox Sports 1). The Mountaineers will need defensive players to keep up with the Bears' frenetic offensive pace.

That'll be an especially big challenge for WVU's defensive line, which didn't have nose guard Christian Brown (violation of team rules) and defensive end Dontrill Hyman (knee injury) against Texas Tech. That forced coaches to remove the redshirt from Darrien Howard, who played nine snaps in his debut.

"We should have probably played Darrien a little more," Gibson said.

Kyle Rose, a 6-foot-4, 294-pound junior, typically splits snaps with Brown, but was forced to play significant snaps against Texas Tech last Saturday. His performance sagged early.

"You could tell he was trying to save up to get through that game," Gibson said. "He knew we were going to play a lot of snaps."

Rose played the first 22 snaps of the game before Howard finally made his season debut.

"I think Kyle hadn't been used to it," said Tom Bradley, WVU's defensive line coach. "We had a good rotation going. Kyle, maybe in the back of his mind, paced himself early, but he sure didn't at the end.

"When a guy plays 75 (plays) every game, he builds up to that," Bradley added. "Kyle had only been playing about 35 a game. I noticed him at practice (Monday), he was a little more sluggish. He's getting banged every play; it's a tiring position."

Baylor won't provide any respite.

In last Saturday's 61-58 come-from-behind win against TCU, the Bears piled up 782 yards of total offense on 109 plays. The offense held the ball for 28 minutes and 43 seconds, so the Bears' offense was averaging a play every 15.8 seconds.

Baylor finished with 20 offensive possessions in the 60-minute game.

"We're going to play a lot of guys," Gibson said. "We need to keep guys fresh against this offense."

The return of Brown and Hyman could provide a boost to the depth upfront, but as of Tuesday their status was uncertain. The team wouldn't have to lean so heavily on Howard, a sophomore who didn't come to WVU as a lineman.

"He came in here as a linebacker, so sometimes some of the things he does well are what he used to do at linebacker," Bradley said. "He has a real knack of knowing where the football is. Obviously, he has to get a little bigger."

WVU coach Dana Holgorsen would like to see more out of senior defensive end Shaq Riddick, a 6-6, 242-pound transfer from Gardner-Webb. West Virginia is No. 107 of 128 FBS teams in sacks with eight, and Riddick has just one in six games. That sack came against FCS-member Towson.

"I'm not prepared to say he's got things figured out," Holgorsen said. "He's got one sack in six games. He came here to sack the quarterback, and we put him in a role where he has to play more because of our lack of depth along the defensive line.

"He's going to get better. He needs to get to the quarterback more. He knows that. He needs to work hard on the technique and the motor he has to play with to get to the quarterback more often."

Riddick is prepared for what the Baylor offense is going to bring. If anything, he'll have plenty of opportunities to do what Holgorsen brought him to West Virginia to do when Baylor flirts with triple-digit offensive snaps.

"I like being on the field," Riddick said. "I want to play every defensive snap that I possibly can. We've got a good group of defensive ends that we're confident can come in and make plays."

Gibson said, ideally, he'd have eight players to rotate along the three-man front. Bradley said that number will suffice against Baylor.

"Especially with these types of teams, the fast-paced teams," Bradley said, "we've got to get people in there and make substitutions."

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WVU FOOTBALL: Worley cherishes return after two-game absence http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/DM03/141019535 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/DM03/141019535 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 22:58:28 -0400 By Chuck McGill MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Exactly one month after Daryl Worley was involved in a nightclub altercation with a woman that led to a two-game absence from the West Virginia University football program, he sat in the team room of the Puskar Center and talked to the media.

There was a time when he didn't think he'd be allowed to plop down in that chair and talk football anymore, that he wouldn't be able to join his teammates against No. 4 Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) this Saturday (noon, Fox Sports 1).

"I cherish it," the sophomore cornerback said Tuesday afternoon in his first session with the media since last week's reinstatement. "When I made my apology to the team, I told them that. There was a possibility I could've lost everything. It kind of brings tears to my eyes when I sit back and think about it, but I'm just blessed to have another opportunity because I know a lot of people don't get two."

Worley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault last week stemming from his involvement in a Sept. 14 altercation. He missed Big 12 games against Oklahoma and Kansas during the legal process, but returned last Saturday to make six tackles (one for a loss) in a 37-34 win at Texas Tech.

There was a bit of rust to knock off, he said.

"I wasn't where I left off and that's just something I've got to continue to work every day to get better, hopefully better than where I left off," he said. "If anything it was the conditioning, the stamina, just staying on top of my game.

"I felt like in the beginning of the game I wasn't playing with the level of confidence I left the Maryland game with."

Worley's return solidifies the back end of the WVU defense just in time for the arrival of the nation's top offense. Baylor is first among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schools with 622.5 yards per game. The Bears are first in average plays per game (90.2), so WVU's depth will be tested.

Worley's first opponent upon his return, Texas Tech, ranks in the top 15 nationally in passing. Baylor is fifth, one spot ahead of West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12), and averages 9.3 yards per pass attempt.

"I like to be thrown in the fire like that," Worley said. "It's a lot of speed. You've got to stay on top of everything. You've got to know where to have your eyes. If you're looking in the wrong spot, it can hurt you."

It's a challenge he relishes, and opportunity he cherishes.

"I certainly let down everyone involved, from the coaches to everyone involved in this program, everyone that has any association with West Virginia," he said. "I feel I let them down. I apologize for that because it was a bad decision on my part."

* * *

Baylor is the third WVU opponent this season that is ranked in the top five at the time of the game.

"We've been in this situation before," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said Tuesday afternoon.

The Mountaineers lost to second-ranked Alabama, 33-23, in the season opener and then-No. 4 Oklahoma, 45-33, in the Big 12 opener.

"We've got more on the horizon," Holgorsen said.

It's true. After this Saturday's game against fourth-ranked Baylor, the Mountaineers will travel to play No. 15 Oklahoma State the next Saturday and host No. 12 TCU the Saturday after that.

A Thursday night game against No. 14 Kansas State looms Nov. 20.

West Virginia has lost four consecutive games to nationally ranked opponents and seven of eight overall.

"The third top five, let's try winning one of these at some point," Holgorsen said. "Yes we've competed and played and been in these games ... let's practice a little harder, let's play a little better, let's be a little bit more motivated so when we have a chance to win a game like this in the fourth quarter, we need to win it.

"I think we're getting better at that; we're getting closer to being able to achieve that."

* * *

Baylor has averaged 68 points per game in two Big 12 meetings with West Virginia, although the teams split those contests.

The Bears average an FBS-best 52.7 points per game - nearly five full points better than Marshall's 47.8 - and have the top overall offense.

Baylor, however, is ranked No. 10 in total defense (303.5 yards per game). The Bears are ninth nationally with 21 sacks. They're the only FBS program ranked in the top 10 in total offense and total defense.

"Everybody wants to talk about Baylor and Coach (Art) Briles and their offense and their success," Holgorsen said. "They're scoring at a very high rate, they're scoring quickly, they're putting a ton of points on the board, they're the No. 1 offense in the country.

"The biggest thing that I see with their team is what they're doing defensively. That, to me, is the difference in what Baylor is now and what they've been in the past couple of years."

The Mountaineers have averaged 56 points per game against Baylor in two Big 12 meetings, including a 70-63 win in Morgantown in 2012.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Baylor's Goodley happy to have his father back in his life http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/DM03/141019537 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141014/DM03/141019537 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 22:53:54 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When the Baylor Bears finally cleared the field at their home stadium last season, a 73-42 thumping of West Virginia now complete, the players and the coaches began to talk.

Only then did it all make sense.

"We didn't know it had happened until after the game," linebacker Bryce Hager said. "Someone said it to someone else and then it just spread by word of mouth. But it was definitely awesome for him to play the way he played that night."

Though it was still early in a season then just four games old, the Bears understood that receiver Antwan Goodley was on his way to a special season. He was a fourth-year junior and the Bears knew how hard he worked off the field so he could make things so easy on it.

He was 5-foor-11, but stout and strong at 220 pounds. The power at the point, the speed in space, the ease in accessing explosiveness were bound to produce big plays and bigger games. He was going to be next in line after Terrance Williams, Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon before him left Baylor to star in the NFL.

Catching seven passes for 170 yards and touchdown against the Mountaineers wasn't a shock, but there was something different that night.

He'd set career highs for catches and yards, superlatives that wouldn't last long in a season that ended with 71 receptions for 1,339 yards and 13 scores, but there was another first that explained it all.

Antwan Goodley Sr. was in the stands. The receiver's father was released from prison earlier that week after serving nine years for a drug charge. His father, who earned a scholarship offer from Texas A&M at the same high school where Antwan Jr. was a football, basketball and track star, had never seen him play before.

"He probably got to see me play flag football once or twice, but junior high and high school, he never got to see me play," Antwan Jr. said. "Not having him around was hard, but with him finally getting to see me play, that's what I always wanted, just to look up in the stands and see him there."

He hasn't slowed since, though a quad injury kept him out of two games and without a catch for the first three this season. He has 18 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns for No. 4 Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), which plays WVU (4-2, 2-1) at noon Saturday at Mountaineer Field. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.

The two remained in contact while Antwan Sr. was behind bars. Antwan Jr. didn't see his dad often in that time, but his mother arranged regular phone calls so the two could stay in touch and grow up together from a distance.

"I never shut him out of my life," Antwan Jr. said. "I always had a good heart toward him."

Antwan Jr. learned during the offseason before his junior year his father would be released early in the coming season, and he knew his life was about to change. But life had already changed and there was something exciting about sharing that with someone he'd welcome into the mix.

Antwan Jr. had turned himself into an All-America receiver bound to take the path the other receivers had traveled to the NFL. And he had a son he was trying to be there for and to provide for, someone who would soon get to know his grandfather.

The 5-year-old's name? Antwan III.

Antwan Sr. would make the four-hour trip from the federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, in the Gulf Coast that week. A few hours before the Bears kicked off against the Mountaineers, he went to the hotel where the team is sequestered the night before a game and said hello to his son.

It had been years since they'd seen one another.

"I really can't even explain it," Antwan Jr. said. "I didn't know what to say, but once I saw him, it actually was like he wasn't even gone for so long."

They spent just a few minutes together before the Bears were shuttled along to the stadium. Antwan Sr. said he was sorry he didn't get to see his son play sooner. Antwan Jr. told his dad not to worry and that he was happy to have him there that night.

Their other face-to-face visits had been brief as well, but Antwan Jr. knew this one was different.

He could see his dad again soon.

"I wanted to put on a show for my dad and the first time he'd seen me play," he said. "In the back of my mind, I knew he was there, but I stayed focused. I had to take care of business, but it was kind of hard because he had never been there before."

There was plenty to talk about after the game. Antwan Jr. scored on a 61-touchdown on the third play from scrimmage. He added a 30-yard catch before the first quarter was over and a 43-yard catch in the second quarter. The Bears led 56-14 at halftime and Goodley didn't play in the second half.

They met again after the game and talked very little about what had happened in those four quarters, choosing instead to begin to make up for all those years apart. Antwan Sr. lives in Dallas now, sends his son some money every week and cheers for every catch.

"I never faulted him for things," Antwan Jr. said. "I always wanted to try to give him a chance, and he's been doing a great job. It's great having him a part of my life."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers evolved into 'run-first' team http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141013/DM03/141019732 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141013/DM03/141019732 Mon, 13 Oct 2014 16:07:08 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN - The first time West Virginia has ever had a pair of 100-yard rushers and 100-yard receivers in the same game was also the first time the Mountaineers saw Texas Tech's defense do what it tried to do.

"It was a different scheme when they first came out on the field," inside receiver Jordan Thompson said. "A completely different scheme."

What WVU did not expect was really just another rendition of what they've experienced against other teams determined not to lose to wide receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford.

"They were trying to take Kevin and Mario out of the game, and by doing that, by doubling both of them, it was basically all 1-on-1 matchups inside," Thompson said. "Throughout all the film, they didn't show any of that. It was something different and we had to make adjustments."

Thompson was one such adjustment and the junior had the best day of his career with six catches for 109 yards and a 56-yard touchdown. That was one of many good and bad consequences of a defense that stretched outside to cover White and Alford.

Alford had only two catches for 24 yards and White had what he called a "quiet" game with 123 yards on 13 receptions. Quarterback Clint Trickett threw one deep pass to Alford that was incomplete and threw two to White. One was initially ruled pass interference before officials picked up the flag. The other was a 26-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Yet the Mountaineers were happy to hand the ball off 47 times for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Wendell Smallwood finished with 123 yards and a touchdown and Rushel Shell added 110 yards and two scores.

Coacn Dana Holgorsen called the Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) a "run-first team" Monday.

"That's just who we are," Holgorsen said. "We have two great wideouts, two phenomenal wideouts, so they were going to put safeties back. They were going to play cover 2, which means we've got to run the ball regardless of what set we're in.

"I was a little frustrated in the first half with not getting more out of the run game, but we didn't abandon it. We stuck with it."

No one understands the balancing act better in the Big 12 than No. 4 Baylor, which visits Mountaineer Field for a noon game Saturday on Fox Sports 1.

The Bears (6-0, 3-0) are renowned for their passing attack, keyed by Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Petty at quarterback and a fleet of fast receivers Holgorsen said is probably the deepest he's ever seen.Yet the Bears lead the Big 12 in rushing and did so the past two seasons.

They scored the final 24 points in the fourth quarter last week against TCU to steal a 61-58 win and ran 13 times for 114 yard on the final 22 plays. TCU was guarding against deep passes, but eventually gave up a few, including two touchdowns, because Baylor ran it so well.

"What they do is not tricky," Holgorsen said. "They're going to pound you up front and run the ball, and when you put too many people down there they'll go over top of you to extremely good skill guys."

WVU has been similarly reliant on the run late in games, too. Down 34-20 with 7:32 to go Saturday, the Red Raiders played back and Smallwood ran for 48 yards on three consecutive plays, including a 17-yard play on third-and-4. Shell gained a yard and Trickett misfired before connecting with White in a rare 1-on-1 matchup for a 26-yard touchdown.

"I think it's a lot on us whenever defenses are playing us like that," Dawson said. "It's hard not to get impatient. You want big plays, you want chunk plays, but when they're sitting there playing off you, you better be good at taking 6- and 7-yard gains and methodically moving the ball down the field until they start moving up."

After forcing a punt, WVU threw four straight times, including a 7-yard gain by Thompson and a 23-yard gain by inside receiver Daikiel Shorts, to move to the Texas Tech 6 and then ran the final four times to tie the score. Following another punt, the Red Raiders were cautious on defense.

Smallwood ran twice for 12 yards, including a third-down conversion. After a pair of completions to an isolated Thompson in the middle of the field, Smallwood carried from the Red Raiders 46 and gained 8 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.

In last month's win at Maryland, the Mountaineers ran the first four times against a cautious defense on the game-winning field goal drive and later twice more for 12 yards. The runs accounted for 28 yards on the 65-yard drive, and the big play was a 17-yard pass across the open middle to Shorts.

"I think if you look at Dana's background and my background, obviously it's a pass-happy background, but that's really not what we've evolved to," Dawson said. "We've evolved to the point where we feel extremely comfortable handing the ball off. If that's what they're going to give us, we're good with that. We're not in this to throw it 70 times a game. We want to try to win the game."

n n n

HOLGORSEN SAID sophomore nose guard Christian Brown missed the Texas Tech game because of a violation of team rules, but that "I anticipate him being back fairly quickly." Holgorsen added defensive end Dontrill Hyman, who started the first four games and has missed the past two with a knee injury, "should probably be ready to go this week."

n n n

WVU'S OCT. 25 game at No. 15 Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-0) will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on one of the ABC/ESPN stations, a decision that will be made next week.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Gibson's call for more pressure helped Mountaineer defense http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141012/DM03/141019772 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141012/DM03/141019772 Sun, 12 Oct 2014 22:23:56 -0400 By Mike Casazza LUBBOCK, Texas - Tony Gibson has been spending his time wisely, and West Virginia's defensive coordinator made wise decisions when it mattered most Saturday against Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders had the football at their 30-yard line with 2:03 remaining and the score tied. Gibson had his defense blitz on the next six plays and called the same blitz five times. It forced Texas Tech to punt the ball and set up the game-winning drive that ended with Josh Lambert's 55-yard field goal.

That blitz Gibson used again and again in the 37-34 win was new to his call sheet and designed to get after an offense that allowed just four sacks on 239 pass attempts in the first five games.

"I was looking at them just break film down last week, and on Monday I'm sitting there and thought, 'You know what? Nobody ever gets to them with outside pressure. We've got to make sure we get something in his face and let him see us," Gibson said.

So beginning on Tuesday, the Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) rehearsed a blitz that sent players through the middle. They didn't sack Davis Webb in that sequence, but they did everything else and hit him, hurried his throws and jumped to force difficult releases.

"We came from a lot of different angles and had people guessing," WVU middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski said. "They'd block one way and that gave us an opportunity to still hit the blitz from another angle. It was very effective."

Webb threw incomplete passes on the first two plays and then had to rush a throw over defenders on third down that arched dangerously into a crowd. It somehow fell into the lap of receiver Jakeem Grant, who was on the ground, for a first down at the Texas Tech 47.

"I thought, 'We're not meant to win this game if that kind of stuff happens,'" Gibson said.

He was undeterred and blitzed three more times, first dropping a run for a loss of a yard and then giving up a quick throw for 8 yards before forcing a throw that was on the receiver early and too high to snare.

"My mentality, I'm not going to play a prevent defense," Gibson said. "I'm going to get after him and make him execute under extreme pressure. I told them that going out there. 'Fellows, listen. We're not going to sit on our heels and let him pick us apart.'"

A plan five days old was complemented by a lineup change Gibson made two weeks ago. During the open week after the loss to Oklahoma, Gibson decided to move defensive end Shaq Riddick and Will linebacker Ed Muldrow into the starting lineup and made Brandon Golson, the starter at Will, a backup defensive end. Gibson had all three on the field on the final series against Texas Tech (2-4, 0-3).

Gibson's overall trust was as tested as it was rewarded, though. Trailing 27-20 in the middle of the fourth quarter, Texas Tech had a third-and-10 at its 31. The Mountaineers played a zone, which didn't happen often in the second half, and Justin Stockton ran for a 69-yard touchdown with 7:32 remaining.

WVU answered with a touchdown of its own on third-and-10 as quarterback Clint Trickett and receiver Kevin White connected on their only vertical pass of the day for a 26-yard touchdown. Texas Tech quickly faced a third-and-8 and Gibson played the zone defense again. safety Dayron Wilson stopped Stockton after a 3-yard gain.

"The first one, we didn't get our guy under the (offensive) tackle, but the next third down we stopped them," Gibson said. "They ran the same play. We ran the same call. I knew what they were doing. We didn't execute it the first time. We had two guys out of position. I saw it happen and knew we were in trouble."

WVU's success with blitzes and pressure was the theme of the second half, though. Webb was 14-for-18 for 218 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and the Mountaineers were having major issues covering Texas Tech's crossing routes. Webb, though, had time to let those routes develop and see his receivers create space

WVU adjusted its coverages and had a safety step forward to cut off those routes, but there were many more blitzes and a much more effective pass rush from a defensive line that played again without injured defensive end Dontrill Hyman and nose guard Christian Brown, who isn't injured, but didn't travel.

"I personally challenged our defense to get to the quarterback because he had hours of time to throw the ball in the first half. I challenged our guys, all of them," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I don't care who's in there, if it's blitzes, if it's a three-man rush. We've got to do a better job of getting there, and I thought we did a better job of getting there."

Webb was 14-for-28 for 133 yards in the second half, and his offense was 2-for-11 on third down. Webb and his head coach, former Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, said repeatedly after the game the receivers couldn't win one-on-one battles against WVU's defensive backs. That required time they didn't have.

"The biggest thing was the pressure on the defensive backs, the guys who have to cover," said Kwiatkoski, who had 13 tackles and two tackles for a loss. "As someone blitzing, you have to know in the back of your head that whenever you're blitzing, you have to get to the quarterback as quick as possible to take the stress off the defensive backs. The biggest thing we emphasized was getting to (Webb) fast to put less stress on them."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Lambert going to 'be a good one for years to come' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141012/DM03/141019775 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141012/DM03/141019775 Sun, 12 Oct 2014 21:50:37 -0400 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Surely Dana Holgorsen will start talking to Josh Lambert now.

"Who?" the West Virginia coach said following Saturday's win at Texas Tech.

Four weeks ago, the sophomore kicker missed a fourth-quarter field goal and then won the game for the Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) on the road at Maryland. Holgorsen joked afterward he doesn't talk to Lambert and hasn't since he arrived on campus two years ago because Lambert operates fine on his own.

Lambert missed again in the fourth quarter against the Red Raiders (2-4, 0-3), but won the game again with a career-best 55-yard kick as time expired for a 37-34 victory.

"I didn't say anything to him and I don't need to say anything to him," Holgorsen said. "I knew when he missed the one in the fourth quarter we were in great shape. I knew he was going to come back and drill one.

"Obviously, I know who Josh is. He is not rattled by any situation. He's going to be a good one for years to come."

After the win, Lambert posted a picture on Twitter of Holgorsen embracing him as they left the field and added the caption, "He finally talked to me!!!! Lol #Winning." It was his second game-winner this season and the third of his career (TCU last season). Three of WVU's last five wins have come on those kicks.

Lambert is already 14-for-19 this season. The school's single-season record for made field goals is 30 and the mark for field goal attempts is 35.

Saturday's kick made him 3-for-3 from 50 yards or longer this season after going 1-for-5 last season. More impressively, he's now 8-for-9 in his career on the attempt that follows a miss in the same game.

"You can't dwell on it and let it carry on to the next kick, otherwise it's going to follow you," he said. "You've got to brush it off."

* * *

WVU took a pencil to the record books. Lambert's winner matched Paul Woodside's school record from a game in 1984 against Louisville.

Kevin White's 26-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter started WVU's comeback in the fourth quarter and pushed him over 100 yards receiving for the day. He was briefly above it in the quarter before losing 3 yards on a screen pass on third down and dropping below 100 yards. White finished with 123 yards on 13 receptions, which matched a career high.

He has at least 100 yards in a school-record six consecutive games.

Quarterback Clint Trickett finished with 301 yards passing and has had at least 300 yards in seven straight games, which a school record.

White and receiver Jordan Thompson (109) topped 100 yards receiving and running backs Wendell Smallwood (career-high 123) and Rushel Shell (110) topped 100 yards rushing. Never before had the Mountaineers had two 100-yard receivers and two 100-yard rushers in the same game.

With 550 yards of total offense, WVU has 500 or more yards in a record five straight games.

* * *

Freshman quarterback William Crest traveled with the team, but for the second straight game was not in uniform. Though WVU has not said it is the eventual outcome, Crest remains eligible to apply for a medical redshirt as long as he doesn't play the rest of the season.

Defensive end Dontrill Hyman missed the game with a knee injury. Nose guard Christian Brown did not travel with the team and is not injured. Brown's absence left junior Kyle Rose as the only nose guard until the Mountaineers decided to bring Darrien Howard and play him against the Red Raiders.

The sophomore hadn't played all season and was on track to redshirt after playing only a few snaps last year. He sat out until the eighth game and played sparingly in just three of the final four games, and Holgorsen said in August it was a "shame" Howard played as a true freshman.

* * *

Cornerback Daryl Worley started in his first game back after missing two games while indefinitely suspended. Worley was arrested last month and charged with misdemeanor battery and pleaded no contest last week to misdemeanor assault.

Worley made three tackles and one tackle for a loss on the first series and finished with six tackles. Worley was also involved with safety Karl Joseph in a busted coverage on Devin Lauderdale's 76-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

"That wasn't on Daryl," defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "We had a safety who was supposed to be in that third (of the field) over him and he got lost with his eyes in the backfield. I thought Daryl played very well in his first game back, but he's that kind of guy. He just steps in and plays big."

For the first time this season, WVU was able to play Worley and Ishmael Banks together. Banks, who started all 12 games last season, was suspended by the NCAA for the first three games and started in place of Worley during his suspension. Banks didn't start, but played the majority of the game in place of starter Terrell Chestnut.

Worley also WVU's punt returner to start the game, though Jordan Thompson, who Worley replaced, would finish.

Worley was caught in a bad spot on a short punt in the third quarter and had to hurry forward to make a catch. He was hit by a Texas Tech player, who was penalized for kick catch interference. Worley caught the next punt on a hop and fumbled the return, but was able to recover. Thompson was on the field for the final two punts.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Baylor game sold out http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141012/DM03/141019781 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141012/DM03/141019781 Sun, 12 Oct 2014 20:25:23 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia's home game against No. 4 Baylor at noon on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium is officially a sellout.

The Baylor game is Heart Health Awareness Day presented by WVU Healthcare.

Tickets remain for remaining home games against No. 12 TCU on Saturday, Nov. 1, and No. 14 Kansas State on Thursday, Nov. 20.

To order tickets for the remaining home games, fan visit WVUGAME.com or call 1-800-WVU GAME.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers cap wild comeback with Lambert's 55-yard game-winning FG http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141011/DM03/141019849 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141011/DM03/141019849 Sat, 11 Oct 2014 18:42:23 -0400 By Mike Casazza LUBBOCK, Texas - West Virginia hung around long enough Saturday to add some intrigue to a game that didn't seem headed toward the ending it would enjoy. The Mountaineers trailed 14-3 in the first quarter, 21-10 at halftime and 27-13 in the third, but managed to hold the ball down 27-20 early in the fourth.

Then the best thing happened to the team's comeback chances.

Josh Lambert missed a 47-yard field goal.

"I knew we were in great shape because I knew he would come back and drill one," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Holgorsen's faith would be shaken, but rewarded. The Mountaineers gave up another touchdown, but scored the final 17 points of the game as Lambert did indeed drill a 55-yard field goal as time expired to beat Texas Tech, 37-34, before 58,502 at Jones AT&T Stadium.

It was the longest kick of the sophomore's career, the third game-winner of his career and the second this season and further proof of a resiliency that explains the team's hands-off management style: Lambert is 8-for-9 in his career on the field goal attempt that follows a miss earlier in the game.

"You can't dwell on it and let it carry on over to the next kick, otherwise it's going to follow you," said the Garland, Texas, native who had his aunt, uncle and a few cousins in the stands. "You've got to brush it off."

The kick capped a frantic finish that saw WVU score 17 points and force two punts in the final 7:32. The Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) seemed headed toward a third straight loss in the series when Justin Stockton's 69-yard touchdown run put the Red Raiders (2-4, 0-3) up 34-20.

"We've shown pretty much all season that our guys keep fighting," WVU offensive line coach Ron Crook said. "They keep fighting and they play to the end. We don't do everything perfect. We make things hard sometimes. But our guys keep fighting to the end, and as long as we keep doing that, we've got a chance to win a lot of football games."

Clint Trickett threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Kevin White and Rushel Shell scored on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal on back-to-back drives. Texas Tech's final drive stalled with an incomplete pass on third-and-3 at WVU's 46-yard line, and Wendell Smallwood had 20 yards rushing and Jordan Thompson had 22 yards receiving to account for all the yards on the game-winning drive that began with 52 seconds to go.

"When we tied it up, I knew we were going to win it," said Thompson, who caught a 56-yard touchdown in the third quarter to awake the offense that had one touchdown in the first 43 minutes. "The momentum shifted. The fans were out of it because they felt the momentum shift, too. All we had to do was get one more stop, and the defense did a tremendous job, a great job stopping them. Then Josh kicked it."

Trickett was 28-for-44 for 310 yards and two touchdowns, and he has at least 300 yards passing in seven straight games.

Smallwood had a career-high 123 yards rushing - his previous best was 62 yards last season - on 15 carries, and Shell added 110 yards and two scores. He's scored in each of the past five games.

The Mountaineers had 249 yards rushing on 50 attempts, with 26 carries and 141 yards coming after halftime. The running backs, an H-back and an inside receiver combined to carry the ball 47 times and had one negative-yardage play - a 1-yard loss.

"We adjusted a couple things here and there, but it wasn't anything major that we changed," Crook said. "Guys went out and just played better in the second half. The first half was a lot of feeling things out. They're a good football team. They're well-coached and you could see that in every aspect of the game.

"What our guys were able to do was stay with the game play, stay with the things we were coaching that they believe in and finally it started to click a little better."

White's touchdown with 5:55 remaining was his last catch of the day and equaled his career-high with 13 receptions. He had 126 yards, his school-record sixth straight game with at least 100 yards receiving. Thompson set career highs with six catches for 109 yards, and the touchdown was the second of the season and of his career.

It was the first time in school history the Mountaineers had a pair of 100-yard rushers and 100-yard receivers in a game.

The Red Raiders are 0-3 in league play for the first time since the conference started in 1996. They've lost eight straight Big 12 games - the last win was at WVU last season - and are 1-9 in the past 10 against teams from high visibility conferences.

For the first time in 14 games, they didn't lose the turnover battle and matched WVU's lost fumble with an interception, but the most penalized team in the nation added 12 more flags for another 115 yards.

Davis Webb completed 28 of 46 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns, but that followed a torrid first half, where he was 14-for-18 for 215 yards and three scores. Devin Lauderdale caught 34- and 76-yard touchdowns in the first quarter, but finished with three catches for 112 yards. Jakeem Grant had five receptions for 84 yards and a 43-yard touchdown to put Texas Tech ahead 21-10 before halftime.

The WVU defense started the second half with a turnover on downs. The Mountaineers forced four punts after halftime and allow the long touchdown run and two field goals, but they did well to keep the Red Raiders out of the end zone.

The first field goal drive had a first-and-goal at the 4, but WVU dropped a run for a loss and stopped a pass for no gain on third down to force a 21-yard field goal. The second began when Trickett was sacked and a lost a fumble at his 29, and a defensive holding penalty gave Texas Tech first-and-goal at the 9. A run gained one yard, but WVU stopped the next two passes and accepted a 26-yard field goal.

From there, the comeback began.

"I just didn't talk to anybody, to be honest with you," Holgorsen said. "I figured I was coaching hard, I was talking, I was motivating, I was encouraging, I was yelling, and it was not working. So I just shut up and I let the coaches coach and the players play."

WVU finally cracked the Texas Tech defense that double-teamed White and wide receiver Mario Alford, who didn't catch a pass until the third quarter and finished with two receptions for 24 yards. Thompson saw a seam in a zone defense and caught a pass behind two defenders. Before that, WVU's longest play of the game was a 24-yard catch by White.

"Before the snap, I saw I was going to score," Thompson said. "I had one man to beat, and I beat him and Clint threw the ball perfectly to me to catch. It was easy. I just had to catch it. It was as simple as that."

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY: Shell suddenly a factor late in games http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141011/DM03/141019870 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141011/DM03/141019870 Sat, 11 Oct 2014 01:39:27 -0400 By Mike Casazza LUBBOCK, Texas - Rushel Shell had his first 100-yard rushing game for West Virginia last week and the sophomore running back marked his fifth game with the Mountaineers by scoring a touchdown in a fourth consecutive contest.

The most significant outcome in the win against Kansas?

"It was the first game he really finished," running backs coach JaJuan Seider said. "He's been nicked up a little bit in the second half of these games, but that was the first game he got to finish and play all four quarters."

This has the potential to be a great big deal for the Mountaineers, about as big as getting the former five-start recruit to transfer to WVU from Pitt.

"He's the type of kid who gets stronger as the game goes on," Seider said. "He may start slow until he gets his feet up underneath him, but that's why you like a back like him. In the fourth quarter, you can continually hand the ball off to him because he's going to continue to pick up chunks of yardage. Some of his longest runs were in the second half. He brings that to the table."

In 66 carries in the first four games, Shell had one run of 20 yards or more. On his 19th carry against Kansas, he rambled through a cavern on the right side of the field for 28 yards.

Put the pieces together there.

He carried only 10 times against Alabama and wasn't needed for long or when it was late against Towson. He was injured in the fourth quarter against Maryland, when he carried 27 times for 98 yards, and yielded the field to Andrew Buie, Dreamius Smith and Dustin Garrison.

Against Oklahoma, a team that got a lead against WVU and made the Mountaineers pass, Shell carried five times in the second half and three times in the fourth quarter.

The fact Shell lasted four quarters and finished with his strongest run of the season wasn't lost on the Mountaineers. They want to run the ball in the space created by their offense and the receivers who stretch the field. They want to rotate in two or three other running backs so no one gets tired, but also so Shell is fresh and frothing late in the game.

"It's hard to sit here and say, 'Yeah, we're going to ride him out the whole game,'" offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "That's not going to happen. We've got enough backs that we don't need to do that, but I do think he gets stronger as the game goes on. We're making a steady push for him to start faster - I don't think he started fast (against Kansas) with the speed we want him to play with - but he gets stronger and faster as the game progresses."

That's a cooperative effort and they all knew it was going to take time. The coaching staff would need to wrap their headsets around the rotation of running backs, and not merely who to play, but how to spot when one was hot and one was not. Shell, who sat out and gained a good bit of bad weight last season, needed time to get into game shape and familiarize himself again with the speed of the college game.

Add to that the fact he was in a spread offense after playing in the confined spaces in the very different Pitt offense.

But the Mountaineers believe it's happening for Shell now. They all know the next part is up to him.

Again and again now, Shell is one step, one shake, one second away from not only breaking out a big run, but stringing together those big runs.

"I feel like that's part of my game I've got to display to show everyone I can break that 50-yarder, that 60-yarder," he said. "There are times I'm one-on-one and it's up to me miss and I break at the wrong time. The chances are there. I've just got to capitalize on them."

What WVU has done to establish Kevin White and Mario Alford as passing threats and Clint Trickett as something of a gunslinger who's going to throw it to anyone anywhere on the field, Shell is going to have openings and opportunities to get loose and to find himself isolated against a lonesome linebacker or a solitary safety.

That part is done for him by the work of others. The rest is on his shoulder pads and his slim 4.4 yards per carry.

"You do drills," Seider said. "We always work drills when we're in the box and we've got to beat the safety because we know we're going to see that every week where you've got an outside lane and you've got to jump-cut back inside or you get pressed inside and you've got to outrun someone to the corner. We work on that drill at least once a week for that situation.

"It's not just these guys this year. We had the same thing with Charles (Sims) last year. How many times did he have 99 yards if he made the safety miss? For the most part, we are, but it's the other scraping safety. Once you slow down enough to make that guy a factor, he catches up to you."

Shell may find his foil Saturday. The Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) travel to Texas Tech for a noon game on Fox Sports 1 at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders (2-3, 0-3) have a porous defense and rank No. 117 in scoring defense, No. 110 in total defense and, most importantly, No. 121 against the run. They've allowed 34 runs of at least 10 yards this season.

"If you go watch the film, Rushel's shaking more guys in open space than probably anybody on our team," Seider said. "I think he's got it all, and now he's starting to get to the point where he knows when he needs to finish a run by running a guy over, but also knowing when he's got space and he's got time and he can make a move.

"The thing that I want to see him from game five to game six improve is that area, to understand, 'When the back end is open, I can't dance. When the back end is filled and I've got an extra blocker back there, I can do diff things in the backfield and spring those runs.'"

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MOUNTAINEER GAMEDAY: Numbers & Nuggets http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141011/DM03/141019871 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141011/DM03/141019871 Sat, 11 Oct 2014 01:37:35 -0400 By Chuck McGill 3 - WVU is favored by 6 points, depending on the source, over Texas Tech this weekend. It is the third-largest road spread in which the Mountaineers have been favored by since Dana Holgorsen took over as head coach. That may not be good. In 2011, the Mountaineers were favored by 14 at Syracuse and lost 49-23. Last season, West Virginia was favored by 6.5 points at Kansas and lost 31-19.

4 - There are four teams from Texas in the Big 12, and WVU plays two at home and two on the road each season. So far, the Mountaineers have had split success in the Longhorn State. In 2012, WVU beat Texas and lost to Texas Tech. Last season, West Virginia lost to Baylor but took down TCU. This is WVU's first visit to Texas this season. The Mountaineers play at Texas on Nov. 8.

5 - WVU senior quarterback Clint Trickett has topped 300 yards passing in five consecutive games this season. Trickett had 365 yards in the season opener against Alabama, and then 348, 511, 376 and 302 in games since. It's a feat so difficult, not even Geno Smith pulled it off at WVU within one regular season. Trickett is third nationally averaging 380.4 yards passing per game.

6 - It has been a while since WVU has started the season by winning its first two true road games. The last time it happened: 2007. The Mountaineers, coached by Rich Rodriguez, won at Marshall and at Maryland in its first two true road games that season. The program hasn't repeated the feat in six years since, but wins at Maryland at this Saturday at Texas Tech would halt the skid.

8 - If WVU wins in Texas, it'll be the eighth victory for the program in the state. That will break a three-way tie for the Mountaineers' program. WVU has won seven times in Texas, Florida and Kentucky. That is tied for 11th among states (plus Washington D.C.) in which WVU has played, trailing the nine all-time wins in North Carolina.

10 - Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb is 10th nationally in passing yards per game, which isn't surprised considering the connection to Dana Holgorsen. Webb is coached by Kliff Kingsbury, who was Texas Tech's QB when Holgorsen was an assistant there. Webb trails WVU's Trickett in passing yardage and completions, but has attempted more passes (225 to 210) and has more touchdowns (16 to 10) and interceptions (10 to 4).

10-plus - The Red Raiders and Mountaineers are two of the best in college football at moving the chains. Texas Tech has had 99 plays of 10 or more yards, while WVU has had 98. It goes beyond that, though. On plays that go at least 20 yards, WVU has 31 and Texas Tech 23. West Virginia also has three plays of 50-plus yards this season after having only two all of last season.

17 - West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole isn't getting a ton of work this season - only 17 punts through five games - but he has been effective. His average of 42.88 yards per punt wouldn't rank among the top 40 nationally, but more than half of his punts (9 of 17) have been downed inside the 20, while zero punts have tumbled into the end zone for a touchback.

200 - After last week's defensive dominance, the Mountaineers have now held two opponents to fewer than 200 yards of total offense. That's a first in the Holgorsen era at WVU. The last time West Virginia pulled off the feat was 2010, when Coastal Carolina (186 yards) and Louisville (171) yards failed to generate 200 yards of total offense against the Mountaineers.

433 - That is the number of plays from scrimmage for WVU's offense this season, significant not because of the quantity but the balance. The Mountaineers have rushed the ball 217 times and thrown it 216 times for nearly perfect symmetry between the run and pass game. The Mountaineers' number of plays rank No. 1 nationally among teams that have only played five games.

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MARSHALL FOOTBALL: Herd expects physical game with Middle Tennessee http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM03/141009178 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM03/141009178 Thu, 9 Oct 2014 22:49:47 -0400 By Derek Redd HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall's football team has been raining blows on opponents through its first five games with little retaliation. The Thundering Herd's 31.8-point average margin of victory is the second best behind Baylor in the Football Bowl Subdivision. And when Marshall opened its Conference USA schedule last Saturday at Old Dominion, it jumped to a 28-point lead less than 10 minutes into the game.

The Herd is anxious to line up at noon Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium against homecoming opponent Middle Tennessee (Fox Sports Net). From what the players have seen on film, the Blue Raiders might be able not only to take a punch, but also counter.

"Those are the type of games you look forward to," offensive tackle Clint Van Horn said. "You hate when people lay down early. We know these guys are too well-coached, care too much and play too hard to quit. I don't think they're going to quit."

The Herd (5-0, 1-0 C-USA) and Blue Raiders (4-2, 3-0) traded haymakers until the very end in last season's clash in Murfreesboro, Tenn. MT pulled that one out with a 13-play, 79-yard drive that ended with Logan Kilgore's 9-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres Jefferson with no time left on the clock. The Blue Raiders won, 51-49, in a game that included 1,033 yards of total offense.

"It was one ... and I would say this, even if we'd have lost ... it was one of the best games I've ever been a part of in my coaching career," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said.

Marshall's players likely wouldn't agree. It snapped a two-game winning streak and gave the Herd the only blemish on its conference record. And that blemish was enough to rob Marshall of home-field advantage for the C-USA title game.

The Herd won five straight after that Middle Tennessee loss and earned the C-USA East Division crown, but ended up tied with West Division champ Rice for the best conference record. C-USA's tiebreaker formula put the title game in Houston, Texas, and Marshall lost to the Owls, 41-24.

"I think, after that game, our kids grew up a little bit," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. "It was a tough loss. They were a better team that particular day and they were a better football team than what we were. We lost the game because of it. Our kids took it personal and, from that point on, we have been a solid football team."

Marshall hasn't won a game this season by fewer than 15 points. Its largest margin of victory came last week in the Herd's 56-14 pummeling of ODU. In that game, Marshall's defense held quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who has thrown for more than 13,000 yards in his career, to just 85 passing yards. The Herd's offense battered the Monarchs for 354 rushing yards.

The Herd doesn't think it will be so easy Saturday. Holliday admitted the Blue Raiders beat Marshall physically last season. They'll come to Huntington featuring a power running game that ranks second behind the Herd in C-USA in rushing yards per game (224.7). And, like the Herd, Middle Tennessee employs pressing man-to-man coverage in the secondary. Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg said MT will throw that coverage at opponents in several forms.

Defensive end Ra'Shawde Myers said the players know they're in for a battle.

"They want to knock you off the ball," Myers said. "They want to impose their will on you. We know that, so we've just got to put up a fight."

That physical style has led to longer injury lists for both teams. The Herd was without receiver Davonte Allen for the ODU game and watched guard Blake Brooks, defensive end Gary Thompson and linebacker Evan McKelvey limp off the field during that game. Holliday wouldn't offer specifics, but said some players could miss time.

Middle Tennessee lost offensive linemen Adam Stickel and David Adams, running back Shane Tucker and corner Jamarcus Howard to injury during the Blue Raiders win over Southern Mississippi. They already were playing without corner Khari Burke and offensive lineman Daniel Stephens.

That won't deter Marshall from playing the way that has kept it undefeated to this point. The Herd players don't expect Middle Tennessee to shy away from it, either, and that's fine with them.

"I love competition," Leggett said. "That's what makes the game fun. I like to go out there and get the best competition level possible. I look forward to going out there and competing with those guys."

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at derek.redd@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.

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WVU FOOTBALL: Trickett, Mountaineers prepared for the wind at Texas Tech http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM03/141009179 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM03/141009179 Thu, 9 Oct 2014 22:41:57 -0400 By Mike Casazza LUBBOCK, Texas - One reason Clint Tricket has played so well this season is because the West Virginia quarterback watches a lot of film to prepare for anything the opponent offers.

Trickett's success in Saturday's game at Texas Tech might have to do with what he learned from one film.

"I was watching White Men Can't Jump the other day and there's that part about shooting with the wind up and how it pushes it 6 to 8 inches to the right or left," Trickett said. "It's the same thing."

The Mountaineers could find themselves in the windiest place in the Big 12 when they kick off at noon inside Jones AT&T Stadium (Fox Sports 1). It's out of WVU's control, but if it happens it requires WVU to take care of its offense.

"You play with it," Trickett said. "You've got to know when it's with you and when it's against you, but you're still playing ball."

Wind is unpredictable, but it's common in the Big 12's venues. It was windy when the Mountaineers (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) played host to Kansas last week, and Trickett still managed a sixth consecutive 300-yard passing game. It was windy in Kansas last season when the Mountaineers lost 31-19 and the Jayhawks passed for just 61 yards.

Oklahoma State has a wind farm not far from its Stillwater campus and its most revered graduate, T. Boone Pickens, had an ambitious plan he later abandoned to make America more dependent on wind than oil for energy.

One of the first things WVU learned about the Big 12, thanks in large part to its head coach who was a Texas Tech assistant for eight seasons, was how windy Lubbock can be. It's home to the American Wind Power Center and Museum. Two years ago, a bank of stadium lights had to be replaced because of the damage wind did to the tower.

And three years ago, the Mountaineers came completely unraveled on a sunny afternoon when the wind was blowing at 20 mph at kickoff and never eased up in Texas Tech's 49-14 win.

"There were a lot of other issues going on in that game other than that," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said this week. "It dang sure didn't affect them, because they threw for about 500 yards and had 49 points. Last year at Kansas, that wind affected how you called it. Two years ago at Texas Tech, it did not." 

After that game, though, the story was different. Tommy Tuberville, who was the Red Raiders coach at the time, said the wind played into his defense's plan.

"Going in we were going to make him throw it deep," he said. "That ball kind of fizzles in the wind on deep balls."

WVU's Geno Smith was 29-for-55 for 275 yards with a season-low passer rating and the second-fewest yards per attempt. The longest pass play was a short throw to Tavon Austin that turned into a 39-yard gain. Nothing else topped 20 yards.

Afterward, Smith said wind wasn't a factor and "anyone that says that doesn't know football at all." Trouble was, his coach believed it was a problem.

"We got receivers opened down field. Geno let the wind affect him," Holgorsen said after the loss. "I've played around here for eight years, and it wasn't any windier today. It's a nuisance, but if you let that be an excuse, it's going to mess with you and I think it did."

The Mountaineers lost Stedman Bailey to an ankle injury during the game, which robbed Smith of his main downfield threat. That affected Smith's numbers, but Holgorsen repeated this week the presence of the wind further complicated matters.

That's the issue to consider, especially with Trickett's reliance on deep passes to Kevin White, who leads the nation in receiving yards and is tied for the lead in plays of 25 yards or more, and Mario Alford. If there is wind and it's in Trickett's face or at his back, he has to understand how to handle it and, more importantly, how to keep it from becoming a deciding factor.

"I have to adjust to it, and that's kind of a thing you do on the fly," he said. "If I'm in my throwing motion and I feel something pick up, I've got to adjust to it."

Trickett missed last year's game at Kansas, where the wind would at times top 30 miles per hour. His backup, Paul Millard, couldn't throw the vertical passes during the quarters it went into the wind. It was then when the Mountaineers saw the Jayhawks tightly cover the short routes. The game plan changed, though Holgorsen said that's rarely happened in his career.

Should it happen again and WVU can't push deep balls into the wind or calibrate them properly with the wind, handoffs aren't a bad option.

Texas Tech ranks worse than No. 110 nationally in scoring defense, total defense and rush defense. Opponents have passed the ball on 33 percent of its snaps, the third-lowest percentage in the nation and the result of giving up 5.3 yards per carry and 279.5 yards per game, the fourth-highest average in the country.

Still, it's the sort of thing the Mountaineers can only think about and won't talk about until it happens - if it happens.

"I just think you have to experience it, and I think Clint is at the point now where he has experienced that atmosphere," Holgorsen said. "After that game, Geno was very comfortable at Oklahoma State with the same wind. He was very comfortable at Iowa State with the same wind, so he learned from it and became better.

"I think Clint is at a point now where he has experienced it. Paul has experienced it. They've been there, done that. I don't think it will affect us one bit. If it affects us, and it changes what we call, it's going to affect Texas Tech and affect what they call. It's the only way you can look at it."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

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WVU BASKETBALL: Mountaineers picked to finish sixth in Big 12 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM03/141009199 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141009/DM03/141009199 Thu, 9 Oct 2014 19:39:32 -0400

FROM STAFF REPORTS

IRVING, TEXAS - The West Virginia University men's basketball team, which finished sixth in the Big 12 last season, was picked to finish sixth again by the league's coaches.

Kansas was once again the choice to win the regular season conference title. Three squads - KU, Texas and Oklahoma - received first-place votes, but the Jayhawks were the preseason favorite for the 13th time in conference history.

The Mountaineers will be led by the league's leading scorer last year, Juwan Staten, who averaged 18.1 points per game and led the conference in minutes played per game (37.30).

Texas was picked a close second as it seeks to end the Jayhawks run of 10 straight outright or shared Big 12 regular season crowns.

The Longhorns return every starter from last season's NCAA Tournament squad, including four players who averaged 11 points or more.

Oklahoma was picked third, with the Sooners and Longhorns both earning their highest preseason ranking since being picked in the same spots in 2009-10.

K-State and Iowa State were next at fourth and fifth, respectively. Both teams have three starters back from squads that appeared in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Baylor and West Virginia tied for sixth, followed by Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech rounding out the poll. Three of the five teams in the bottom half of the poll played in the postseason a year ago.

The Big 12 season gets underway on Friday, Nov. 14 with nine schools in action. Big 12 conference competition starts on Saturday, Jan. 3 with four league games.

The Big 12 will hold its preseason media day on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at Sprint Center in Kansas City - site of the 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. Live coverage will be available at Big12Sports.com.

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