Monday, October 30, 2006

Key Match-ups

As noted by Matthew Zemek, there are several other matchups to consider besides WVU's running game and the front seven of Louisville. What should be most on the minds of Mountaineer fans is the match-up between the Louisville passing game and the secondary of WVU.

The other under-publicized matchup in this game — overshadowed by the WVU ground game's battle against UL's front seven — is the collision between Brian Brohm (and Mario Urrutia) against the Mountaineer secondary. If Louisville can set the pace in this game by racking up home-run pass plays against WVU's back line of defense, the scoreboard could force WVU to keep up in a track meet.

Louisville will most likely try to have a balanced offensive attack, and run the ball to set up the home run. What will be important for WVU, is to stop the Louisville running game, and make them one dimensional. I know, that's kind of like asking a wolf to bite you on the neck instead of the arm, but making a team pass the ball on almost every down can and usually lead to mistakes. Interceptions, holding calls, dropped balls leading to third and long situations all happen when you pass the ball too much. Brian Brohm is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, but even he can be rattled into making mistakes. He probably is about as healthy as he is going to be the rest of the year, so I expect to see his best game this Thursday.

Also of note is special teams. It seems that the punting job isn't all that secure for Louisville this year. West Virginia has been a pretty solid in special teams this year. Having returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown this year, while not letting opponents do the same. Pat McAfee has made all 37 extra point attempts, and 9 of 12 field goal attempts. Teams have returned 7 punts for 10 yards against the Mountaineers this year. Opposing teams have returned 31 kickoffs 536 yards for a 17 yard average. I'm not sure that number includes touch-backs.

Zemek is right about one thing. In big games, it's not always what your looking for that determines the game. Sometimes it's what you're not looking for that decides the game.

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