Sunday, August 31, 2008

What We Learned From The Villanova Game

My initial reaction to the game is up here. It seemed to me that the WV defense was very vanilla, but it also was not getting the job done. Villanova was able to move the ball between the twenties with great success. They had six drives that were 8 plays or longer. Four of those were 10 plays or more, eating up five minutes or longer each. In all, the Wildcats had the ball for almost 15 minutes longer that WV. They also outgained the Mountaineers 399-354.

To their credit, Villanova came out in formations that they had not shown before, and that quarterback, Antwan Young, is the real deal. His stats weren't incredible (17-33, 218, 0 td's, 2 int's), but he did a lot of things well. His offensive line (returning all five starters) gave him a lot of time and did a decent job in the running game.

On the flip side, I never got the feeling that West Virginia was trying to run the ball. I have to admit that the number of WR screens in the first part of the game made we want to make a dash to the liquor store. Villanova was stacking the line and expecting West Virginia to run the ball a lot and bubble screen on passing plays despite the new formations and pre-snap motion. When the Mountaineers started stretching the pass routes down field, White came alive. Even his 25-33 passing day doesn't tell the story of how well he threw the ball. I can think of two or three passes off the top off my head that bounced of receivers hands. It was the kind of game by White that should have a lot of defensive coordinators peeing in their pants. Because the funny thing is, as little commitment as West Virginia had toward the running game, they still came out with 6.8 yards per rush on the day.

Despite losing Darius Reynaud to the NFL, I think the receiving corps was improved. Arlic Arnett is going to be a star, and Jock Sanders filled the role left by Reynaud very well in the slot. We've been waiting for this for some time, but I think we can now say that we welcome defenses stacking the line, because there is a passing game that will hurt you. And if you blitz and miss, that White guy will be running crazy on you all day long.

Pirate week comes a little early this year, and those guys have all the confidence in the world after whooping the Hokies. It'll be a big test for West Virginia. A LOT BIGGER than what we thought before yesterday. Arrrr!


J.D. said...

Isn't that the trademark of WVU defense to bend and don't break though? We've been giving up yardage between the 20's for years now. Also I think Bill Stewart and Jeff Mullen have a huge sense of humor to run a screen pass on the first play.

Johnny said...

Hate to bring him up, but Rod talked a lot about the defense getting off the field in 2006. And when I saw how long Nova was able to hold on to the ball, it was a cause for concern.

I know nothing is ever as good or as bad as it first seems. We just don't have time to settle into the season like we've had in years past. ECU is for real and if we perform the same way this weekend it's going to be a long season.

Yeah, that is the MO of the defense. Just the level of competition shouldn't have been able to do that to the #8 team in the country.