Friday, September 16, 2011

WVU-Maryland Preview

The last time West Virginia played Maryland in College Park Rich Rod was still in town. Yes, it's been a while since the Mountaineers have been to Maryland, and it should be an atmosphere to remember. The Terps have had two weeks to get ready for this game, while WVU comes in after a somewhat lackluster performance against Norfolk State. Maryland is dealing with a few suspensions, but Randy Edsell will have his boys ready to jump all over WVU. It should be a fun battle that won't be resolved until the 4th quarter.


West Virginia
Rushing Offense: 72.0 ypg Rank: 109
Passing Offense: 340 ypg Rank: 15
Scoring Offense: 44.5 ppg Rank: 19

The statistics tell the story on the one-dimensional season so far. The blocking needs to improve, and the backs have to find some acceleration. Geno Smith has been solid, but a bit slow out of the gates in the first half. Look for some quick and conservative plays early-on to see if the Mountaineers can find a rhythm. If WVU does find success on the ground, it could be a long day for the Terps.

Rushing Offense: 151 ypg Rank: 61
Passing Offense: 348 ypg Rank: 12
Scoring Offense: 32 ppg Rank: 58

The Terps' first game was a success offensively. Davin Meggett ignited the ground attack, and Danny O'Brien did well in the passing game. The balanced offense will really test the young Mountaineer offense, as long as O'Brien limits mistakes, and keeps the completion percentage up. The offensive line is still a bit vulnerable against a good solid pass rush. WVU has a solid pass rush. O'Brien will need much more time than Maryland quarterbacks had last year. Look for the Terps to use the ground game as much as possible to slow the WVU front line down.


West Virginia
Rushing Defense: 80 ypg Rank: 24
Passing Defense: 156 ypg Rank: 25
Scoring Defense: 12.5 ppg Rank: 20

The numbers are good, and considering WVU hasn't allowed a defensive touchdown yet this year you'd think people in and around Morgantown would be ecstatic. However, it's more of a cautious optimism. While no touchdowns have been allowed, the Mountaineers have not forced a turnover and have only one sack. WVU has also struggled getting off the field. While the team has done well not breaking, the Mountaineers need more big plays. The pass rush dominated Maryland in 2010. Will this be the week it shows up in 2011?

Rushing Defense: 172 ypg Rank: 84
Passing Defense: 195 ypg Rank: 47
Scoring Defense: 24 ppg Rank: 62

The opportunistic defense will try to slow down WVU by any means necessary. Kenny Tate will be all over the field. The converted strong safety now plays the "star" linebacker position, and will be looking to keep WVU's ground game grounded. Maryland is susceptible to the big play, and could be it's ultimate downfall. West Virginia can be a quick-strike offense, and the Terps don't want a track meet. Look for Maryland to try to confuse Geno as much as possible, and look to turn the tides with a turnover or two.

Special Teams

West Virginia
Kickoff Returns: 37.8 ypr Rank: 4
Punt Returns: 18.0 ypr Rank: 11

Tavon Austin continues to be one of the best returners in the game. Already with one touchdown, Austin nearly got a second last week. The coverage has improved, with Cecil Level becoming a cult hero as the leader. Tyler Bitancurt missed a kick last week, but has been pretty good to start the season.

Kickoff Returns: 15.6 ypr Rank: 117
Punt Returns: 2.0 ypr Rank: 96

Hard to get a gauge on just one game for the return. Nick Ferarra made four kicks in the first game, missing one. Randy Edsell will always have a sound special teams' unit.


Any Mountaineer fan knows that Randy Edsell is a worthy adversary. He will also have a sense of what to expect from Jeff Casteel's defense. Both teams are also disciplined, and will go after it. Expect a close game early, especially if WVU continues the slow start. Maryland will have to block well to stay in the game. The Terps will be out of it early if WVU consistently gets to O'Brien. Look for the Mountaineers to try and pull away in the second half, and finally force a turnover or two with Maryland trying to keep up. This will be a hard fought one, with the Terps never giving up and getting back in it close, with possibly a chance to win late.

Prediction: 31-27 WVU