West Virginia Versus Liberty: What To Watch
Tim's Whims will be addressed weekly in one of the pregame pieces. A whim is a capricious turn of my mind. It's what you get when something just occurs to me and I act on it by publishing it on b/r.
I thought about calling it McGhee's Keys, but that sounds too presumptuous, like I'm an expert on the order of Lou Holtz. Or West Virginia's favorite, Mark May.
This week's Tim's Whims mostly involve the WVU offensive line. Here goes:
Watch the direction the Mountaineer o-line goes. On running plays, if they're basically moving forward early in the game, then I'm dead wrong about my 21-0 prediction and we're getting at least 49.
If the big men are moving backward on running plays or fighting to maintain, well...forward is preferred against an FCS team.
These observations sound simplistic, but they make sense to me.
Confusing blitzes commonly result from a 3-4 defensive lineup. Similar to West Virginia's 3-3-5 stack, the offense has no idea where the fourth man, or especially the fifth man, is coming from.
Run blitzes are common out of the 3-4. Notice how well the o-line and the tight end pick up the fifth defender. If the blockers handle the blitz consistently, the o-line is correct in their assessment of themselves. At this time, I'm wrong again and we may want to begin talking about beating East Carolina.
So, if the line goes forward and neutralizes Liberty's run blitzes, Saturday will be an interesting day for Noel Devine.
Same goes for the pass, except the o-linemen have to maintain and form the quarterback protection pocket. If on a pass you can count one-Mississippi four times before Jarrett Brown is hit or forced to run, he will find the 6'8" Wes Lyons against a 5'11" Flame cornerback all day. At that time, the Mountaineers will eat Liberty's lunch.
Trouble could ensue if Liberty d-backs somehow cover West Virginia's wideouts well. Jarrett may be forced to run to buy time.
If the line holds and releases for run blocking well when Jarrett is flushed out of the pocket, Liberty is toast because now they have to tackle a fast, quick, shifty quarterback who is 6'4" and weighs 220 and has a cannon for an arm. Good luck with that.
Watch Liberty's big man Asa Chapman lining up on the WVU redshirt freshman center Joey Madsen's head. You can't miss Asa. He's 6'5" and weighs 377 pounds. Joey's also rather obvious at 6'4" and 290.
If Liberty's linebackers are all over the field getting tackle after tackle, Asa is tying up two, maybe three Mountaineer o-linemen, therefore doing his job well.
If Noel Devine looks like he did against Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl, Joey is kicking Asa's rather large butt, as well as my skinny butt and the butt of my 21-0 prediction.
My high school coach used to say on a regular basis "Son, I'm from Missouri! You have to show me!" We knew he was from Glen Rogers up a holler from Mullens in Wyoming County, but the meaning was clear.
The o-line has to show me. If they do, I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong.
Until then, it's 21-0.
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