Getting to Know the Enemy: West Virginia Mountaineers
After going 2-10 in 2009, the Maryland Terrapins are the last team you would expect to be mentioned post-season speculation. However after starting off the season (2-0) the Terps have already thrown their name into an unsettled ACC picture.
The Maryland Terrapins head to Morgantown, WV on Sept. 18th to play the No. 21 West VirginiaMountaineers at 12:00pm ET. The match-up is one of the longest non conference rivalries for Maryland. Both teams enter Saturday’s match up with (2-0) records, Maryland is (2-0) for the first time since the 2007 season. The Terrapins have not opened a season with a (3-0) record since 2000.
Similarly the West Virginia Mountaineers are attempting to start off the 2010 season (3-0) for the first time since, 2007; they beat Maryland 31-14 in College Park, Md.
Maryland edged out the Navy Midshipman in the “Crab Bowl” to open the season, 17-14. The Terps then went onto rout FCS Morgan State University 62-3, last Saturday.
The Mountaineer’s enter Saturday as Maryland’s toughest test of the 2010 season.
Head Coach: Bill Stewart
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The West Virginia Mountaineers are lead by head coach Bill Stewart. Stewart took over the coaching job after former head coach Rich Rodriguez bolted in 2007 for Michigan.
You cannot place the blame Coach Stewart for the recent struggles of West Virginia, Coach Stewart has done a great job at preparing his men week in and week out. The Mountaineers lost star running back Steve Slaton in 2007 and then lost the team's most prolific quarterback, Pat White in 2008.
Stewart has led the Mountaineers to a 21-8 record since taking over for Rodriguez in 2007. Coach Stewart is 2-1 in bowl games, with his most noteable win coming in 2007, when he led the Mountaineers to an upset over the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl.
For the second straight year, Coach Stewart has led the Mountaineers to a (2-0) start. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, 2010 has not been as smooth as a start Coach Stewart would have hoped for.
West Virginia sputtered out of the gate to get its offense going against Coastal Carolina and last week needed overtime to beat in-state rival Marshall.
There is no doubt that Coach Stewart will have his troops ready for the Terps after nearly laying an egg last week against West Virginia.
Quarterback: Geno Smith
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The sophomore out of Mirmar, Fl was given the starting job after senior quarterback Jarrett Brown graduated in 2009.
The transition for Smith to the starting role has been smooth so far for the Mountaineers.
In his first two games of the 2010 season, Geno Smith has combined for 532 yards and three touchdowns and a 72.2% completion percentage.
Gino Smith showed tremendous growth last week against Marshall, orchestrating two touchdown drives of more than 90 yards; the most impressive drive concluded at the end of the game, when Smith connected with Will Johnson for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left.
Smith than followed up the late game heroics with a two-point conversion to Jock Sanders to knot up the game at 21-21 and sent it into overtime.
Smith connected on 32 of 45 attempts and became the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards since Jarrett Brown accomplished the milestone against East Carolina in 2008; Smith ended the game with 312 yards.
Running Back: Noel Devine
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In the wake of Rodriguez's departure for Michignan, Noel Devine contemplated transferring from West Virginia. However, after Steve Slayton opted to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft; the starting job was estentially handed over to Devine and he has not looked back.
In his first two years as a starter for West Virginia, Devinehas anchored Mountaineer rushing attack, combing for 2,754 yards with 17 touchdowns.
The fleet-of-foot running back has gotten 2010 off to a fast start as well, combining for 223 yards with two touchdowns. Devine established himself as the predominate back for the Mountaineers.
Noel Devine earned the Big East player of the week nod for his performance in the 24-21 OT win over Marshall. The shifty running back combined for 174 all-purpose yards. Devine ran the ball 23 times for 112 yards had a career-high 10 receptions for 62 yards.
Devine played a pivital role in West Virginia's win over Marshall, Devine punched in 4-yard touchdown run to help cut Marshall's 21-6 lead to 21-13 in the forth quarter.
Wide Out: Jock Sanders
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Coming in at only 5' 8'', Jock Sanders like Noel Devine plays much bigger than what is listed on paper.
After reeling in 72 receptions in 2009, Sander’s has gotten off to another good start in 2010 picking up 13 receptions on 128 yards and a touchdown.
Sander's is looking to rebound in 2010 and improve his image after he was arrested in 2009 for a DUI in Morgantown.
Wide Out: Tavon Austin
After only catching 14 passes in 2009; Austin has already matched his 2009 total with 14 receptions on 175 yards.
Coming in at 5'9'' Austin is a very shifty wide out that could give Maryland's corners fits in open field.
Austin caught eight passes for 85 yards against Marshall.
Tight End: Will Johnson
The 6'2'' tight end has not been used a whole lot so far in 2010 nor throughout his four years at West Virginia. The senior tight end has only a total of 19 receptions.
Johnson will predominantly be used in blocking situations if he finds the field for the Mountaineers.West Virginia could still turn to the big man in the receiving corps in the red zone.
Outside Lineback: JT Thomas
The heart of the Mountaineer defense is back for the 2010 football season. A first-team Big East player in 2009, JT Thomas will give a very young and inexperienced Terrapin line fits Saturday.
Entering Saturdays game Thomas has compiled 11 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Safety: Robert Sands
After starting corner back Brandon Hogan was suspended Indefinitely for a DUI, the weight of the secondary has now been put onto safety Robert Sands back.
The hard hitting, ball hawk 6'5'' junior safety is a true difference maker for the Mountaineers. Robert Sands finished fifth on the team in tackles (65) with five interceptions in 2009. Sands saved his best for last when he racked up a career-high 13 tackles against Florida State in the Gator Bowl.