WVU 48, Villanova 21: Three Things We Learned

Frank AhrensSenior Writer IAugust 31, 2008

What did we learn from the Mountaineers’ convincing win over the Wildcats on Saturday?  Three main things.

A) Pat White is a polished passer

Against a scrappy I-AA team.  The offensive line gave him plenty of time to throw, his receivers got open, and Joe Montana couldn’t have put those passes more on the spot.  We will see how he continues to develop against tougher defenses.

B) All hail Jeff Mullen

Fans didn’t see everything the transplanted Wake Forest offensive coordinator has put in place, but what they saw, they liked.  The second touchdown pass to Alric Arnett was a perfect pro play-action.

White has always been adept at the ball-fake—how often have you seen him fake out a TV cameraman?  On this play, he faked the handoff perfectly, forcing the safeties to bite on the run and allowing Arnett to run right by his single cover man.  Five offensive touchdowns, all through the air.

Trivia: When was the last time WVU won without scoring a rushing touchdown?  Our friend Mark DeVault at WVUStats.com answers: the 2005 victory over East Carolina.

C) The defense needs work

First, let’s point out that it gave up only two meaningful touchdowns.  It also forced and recovered a fumble and ran back an interception for a touchdown.  The big plays were nice.  But a I-AA team (scrappy as it may be) still got 399 yards of total offense.

Villanova averaged only 2.7 yards per run—good—but 7.2 yards per pass—not so good, and more than WVU’s six yards per pass.  Villanova’s offense was designed to keep WVU off the field, and it did, winning the time of possession.

Don’t worry too much about Villanova outgaining WVU—WVU got all the yards it could when it was on the field.  McAfee only punted twice.

Worry about WVU giving up 399 yards to a highly unambitious—and that’s not an insult—offense that was content to chew up yards and clock in five- and seven-yard chunks.  They never went for the home run but just kept moving the chains.  That’s something WVU needs to work to stop.

Other observations

- Cornerback/punt returner Ellis Lankster is going to return one for a touchdown this year.  Either an interception or a punt.  Or both.

- Pat McAfee’s punting is getting better and better.

- Mortty Ivy got a nice start on the monster season I have predicted for him.

- With his 6'4" height, long and muscular frame, and dreadlocks flowing out of the back of his helmet—not to mention his nasty demeanor toward opposing ball carriers—freshman safety Robert Sands looks like the Predator from the excellent Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

- It’s just a hunch, but I don’t think Reed Williams is going to see a field this year.

- Don’t worry about Noel Devine getting only 47 yards.  He only had nine carries—it’s still a 5.2 per yard average.  Wait until teams realize they can’t put eight or nine men at the line anymore.  Then fans will see a 200-yard game.

- Where’s Terence Kerns?  What does one have to do to get in coach Bill Stewart’s doghouse?  Kerns didn’t even dress.  At some point this season, Pat White will need a battering ram behind him.

- Will Johnson will be the most important non-running back, non-wide receiver offensive player since Mark Raugh.