The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

October 2, 2009

HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gets back to basics

MORGANTOWN — They put away the bells and threw away the whistles Thursday night at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Gimmicks? Forget it.

It’s tough to throw a double pass when you are having trouble getting off a simple square out.


They replaced it with emotion.

Finally, the West Virginia University Mountaineers stopped trying to play football like a three-ring circus and played it like they are supposed to play it.

They kicked Colorado in the teeth with their running game and won, 35-24.

With players treating the football like it was greased pig at the county fair for the third straight game and with Colorado defenders tossing quarterback Jarrett Brown around like he was a rag doll when he went back pass, pinning him with 45 negative yards, the Mountaineers did what Mountaineers have always done.

They unfolded the old leather helmets out of the back pockets, put a wad of chewing tobacco in their mouth and decided to hit people.

All of a sudden Noel Devine ran like he was Avon Cobourne or Amos Zereoue or Quincy Wilson.

When they added it all up, the 77-yard touchdown run and the 56-yard burst, he had a career high 220 yards on the ground, but as impressive as those game-breakers were the 5- and 6-yard power runs he put forth play after play during a 14-play, 69-yard drive that carried over from the third quarter into the fourth and provided the game’s pivotal touchdown.

And, those of you who like that kind of football, here was the best part of it.

Ryan Clarke carried the ball five times for 22 yards and two touchdowns.

Ryan Clarke is a 236-pound fullback.

WVU really had no choice but to go retro with its offense. Jarrett Brown was not really sharp throwing the ball, missing a couple of sure touchdowns with overthrows, and was being harried so much on pass attempts that it became a matter of survival to have him give the ball to Devine.

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Bob Herzel
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