By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
For the third consecutive game, linebacker Nick Kwiatkowski from Bethel Park, Pa., led West Virginia University in tackles with nine as the Mountaineers defeated Georgia State, 41-7, Saturday afternoon.
Kwiatkowski is a converted safety who grew into linebacker size and who has developed into a special player.
“He is only a redshirt sophomore and is as healthy as he has ever been,” said coach Dana Holgorsen. “He is a smart guy and is allowing himself to be coached. There is a mental aspect to the game of football that you have to be able to understand, and right now he understands it.”
But it is more than just that.
“He has worked his body into phenomenal shape,” Holgorsen added.
There are almost no complaints coming from anywhere about him.
Ask defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Keith Patterson.
“He is one of those guys who does everything you ask him to do, and he doesn’t deviate from it,” Patterson said. “I’ve been very pleased with his approach every single day. What you see from him on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is what you are going to see on Saturday.”
Because of that, he is fully prepared each game and plays maybe just a step faster than those around him.
“It’s his confidence. He understands the system. When you play with confidence, you play fast. Last year he didn’t have the reps to go out there and feel 100 percent confident. This year he does.”
• Three players were not dressed for the Georgia State game. Backup cornerback KJ Dillon was out with a knee. Linebacker Doug Rigg was kept out as precaution after suffering a concussion the previous week, and tight end Garrett Hope was out with an unannounced injury.
To fill in for Hope as a backup tight end, Russell Haughton-James was moved from backup right guard to tight end.
• The 23rd induction ceremonies were held for the WVU Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday. Inducted were Dale Blaney (men’s basketball), Olivia Bradley (women’s basketball), Linda Burdette-Good (gymnastics), Dr. Ed Etzel (rifle), Dean Morrison (wrestling), Paul Popovich (men’s basketball/baseball) and Tom Woodeshick (football).
• Five players started for the first time for WVU – Mario Alford, Ronald Carswell, Ford Childress, Daryl Worley and Kevin White. … Childress’ 359 passing yards were a record for a freshman quarterback at WVU, breaking the mark of 257 set on Nov. 24, 2000, by Scott McBrien in a loss to Pitt.