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October 2, 2011

Young Nehlen picks perfect day for first touchdown

MORGANTOWN — In a way, Ryan Nehlen could not have drawn the blueprint for his first touchdown as a West Virginia Mountaineer any better.

To begin with, the day was honoring his grandfather, the Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen, who has endowed a scholarship for quarterbacks at the school. To celebrate this, two dozen quarterback heroes from years gone by, from Hall of Famer Major Harris to future Hall of Famer Pat White, were on hand.

Then there was the opponent, Bowling Green, which was Don Nehlen’s alma mater, a school he quarterbacked oh so many years ago.

But this is a new generation of Nehlens, Ryan being the former University High wide receiver who stayed home to play at WVU. He was an invited walk-on, but one who wound up a serviceable player as a senior.

Coming into this game he was playing behind Ivan McCartney and had only one catch, but in the second quarter that all changed when quarterback Geno Smith hit him on a post pattern from 15 yards out for the score, not an easy one in that he had to take advantage of his leaping ability to make the play.

“Basically it was a Z-post. I stepped like I was going outside and then went inside of him and caught the ball,” Nehlen explained.

After catching the ball he threw his arms in the air and began to celebrate wildly.

“I don’t know what was in my head. It was kind of like, I finally got one,” he said.

It was one of three touchdowns thrown by Smith during the game in which he completed 19 of 33 passes for 283 yards.

o o o o o o

With starting strongside linebacker Doug Rigg out with a broken wrist that required surgery, WVU shook up their linebacking corps. Najee Goode was moved from the middle to the strong side and Jewone Snow took his place in the middle. The redshirt freshman responded by leading the team with nine tackles. Also getting time in the middle was true freshman Jared Barber, who had a tackle for a loss.

“It felt a little different,” Goode admitted of the move. “I missed the middle, but I have a little more freedom on the outside and get to blitz a little more.”

Goode had five tackles.

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