West Virginia is Getting Man-Handled

South Florida is taking it to the Mountaineers of West Virginia. Last year, the Bulls won at Morgantown. This year, Pat White has been injured and the Bulls have brought the wood. WVU has an explosive creative spread offense and can score quickly from anywhere on the field, but South Florida has outplayed them all night. Of course, with this Mountaineer team, that means nothing. Nonetheless, the Bulls have won at Auburn this year. If South Florida can hold on in impressive fashion, they should be ranked in the Top 10. Jarrett Brown is in for Pat White – and he’s just been picked off by Ben Moffitt (pictured below en route to the end zone after picking off Pat White).

 Ben Moffitt, taking it to the house, puts South Florida up 7-0.  (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

If you are a fan of West Virginia, you have to love what Rich Rodriguez has done with the spread offense. The spread offense is a great offense for programs on the rise. Utilizing this approach allows teams facing budgetary or recruiting constraints to recruit differently than teams running conventional offenses. Many teams running spreads do not deploy a tight end or fullback. WVU has the best fullback I’ve seen in years – Owen Schmitt. He can run, catch and block. The spread allows teams to forego the tremendous effort required to secure elite passers or offensive linemen who must be recruited beyond state lines. Only a few national programs are capable of stockpiling elite players at those positions every single year. West Virginia is not at that level – and has done a masterful job of getting value.

Teams like South Florida, though, are well-suited to defend against the best features of the spread. The Bulls have two corners who are likely to play in the NFL. The team also features quick, strong, aggressive defensive linemen who can get upfield in a hurry. The Bulls linebackers are fast and can close on backs and receivers in space. South Florida is the fourth team in the state with “Florida players” playing “Florida ball.”

West Virginia has a new rival – and this rival has their number. Last year, that number was 19. Tonight, it’s 6 (for now). If the Bulls can hang on, Rich Rodriguez will have to reckon with the fact that the South Florida Bulls are structurally designed to beat his team. The Bulls have demonstrated the capacity to beat WVU at their best, at home and on the road. If the Bulls hang on, it will be a new day in Morgantown. There can no longer be any illusions about ruling the roost in the Big East. That challenge will likely fall to someone else this season.

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The Mountaineers leader (Pat White, above) is on the bench and their season hangs in the balance.

PostScript: Congrats to USF. South Florida 21, West Virginia 13.

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