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WVU football Q&A answers 10.18.10

Written by Colin Dunlap on .

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One Big East Conference game down, six more to go. And as I watched the Syracuse game on Saturday, it made the landscape even more muddy. 

Were the Orange that bad? Was Pitt that good? Should everyone in the Big East look at things and come to the realization that the league -- top to bottom -- has teams in it that, quite simply, aren't that far apart from one another?

Who knows, but it will be interesting how it all plays out in the coming weeks.

Now, onto the Q&A, a Q&A in which you can send questions here: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/wvu/questions/qaform.asp

Away we go ...

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QUESTION: Who is the biggest surprise player for the Mountaineers as far as you are considered this season? 

- Tim in Moundsville, W.Va.

COLIN DUNLAP: For me, it would have to be senior linebacker Anthony Leonard. It really isn't that much of a stretch to say that he could be the defensive MVP on one of the nation's finest defenses right now. And, who in the heck would have ever thought that could happen as this year approached? Certainly not a majority of you, if you are telling the truth. But, Leonard is averaging 5.83 tackles a game, he has 4.5 tackles for a loss and a sack through six games. Also, the mistakes that plagued him earlier in his career seem gone, as he hasn't had a brain cramp that has allowed the opposition to make a big-time play. When Pat Lazear went down, toward the end of preseason camp, it seemed a worry fell over Mountaineer Nation. Leonard, to this point, has proved that he is more than capable of being a guy you can lean on as the quarterback of the defense.

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QUESTION: What did you think of the hook and ladder play that we scored on against USF?

- Ron M. in Pittsburgh, Pa.

CD: As with any risky play call in football, when it works, the offensive coordinator -- Jeff Mullen in this case -- looks like a genius. Personally, and perhaps I subscribe to the old-school theories a bit too much, but I thought it was too much of a risk in the situation. Again, though, it worked. And it ended up being the most pivotal play in that game. But, to me, many, many things have to go exactly correct on that play (which they did) for it to hit. Otherwise, if there were a fumble on that pitch, you can go from getting an almost-sure three points at the end of the half to getting nothing, which could have served as some momentum for USF. What overrides everything is that it worked, so, again, Mullen looks like he knew precisely what he was doing.

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QUESTION: What do you think of the prospect of using Tavon Austin and Noel Devine in the backfield at the same time?

- Terry in Orlando, Fla.

CD: There was some two-back stuff in the game against USF, and I thought it worked pretty well. I think the staff is reluctant to go with it too much, though, because it takes away having the four-wide sets. To me, West Virginia -- and more to the point, Geno Smith -- seems at its best this season when they go out of the four-wide stuff. I think that is where they have shown the ability to hurt other defenses.

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QUESTION: I hate the bubble screen!!!

- Danny in Cleveland, Ohio

CD: First of all, West Virginia doesn't really run the "bubble screen" all that much, they run more of a "tunnel screen" play. I assume that is what you are complaining about. A "bubble screen" is when the receiver goes a step forward and then comes back -- Lou Holtz used to run this at Notre Dame a lot and it depends more on lineman blocking. West Virginia runs more of the "tunnel screen," where the receiver comes back to the quarterback without hesitation behind one of the blocking receivers, depending more on receiver blocking. Anyhow, here is the deal, I don't see the play as all that bad, because the tunnel screen is, essentially, a toss sweep, but you get the ball to the edge faster. Think about that, instead of Jock Sanders or Tavon Austin having to take a handoff and get to the edge, when they receive the ball, they are already there, ready to make a play. Yes, I know it can be frustrating as fans watching the play go for just a few yards or no gain time and again. But when it hits, when you get that block from a receiver and it springs, the play hits big.

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QUESTION: What is your favorite lunch spot in Morgantown?

- Jim in Clarksburg, W.Va.

CD: I'm a fan of Los Mariachis, like that place for a quick Mexican lunch.

Nick's Canteen -- I mean, how can you go wrong there? But parking is tough, that's the only thing.

And, there is always the Fishbowl.

 

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Get all your questions to me at this Q&A...send a bunch if you'd like:

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/wvu/questions/qaform.asp

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