By Colin Dunlap | 12:15 a.m. Sunday
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A real emotional one today at Mountaineer Field, no question. With the stabbing death of Jasper Howard, and all the things that went on to celebrate his life, it kind of felt like the day was fractured into two: First, a service of sorts, kind of like a wake, and then a football game.
It was strange, definitely. But, for me, it was the second game in about a year I've covered where a team played just after a teammate died. Here is the other one: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08306/924639-365.stm
It is something I hope I don't have to do again.
Onto some stuff about the game ....
I thought it was very evident that West Virginia's offense was thrown off-kilter in the early-going. Jeff Mullen, the WVU offensive coordinator, and Jarrett Brown, WVU's quarterback, both spoke to how the UConn front was selling out, in an effort to force Brown into quick decisions so as to protect their cornerbacks. It was a tremendous gameplan from UConn coach Randy Edsall -- but, eventually, West Virginia adjusted.
The Mountaineers went to a bit of a power package in the second half, utilizing fullback Ryan Clarke and also running strong side over the top of tight end Tyler Urban -- who had a very good game.
That led to more yardage and, finally, the play that broke everything, Noel Devine's 56-yard home run with 2:10 left to win it.
Overall grade I give West Virginia in the win over UConn: B-
Some quick notes about the win:
Tavon Austin's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game marked the first time WVU has returned a kickoff for a touchdown since Darius Reynaud had a 96-yard return against Maryland in 2006.
Noel Devine rushed for more than 100 yards for the 13th time in his career and fifth time this season. WVU is now 11-2 when he rushes for at least 100 yards.
Chris Neild and Kent Richardson had the first interceptions of their careers in the fourth quarter.
- WVU is 40-10 all-time in BIG EAST games since 2002 and 80-45-1 all-time.
Noel Devine said he "just kept a smile on his face and played":
O-coordinator Jeff Mullen explains the Devine touchdown that won it:
Jarrett Brown talks about adjustments the offense made in the second half:
Brown continues about changing things up in the second half:
Chris Neild said this UConn team was different than the past versions:
ESPN video highlights:
Lastly, just a few minutes following the game, WVU President James P. Clements and Board of Governors Chairwoman Carolyn Long issued this statement:
"On behalf of the WVU family, we want to congratulate the UConn team and coaches for a spirited and courageous game played under very difficult circumstances. We also want to thank our team and fans for their generous support of the Husky team.
The cheers when the opposing team took - and left - the field, the moment of silence, the pins, the armbands and the overwhelming show of respect throughout the game were fine emblems of the solidarity of the Mountaineer community.
Our fans, always passionate and loyal, wanted to win this game. But they understood that today was a tough and sad day for our opponents. So while our hearts were with the Mountaineers to win the game, they were also with our visitors, whose hearts were broken when cornerback Jasper Howard lost his life in such a tragic way last weekend."