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The Drawing Board: Jim Ferry breaks down the Duquesne defense

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

The Dukes have been abysmal on defense in their first three games. I know it, you know it, coach Jim Ferry knows it.

Duquesne, averaging 85.0 points allowed per game, hosts Albany at 7 p.m. tonight at the Palumbo Center. To prepare, I sat down with Ferry to break down his defense. In the past two games, losses to New Hampshire and West Virginia, Ferry has opened with man-to-man looks before sinking back into a 3-2 (or 1-2-2) zone.

P-G: What's your base defensive preference?

Ferry: “I prefer man, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve used more zone — ¾-court press back to a zone, I’ve done that a little bit more. The way we play, there are more possessions than in a normal game. So, if we’re not defending to the rate that we need to defend at, the other team gets more possessions as well. That’s where we’re stuck at right now. We’re out-rebounding our opponents. We’re out free-throwing our opponents. We’re doing a decent job with turnovers. It’s about getting our stops.

“In the first game we got up 30, so it’s hard to judge by. But these last two games we’ve given up a high percentage from the field, and that’s got to clean up. We can’t allow these high-percentage shots — easy looks on the basket and step-in 3-pointers. If a guy’s going to take 3-pointers, they’re going to have to be on the move.”

[AFTER THE CLICK: GET TO KNOW THE ZONE]

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Dana Holgorsen calls for swift improvements to West Virginia meeting, practice facilities

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen had plenty to say when asked about what facilities need improvement to get the Mountaineers among the elite in college football. 

West Virginia had its weight room renovated prior to this season, but there’s plenty more to be done. The next step?

“You’re sitting in it,” Holgorsen said, identifying the team meeting room. “It’s next on the list.”

Holgorsen said the wish list he delivered to the administration had three criteria: proper weight training, meeting and practice facilities.

“You have to be able to meet appropriately, which we can’t,” Holgorsen said, “and you need to be able to practice appropriately, which we can’t.

“I don’t think I’m being unreasonable with the requests that I’m asking for. We’re working hard on trying to get out there to raise the money that we need to make some of this stuff a reality.”

Holgorsen hopes the Mountaineers will soon be able to lay turf on their outdoor practice field, which with its natural grass gets torn up too quickly and leaves the team to practice inside Milan Puskar Stadium.

“You shouldn’t have to practice on your game field,” Holgorsen said. “Nobody else does.

Everyone says we don’t have the space because we live on a mountain. Well, that’s not true. We have the space. We use that practice field six times per year. With the climate and the maintenance, the only way to do it is with a turf field. So that’s in our plans.

When asked about the indoor practice facility housed next door to the stadium, Holgorsen said, rather matter-of-factly, “You’ve got to blow it up.”

“If you want to use it the way people want to be able to utilize your indoor facility, then safety is key,” he said. “You need runoff, you need proper length and if you want to do the kicking game in there you need it to be a little higher. It’s dysfunctional. We use it for some offseason stuff, but it needs to be a bit more functional.”

Holgorsen's frustrations bring to mind the concerns of Rich Rodriguez. Look back at this post ... 

Rodriguez: I still wasn't going to take the job if I thought the administration at the time at West Virginia had the same vision I did as far as growing the program. The program had gotten to a pretty good place, and I wanted to keep growing it. The administration at the time — not the one now, but the administration at the time — I wasn't convinced with my talks with them that they wanted to keep doing that. That was my perception, my belief."

We'll see how quickly the administration jumps on these improvements, but it's certainly true that each year recruits are being wined and dined at nicer and nicer facilities each year around the country, and West Virginia is falling behind. Holgorsen knows it, and he wants to play catch-up.


Stephen J. Nesbitt:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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49ers Baldwin gives Aliquippa a "hand"

Written by Mike White on .

Some of the players on the Aliquippa football team will have a certain San Francisco 49ers look for the WPIAL championships Saturday, thanks to Jon Baldwin.

Jon BaldwinBaldwin is a former Aliquippa star who now plays receiver for the San Francisco 49ers. He sent a dozen 49ers receivers gloves to his alma mater last week. The Aliquippa players wore them for last Friday's WPIAL semifinal game. (Baldwin is pictured during his Aliquippa days).

"That means a lot to these kids," said Aliquippa assistant coach Sherman McBride.

Aliquippa running back Dravon Henry had 102 yards receiving last Friday against Beaver. It was by far his most yards this season.

"He came to the sideline one time and it was funny," McBride said. "He looked at me and Z [Aliquippa coach Mike Zmijanac]. Z just laughed and said, 'It must be the gloves.'"

The Aliquippa players who make it to the NFL often give back to Aliquippa. Darrelle Revis helped the football team get new Nike uniforms this year. Mike Ditka often gives financial support. Tommie Campbell donated shoes to the track team last spring.

Henry player of the year?

Aliquippa's Dravon Henry is tweeting that he has been selected the Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year. Must be true. No official word yet.

TV games for Root

Root Sports television has announced the schedule for the telecasts of the WPIAL championships Saturday at Heinz Field.

The Class A game at 11 and the AAAA game at 2 will be televised live. Root will carry a Penguins game after the AAAA game. Root plans to show the Class AA final on delay at 10 p.m., and it will be followed by the AAA game.

 

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How WVU stacks up in national OFF/DEF rankings: Week 12

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Well, we're back again. After a 31-19 loss to Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday, let's take a peek at where the Mountaineers (4-7, 2-6 Big 12) fall in the national rankings.

What you'll find here are the national rankings for West Virginia on all three sides of the ball -- offense, defense and special teams. The easiest way to split it this was "GAIN" vs. "ALLOW" on the chart. So, under "interceptions," for example, on the left is the number of interceptions gained by WVU (caught), on the right is the number allowed (thrown).

The NR numbers are the national rankings (and there are 125 FBS teams). +/- marks whether WVU rose or fell in the rankings: means they got better, means worse.

+/- NR GAIN WEST VIRGINIA ALLOW NR +/-
-3 88 24.4 Points Per Game 31.6 95 -3
-1 90 142.9 Rushing Yards 186.1 84 -5
+0 46 253.5 Passing Yards 257.2 104 +12
+4 74 396.5 Total Yards 443.4 100 +0
-2 72 20.6 First Downs 20.7 63 +13
-3 37 163 Plays of 10+ Yds 175 117 -3
+0 46 51 Plays of 20+ Yds 56 104 +1
+3 19 28 Plays of 30+ Yds 35 121 -2
+1 112 32.5% 3rd-Down Conv. 42.7% 91 +6
 -2 120 25.0% 4th-Down Conv. 60.0% 92 +25
+11 67 82.8% Red-Zone Scores 84.6% 75 +8
+7 98 54.2% Red-Zone TD Pct. 55.7% 35 +3
-2 87 28:47 Time of Possession 31:13 -- --
+0 72 49.4 Penalty Yards Avg. 60.5 18 +7
-13 59 73.7% Field Goal Pct. 75.0% 68 -1
+2 20 43.5 Punt Avg. 39.8 30 +24
-6 106 18.7 Kick Return Avg. 22.6 86 +0
-10 117 3.3 Punt Return Avg. 4.8 24 -8
-11 96 15.0 Sacks 26.0 100 -2
+7 19 73.0 Tackles for Loss 71.0 104 +3
-11 44 11 Interceptions 14 109 -14
+2 2 15 Fumble Recoveries 14 121 +3
-3 73 -2 Turnover Margin -- -- --

NOTES

 West Virginia ranks in the bottom-25 in on offense in: 3rd- and 4th-down conversions, sacks, tackles for loss, interceptions and fumbles ... special teams on: kick return and punt return ... and defense on: passing yards, total yards and plays of 10+, 20+ and 30+ yards.

With punter Nick O'Toole, West Virginia now owns the No. 9 net punting average in the country at 40.5 net yards per punt.

 Only one team, Maryland (16) has fumbled the ball away more than WVU (14).

• Now with 26 takeaways, the WVU defense continues to eclipse its 2012 total (20) with one game remaining.


Stephen J. Nesbitt:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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VIDEO: Joe Rudolph talks Syracuse prep

Written by Sam Werner on .

Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph met with the media today to talk about Pitt's 34-27 loss to North Carolina Saturday, as well as Pitt's upcoming game against Syracuse.

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