Two QBs, stout line a challenge for WVU
Who will West Virginia see tonight? South Florida?s B.J. Daniels (pictured) is more of a dual threat, accounting for nearly 3,000 yards this season. Backup Bobby Eveld is more of a conventional pocket passer.
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West Virginia's regular-season finale at South Florida tonight is likely to come down to two keys.
First, which quarterback will the defense face?
Starter B.J. Daniels is a scrambling run threat who has missed the past two games with a shoulder strain but has been practicing. His backup, Bobby Eveld, is a sound pocket passer.
It's unclear who will play and seeing both is not out of the question.
Second, can the offensive line contend with one of the most dominating defensive lines in the country? USF, ranked No. 2 in Division I-A in sack production, is fast and skilled at getting pressure.
West Virginia (8-3, 4-2 Big East) can win a share of the conference title with a win, and earn the league's BCS bowl bid via tiebreakers if Cincinnati wins its finale Saturday.
- Matchup: West Virginia (8-3, 4-2 Big East) at South Florida (5-6, 1-5), 8 p.m. today, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
- TV, radio: ESPN, Mountaineer Sports Network, Sirius 94, XM 190 for MSN broadcast.
- West Virginia: Can win a share of the Big East title with victory. ... QB Geno Smith ranks No. 5 in Division I-A in passing (340.1 per game). ... RB Shawne Alston scored two rushing TDs in the 21-20 win against Pitt. ... DT Julian Miller is coming off a four-sack performance. ...Look for WR Devon Brown to replace WR Tavon Austin on punt returns.
- South Florida: Looking to become bowl eligible with a win. ... QB Bobby Eveld was 20 for 25 for 210 yards Friday against Louisville, but would return to the sideline if B.J. Daniels (shoulder) is healthy. ... Defense ranks No. 2 in Division I-A in sacks per game (3.45) and in tackles for loss (8.45). ... LB DeDe Lattimore averages 5.09 solo tackles per game, 1.18 tackles for loss, .64 sacks.
- Hidden stat: South Florida will be the fifth top-25 rushing defense West Virginia has faced in the Big East this season and sixth overall.
But the Bulls (5-6, 1-5) must not be overlooked, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.
"We're playing a very good team," he said. "Their record doesn't reflect what kind of a team they are, how well-coached they are, or what kind of players they have. They're sound in their schemes; they've just lost some tough games."
South Florida coach Skip Holtz said Monday he wasn't sure if Daniels would be able to play. Daniels has thrown for 2,359 yards this season and rushed for another 578.
Eveld has not been able to lead the Bulls to a win in two games since Daniels left the game Nov. 19 against Miami with a shoulder strain. Eveld, a drop-back passer, was 20 for 25 for 210 yards Friday against Louisville, throwing a touchdown and an interception.
In short, the two are vastly different quarterbacks.
That makes preparation difficult, Holgorsen said, particularly for Eveld because West Virginia coaches have little scouting material on the sophomore backup.
"You've got to be careful how you prepare for it. You don't know who you're going to see," Holgorsen said. "When guys are injured, you don't know if they're truly out or if they're going to play. Daniels is a runner. He's a good football player. ... He can make it with his feet, or he can make it with his arm. Even if he does play, he's probably not going to run very much with a shoulder like that. That's pretty dangerous."
Defensive tackle Julian Miller said he and the defense are preparing for everything.
"I'll take them both. Let 'em play both," Miller said. "We're preparing for both, and for one or the other. We want to go into this game being fully prepared for whatever happens. You've got a guy like B.J. who could look to run first ... whereas the other quarterback, he'll sit back in the pocket, look for his reads and try and sling it in there as best he can.
"There's definitely a difference and it really is challenging."
Offensively, West Virginia made adjustments at the half Friday against Pitt -- including two personnel changes on the offensive line that seemed to pay dividends in the run game.
South Florida doesn't blitz much, yet still has managed 3.45 sacks per game and ranks No. 2 in tackles for loss with 8.45 a game.
""Being able to create negative plays with just four guys up front is pretty good," Holgorsen said.
West Virginia has eked out wins in its past two games after appearing overmatched on the line to start the game.
"It doesn't take a genius to figure out if we're getting pressure you'd better A, run the ball more, and B, throw it quicker," said receivers coach Shannon Dawson. "We're going to keep our eye on that."
Quarterback Geno Smith said he has confidence in his line.
"The offensive line has pretty much done a pretty good job all year," he said. "At times they do get beat, they're human. That's something that comes along with the game. Pitt did a really good job pressuring me, disguising looks. It kind of threw us off. We'll be fine this week. It's not a major issue.
"This is a huge game. We have a chance to seal up at least a share of the Big East. It is one of our goals. It's pretty much win or go home. We have a chance to put ourselves in a pretty good situation with this win."
NOTE -- Smith and one of his top receivers, Stedman Bailey , went to high school together in Mirimar, Fla., about four hours from South Florida, which is in Tampa, and are expecting family and friends in attendance.
First Published December 1, 2011 12:00 am