West Virginia-Auburn shapes up as track meet Print
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Friday, 18 September 2009 10:21
NCAAF Headline News

 AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -West Virginia coach Bill Stewart has a prediction for the Mountaineers' game against Auburn.
``I see a track meet,'' Stewart said.
With the speedy running backs and the gaudy stats signs do point to that kind of offensive showcase Saturday night when the Tigers host West Virgnia.
Last season, the Tigers (2-0) couldn't begin to keep up with Pat White and the Mountaineers (2-0), who used a late kick seal a 34-17 win.
Now Auburn's offense is putting up the flashier numbers.
``It is going to be very difficult to contain the Auburn Tigers,'' he said. ``They are fourth overall (nationally) in total offense and second in rushing. That tells me they go and they make a lot of plays. They are a fast team and they are playing very well right now.''
back 100-yard rushing games. That's a first for the Tigers, a program that has trotted out backs like Bo Jackson, Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown.
They are 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference in rushing and both rank in the Top 10 nationally.
West Virginia no longer has the dangerous White. The Mountaineers instead boast Noel Devine, a speedster who ran for more than 200 yards against the Tigers last season. They also have Jarrett Brown, who is completing 75 percent of his passes for 577 yards while also running for another 142.
``Those two combinations for a defense aren't good,'' said Auburn coach Gene Chizik, a former defensive coordinator. ``So there's no one area that you feel like is going to be more important than the other. Do you want your eyes poked out or your nose cut off? I mean, which one do you want? They do them both really, really well.
``This offense can get it cranked up.''
So can Auburn's these days under offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. A group that ranked 104th nationally in producing just 303 yards a game last season could have counted that as a good half in the first two games. McCalebb, a freshman, and Tate are averaging a combined 268 yards rushing.
The Tigers have had 500-plus yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 1970, the year before quarterback Pat Sullivan won the Heisman Trophy.
ris Todd hasn't thrown an interception in 49 attempts this season while Wildcat quarterback Kodi Burns has run for four touchdowns and passed for a fifth.
``They run it all. They run the draw, they run the power, the belly, the zone, the quarterback, and it is all fast,'' Stewart said. ``It is fun to watch when you are not playing them.''
West Virginia has only allowed 151 yards rushing in two games. Only nine backs have gained 100 yards against the Mountaineers in their last 53 games.
``They are excellent at their trade,'' Chizik said. ``They're really, really good at what they do. If you look at them over the course of time, those guys know exactly where they're supposed to be. They built the defense around so much speed, but also so much carryover of knowledge. There's just a comfort level of those guys on that defense.''
However, defensive tackle Scooter Berry is questionable with a shoulder injury sustained last week against East Carolina.
``We hope Scooter will play, but I don't know that he will,'' Stewart said. ``We don't want to get him hurt, this is only game 3.''
The 5-foot-8, 176-pound Devine and the 5-10, 164-pound McCalebb are both shifty, fast and undersized.
But Auburn linebacker Craig Stevens sees differences, too.
them and once he sees something that's when he gets his.''
Tigers cornerback Walt McFadden also thinks Brown has the ability to break some runs, even if passing is his biggest strength.
``The quarterback is a very speedy guy,'' McFadden said. ``He's not too far behind what Pat White was last year. They just bring a lot of excitement to the game.''
 

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