WVU's Devine gets another shot at Maryland
That gust of wind Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen felt at the West Virginia game in 2007 turned out to be Noel Devine.
Devine was a backup freshman making his national television debut when he piled up 125 yards on his first three carries in the Mountaineers' 31-14 win over the Terrapins.
Friedgen was left grim faced particularly after Devine took off past the Maryland bench on a 76-yard scamper to the 1 late in the third quarter.
''I remember how fast he ran by me,'' Friedgen said this week. ''He has tremendous all-out speed.''
Devine can make a lasting impression on Friedgen one final time when No. 21 West Virginia (2-0) and Maryland (2-0) meet on Saturday.
The senior continues his climb up West Virginia's career rushing charts. He ranks fifth all-time with 3,604 yards and needs 320 more to surpass Steve Slaton at No. 4.
Wide receiver Jock Sanders loved the view from West Virginia's side three years ago for Devine's coming-out party.
''Wow. That's all you can say about that performance,'' Sanders said. ''He was young then. He's matured and knowing the things you know now, he should have a better game.''
Just like Devine's arrival, West Virginia has some new offensive threats this time to drive Friedgen batty.
Sophomore Tavon Austin, a native of Baltimore who was heavily recruited by the Terrapins, leads the Mountaineers with 14 catches for 175 yards.
Sophomore Geno Smith has stepped into the starting quarterback role nicely, directing two fourth-quarter touchdown drives of over 95 yards and throwing a 2-point conversion pass to send last week's game at Marshall into overtime, where WVU won it on a field goal.
Smith has completed 72 percent of his passes for 532 yards in his first two career starts.
''He's developed so fast,'' Sanders said. ''Usually with new quarterbacks you've got good weapons around them like Noel, Tavon and myself. Geno wants to take the next step and make plays himself and be more comfortable in the decisions that he makes.''
Devine, Austin, Smith and Sanders represent a step up in quickness from what the Terrapins have seen so far this season.
Not a concern, according to Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak.
''I think we do have the speed especially at the linebackers and the secondary to keep up with them,'' Wukciak said.
Maryland must to do that in order to have any chance at breaking a three-game losing streak to the Mountaineers and improving to 3-0 for the first time since 2001, when the Terrapins won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in Friedgen's first season.
''This week is going to be another test, a different type of test, and will serve as an indicator as to how much we have grown in the past few weeks,'' Friedgen said. ''We are going to need more than just confidence to win in Morgantown.''
West Virginia's defense has given up just 21 total points and an average of 99 yards on the ground so far and will get tested by a Maryland offense that's piled up 241 rushing yards per game.
Conversely, Maryland may be forced to throw the ball more. Despite five touchdown passes last week in a 62-3 win over Morgan State, Maryland is averaging just 80 yards through the air.
Friedgen plans to keep a quarterback swap going after both Jamarr Robinson and backup Danny O'Brien thrived last week.
The mobile Robinson followed up a 92-yard rushing effort in the opener against Navy with two TD passes against Morgan State before giving way to O'Brien, who threw for three more scores in the second quarter in his first college action.
''We will play both,'' Friedgen said. ''I think that will portend how the game goes. I think they compliment each other very well. Teams have to be prepared for both quarterbacks.''
Robinson has played in hostile environments before. In his only road start last year, he nearly rallied the Terrapins at Florida State before the Seminoles got a late score to win 29-26.
''I take it as another challenge,'' Robinson said. ''I'm not really a guy to get intimidated wherever we play. I visited Florida State and started that game. It was supposed to be the loudest place we ever played. It was loud but it's 11 guys that have to line up and play.''
If there's a good time to pick on West Virginia's defense, this week might be it.
The Mountaineers have yet to register a sack. Linebacker Pat Lazear will miss his third straight game with a knee bruise. Cornerback Brandon Hogan was suspended indefinitely this week following a drunken driving arrest. Safety Robert Sands was banged up in the first two games but wasn't listed on West Virginia's weekly injury report.
West Virginia's defense has had to stand tall because the offense has struggled early in both games, leading Coastal Carolina 10-0 at halftime and trailing Marshall 14-3 after two periods.
''We've got to start fast,'' Sanders said.
Friedgen is more worried about how the Mountaineers finished strong against the Thundering Herd.
''Obviously West Virginia woke up right at the end,'' he said.