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Friedgen: If WVU gets the ball in space, 'there will be some issues'

Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen has been pleased with the play of his scout team, which this week has been simulating the play of West Virginia’s offense. Freshman Jeremiah Wilson has been emulating West Virginia running back Noel Devine. Freshman transfer Adrian Coxson has been playing running back Tavon Austin. And redshirt freshman Alex Fletcher has been playing wide receiver Jock Sanders.

Speed, speed and more speed.

“It’s like in basketball having two guys who can score,” Friedgen said. “They have three. It makes it more difficult.”

Under Coach Bill Stewart, West Virginia runs more of a pro-style offense that it did under Rich Rodriguez. But problems still arise for a defense when West Virginia gets the ball to its speedy playmakers in space.

“When they run a zone play, it could be the inside zone or the outside zone, and that could break anywhere along the line of scrimmage,” Friedgen said. “So that creates more problems for you, especially on the outside because Devine will run parallel to the line of scrimmage. And he is so fast that everything stretches, and then all of the sudden he puts his foot in the ground like he did a couple years back here and he is 70 yards down the field.

“It’s important that we really run to the ball. We don’t want to be dealing with these guys out in space one-on-one. That’s not a good situation. We have to do a great job of seeing a lot of our players at the ballcarrier. I feel better that we can do that this year because I think we have more athletes on the field. I was always concerned that one or two guys that aren’t a great athlete and all of the sudden they show up big in a game like this.

Coaches have said that they believe West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is a better passer than former Mountaineers quarterback Pat White.

“Anytime you can run an option and you can throw the ball, you’ve got problems,” Friedgen said. "You’ve got to bring that other guy down to help defend the option and now it opens up all types of throwing lanes. What complicates it with these guys, with Sanders and Austin, they get the ball in open space there will be some issues. Our defense really has a challenge. I think we are ready for it. I think this is an important game for them.”

Look, a lot of things could decide this game. The poise of Maryland’s quarterbacks. Noel Devine. Even Maryland kicker Travis Baltz. My question: who is the most important player is on both teams.

By Eric Prisbell  |  September 16, 2010; 10:22 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: Maryland return man Logan as X-factor against West Virginia

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