DB Jahmile Addae (PHOTO: Bill Amatucci)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Rich Rodriguez
28-21, 4 years
2004 Record: 8-4
at UCF WON 45-20
at Virginia Tech LOST 13-19
at Connecticut WON 31-19
at Rutgers WON 35-30
at Pittsburgh LOST 13-16
vs. Florida State LOST 18-30

2004 Final Rankings
AP-30, Coaches-26, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

In coach Rich Rodriguez's fifth season at his alma mater, this is one of his youngest teams. Seventy percent of the roster remains freshmen or sophomores. Fortuitously, the incoming rookies are the most talented of the five groups Rodriguez and recruiter Herb Hand have brought to campus. This well may be the best overall class (ranked 31st-best nationally) in the history of this Big East school. Likewise, this staff, headed by Rodriguez, is arguably amongst the best in the country, and they are especially strong at harvesting talent, thanks to Hand. With most of the roster (75%) from other states, you can see how the constant work they do to build (and then rebuild) this team annually begins to pay off if they can keep the players and this system matched, like they now do. The flow this way is in place to win.

The talent they have amassed, though, is presently/primarily true freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores. Leaders like Lorello, Addae and Mozes will have to "hold the rope" (as Rodriguez likes to say) as they find the proper places for inexperienced starters and backups. The big question--or headache--is at QB. Three players, led by redshirt freshman Pat White, all give promise to the possibilities here. A small step back from the conference's all-time leading rushing QB (Marshall), any of the candidates will (eventually) get this offense rolling with speed (except Bednarik) and arm strength. They will run the ball more than ever, looking to open the field and ignite the efficiency aspect of the passing game (more than its ability to gain sheer yards; WVU was 22nd in pass efficiency compared to 104th in total passing), and by midseason, the complexities of Rodriguez' offensive madness will surface.

WVU's schedule will feature Maryland, Louisville and Virginia Tech, with the season-ending "Backyard Brawl" (vs. Pitt) presently scheduled as a determinant Turkey Day tussle - the winner could very well be the BCS brat, again. The way their slate is methodically stacked, WVU's scheduling sequence basically alternates home and road games, while - simultaneously, starting with Syracuse - every other opponent poses a challenge, and the inbetween games should all be won. The bottom line here: four of the last seven, paced every other week and all likely to be against top 25 squads, are each at home. This is favorable, a HUGE boost for a fledging team. Rodriguez typically beats those he should and losses against better foes, and with so much to accomplish just to stay above water (.500), we don't see wins being the true measurement of how far this club goes. They will finish strong, with surprise accolades coming for their offensive maturity. For being so young, most will then point to the bright future that the pains of this year will eventually produce. So, take heed, Mountaineer fans, for another era of (even more) promise is about to emerge on University Avenue, there along the Monongahela, you'll see...

Projected 2005 record: 7-4
QB - 2 DL - 3.5
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Dwane Thompson, 1-0-0, 0 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Jason Colson, 142 att., 706 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Jason Colson, 12 rec., 120 yds., 0 TD

Scoring: Jason Colson, 6 TD, 36 pts.

Punting: Phil Brady, 51 punts, 38.3 avg.

Kicking: Andy Good, 3-3 FG, 0-1 PAT, 9 pts.

Tackles: Mike Lorello, 66 tot., 50 solo

Sacks: Mike Lorello, Kevin McLee, Keilen Dykes, Ernest Hunter, Craig Wilson - 2 each

Interceptions: Dee McCann, 3 for 3 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Brandon Myles, 5 ret., 23.8 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Antonio Lewis, 3 ret., 5.3 avg., 0 TD


RB Jason Colson (PHOTO: All-Pro Photography by Dale Sparks)
OFFENSE: Rasheed Marshall-QB, Charles Hales-QB/WR, Hikee Johnson-FB, Kay-Jay Harris-TB, Miquelle Henderson-WR, Eddie Jackson-WR, John Pennington-WR, Ryan Thomas-TE, Michael Watson-OT, Tim Brown-C, Jeff Berk-OG, Brad Cooper-K, Chris Henry-WR (NFL)
DEFENSE: Jason Hardee-DE, Ben Lynch-DT, Adam Lehnortt-MLB, Scott Gyorko-WLB, Lawrence Audena-BS, Adam Jones-CB (NFL)

Only one quarterback on the Gold and Blue roster has ever thrown a legitimate pass in a game. Pat White will be the clubhouse favorite. He could have signed a $350,000 bonus to go play baseball for the Anaheim Angels (pitcher/OF), but selected the Mountaineers over LSU. That is a testament to his dual-threat prowess. Mr. Football (AL) will make this position feel only minor bumps. Dwayne Thompson, whose speed forced coaches to give him reps somehow, saw action at WR last season. He will get plenty of snaps in the spring to battle White, and his quick-release and speed make him an ideal, seamless replacement for Marshall. He has a better arm and may be equally as elusive. Adam Bednarik (second cousin of two-way NFL Hall of Famer Chuck) is the biggest and most effective pure passer of the threesome, but passed up spring ball recovering from (throwing) shoulder surgery. If either White or Thompson can be consistent early, smiles will soon spread over WVU fan's faces. Marshall was great, but either of these leading two candidates can eventually replace him.

Running Back
Even with the loss of Harris, this is probably the Mountaineers' deepest position. Ex-sprinter and long jumper Jason Colson has taken more snaps, and his size-speed combo makes him the starter for now. Pernell Williams can shake and offers the same physical qualities as Colson, but his hands aren't as soft. Erick Phillips, if he can come back from season-ending knee surgery, is a bull and a natural leader. But the most talked about running back will miss spring ball, as Parade all-American Jason Gwaltney will be graduating from high school. The huge, svelte Gwaltney has been drawing quick comparisons with Jim Brown, who was reared just miles away. Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez and recruiting coordinator Herb Hand out-dueled Ohio State and USC to get Gwaltney. SC coach Pete Carroll even called Gwaltney minutes before the young stud went on ESPNews the day before signing day to announce his intentions. The sleeper of the bunch is another true freshman who will join the team in the fall--Steve Slaton. The Mountaineers lack a burner (third down guy) in their "one-back" set, but Slaton will remedy that. This team runs the ball 70%, so watch the reenergized crew, along with a (set of) quick QB(s), make WVU's seventh ranked rushing effort remain just as viable.

Chris Henry, one of the best, declared early for the NFL. Brandon Barrett, big and fast in his precise route-running skills, is a Parade all-American who will become eligible in the fall, if he makes his grades. Darius Reynaud is an even faster athlete who also has academic woes. Brandon Myles had starter's status, but he will have to step back in to prove his worth. Rayshawn Bolden is 6-5 and well-proportioned, so he becomes indispensable deep and over the middle. Other players pepper the roster with similar size, so this unit is wrought with potential and is eager to display it. With Henry's temper and moodiness not affecting this corps anymore and Thompson's possible inclusion, expect the right players to emerge and for all to shine with the QB(s) perched to deliver.

Tight End
In their one-back set, TEs are also fullbacks in the Rodriguez offense; from wherever they line up, they block. In his last two years at his alma mater, RichRod has thrown little to this position. Gutsy Josh Bailey played for two years with a bad shoulder, but finally had surgery late last season. He returns to the hybrid position. Brad Palmer, Mike Villagrana and Justin Dziak might as well play guard, but each has the mobility to do the deeds here. Two intriguing prospects are walk-on Owen Schmitt and 6-foot-6, 300-pound Louis Davis, who should move inside. He may also end up on defense with his tireless motor. This unit awaits further route-running instructions…until then, they'll be staying home a lot.

Offensive Line
WVU is known as Running Back U. in the Big East, and the reason is position coach Rick Trickett's line. His next NFL prospect is academic all-star LG Dan Mozes, a big NC.net third-team all-American who missed the spring with injuries. His foot work and approach are superb as he rules the inside. The other guard, Jeremy Sheffey, is also being held out. The right tackle is two-year starter Garin Justice. Trickett thinks John Bradshaw has the potential to be one of his finest guards in the years to come. Another young blocker to watch is Zac Napier, who can either spell starting center Jeremy Hines, or move to guard. The possibilities and potential are mostly under 300lbs., so the mobility of the QBs can be facilitated well. Depth here is decent enough for us to believe that the turnover here is not going to be, in its worst case scenario, of any detriment to this side of the ball. Patience in developments here will pay off by mid-season, so ignore early results as signals for the campaign's fate.

At first, the Mountaineers will miss Marshall, particularly in the opener at the Carrier Dome. White has made a quick study of Rodriguez's "Spot the Ball" offense which often depends on no huddles and much "change-of-pace". He has speed and more wiggle--the questions come about his arm and its accuracy. The majority of Rodriguez' plays are signaled in from the sideline, so whichever QB plays still has to decipher the hand signals and then get the play off, and all without the help of a huddle. Henry may be addition by subtraction, but most of the receivers are green as the Mylan Puskar Stadium Mountaineer Field turf. The backfield situation is deep and exciting. As the rookies come along, Rodriguez will continue to maintain a strong ground game, particularly with Trickett's boys up front. The play-calling should be a bit pedestrian until the entire offense - not just the QBs - can properly gear up. Don't expect the clutch to be in long here - as you see Rodriguez' crazy schemes reinserted, you'll know then that this side of the ball has enough of a grasp on things that the coaches are letting them explore the playbooks possibilities, a good thing for all WVU fans to watch for. Also note how much more balance this offense will attain, something Marshall never could really spawn with his streaky throwing and/or marginal decision-making skills.


OG Dan Mozes (PHOTO: Pete Emerson)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Pat White-Fr (6-2, 190) Adam Bednarik-So (6-2, 220)
Dwayne Thompson-So (6-2, 190)
RB Jason Colson-Jr (6-1, 220) Pernell Williams-So (5-10, 195)
Owen Schmitt-So (6-3, 250) (FB)
WR Rayshawn Bolden-Jr (6-5, 220) Travis McClintic-Jr (6-0, 175)
WR Vaughn Rivers-So (5-9, 170) Joe Hunter-Jr (6-1, 205)
WR Brandon Myles-Sr (6-3, 190) Dorrell Jalloh-Fr (6-0, 190)
TE Josh Bailey-Sr (6-6, 270) Brad Palmer-Jr (6-3, 255) (HB)
OT Travis Garrett-Sr (6-6, 305) Chris Bassler-Fr (6-5, 280)
OG Dan Mozes-Jr (6-4, 280) Ryan Stanchek-Fr (6-4, 285)
C Jeremy Hines-Jr (6-2, 285) Zac Napier-So (6-4, 280)
OG Jeremy Sheffey-Jr (6-3, 290) John Bradshaw-Fr (6-6, 290)
OT Garin Justice-Sr (6-8, 300) Jake Figner-Fr (6-5, 285)
K Pat McAfee-Fr (6-1, 205) Colby James-So (6-1, 185)


Defensive Line
Rodriguez uses his front conventionally to enable linebackers to make plays, but the three down lineman in the Casteel 3-3-5 plug holes effectively, too. The "three-downs" often catch heck from fans because of their lack of push, but essentially, the Mountaineer braintrust likes the variations possible in their stacked look. The coaches find recruiting quality back-eight players much more accomplishable than finding the monsters it takes to employ a pro-style 4-3. Even so, annually, Rodriguez and Casteel attempt to find ways to draw more pressure on the opponents (26 sacks wasn't enough). Ernest Hunter is a senior with plenty of experience at all phases of line play, and sophomore tackle Keilen Dykes has that quick first step to be a star in the making. The wild card is Florida-transfer Johnny Dingle, who must shake off the rust from his one-year sabbatical. The scant youth arriving and also those red-shirted are lean and quick, so look for interchangeability to allow shuffling and stunting so optimal affects can be felt from this brutish force. Allowing only eight TDs again would be a coup with the LBs so decimated, but they know how to bend and not break as a unit, so expect similar ground-stopping results here.

Big holes exist here, so watch LB play to gauge this entire D. Boo McLee is an explosive player who teams with Jeff Noechel to rule the strong side. Ex-RB McLee has uncanny versatility for his huge size, while state wrestling (215 lbs.) as well as egg-eating champ (Mountaineer Olympics) Noechel is super tough in all phases, too. Jay Henry is a heady guy with enough experience to not be suckered - he has held the weakside down well when needed. Marc Magro likely will replace Lehnortt, but his feet aren't nearly big enough yet to fill those huge shoes. A strength-and-conditioning-room lifer, Magro has the body of an Adonis, but is smart too. He has the intangibles in the locker room just like his predecessor, but has yet to deliver in the "big play" way (no TFLs, sacks, INTs, or passes broken up in '04). The brightest light could be that of Mortty Ivy, a former high-school quarterback with superb quickness and range to go with his crafty instincts. West Virginia recruited a passel of linebackers in the incoming freshman class and at least one of them (rangy Zac Cooper) will get an early look. Depth is decent, but the leadership and swagger of Lehnortt will be hard to mimic, so we'll see just how thin this corps can be spread and still be effective. The speed here says they will drop back well, but need to learn each others habits before their swarming can be truly effective.

Defensive Back
The game may be over for Pac Man, but there is still starting experience at CB, and some young pups in the waiting. But pound-for-pound, Jones was one of the finest football players ever to grace Mountaineer Field and won't be easily replaced. Anthony Mims, who plays the other corner, brings experience to his post. After several early season mis-steps, he was consistent for the remainder of the year. Dee McCann, who played considerably well as a dime guy (three INTs and two forced fumbles), will get first crack at Jones' old post. Depth is speedy and ready with four other semi-experienced CBs waiting their turns. WVU has two safeties who can line up like linebackers or drop deep into pass coverage. Sometimes they do both on the same play. Maybe the most exciting defensive player in the Big East will be one of these--senior Mike Lorello, who has started every year he has been a Mountaineer. Lorello is smallish, but his heart gets him to the ball and earns him an amazingly productive and balanced stat line. The other "hybrid-type" should come from either Ridwan Malik and/or Eric Wicks, both of whom can hold their own in the open field (coverage and tackling) The free safety, Jahmile Addae, is a first-team all-Big East selection able to follow a play and make his all-around efforts optimally pay off. The three big seniors will again lead this experienced secondary to a solid stature, and run-stopping will not suffer due to too many small DBs.

Lorello is the leader of the bunch which returns six starters. D-coordinator Casteel will try to again improve his group's effort(s) (went from 74th-ranked total defense to 37th), and with the way the experienced is stacked, he should rank about the same with this back-heavy bunch. Fans usually look at West Virginia's two-deeps and are concerned about overall athleticism, and this depth chart is no different. Yet Casteel and his ascending crew most often get the job done with solid team aspects to the play here. The 3-3-5 uses deception (this group again has versatility from top to bottom) rather than one-on-one strength to get the job done. Most seasons, the leading tacklers for the Mountaineers are either the 'backers or the hybrid linebacker-safeties Casteel calls "spurs" and "bandits." Until more raw talent is available and/or opposing offenses figure it out, this quietly effective system will remain in place. A decent scoring defense (allowed 20.5 per contest), WVU allowed for the season a combined 83 points in the fourth quarter, more than twice as many as they allowed in the first (40), so the marginal nature of this unit to slowly regress as a game wears on has to be stemmed. Leadership may be gone, but raw talent and potential are darn close to what they just were, so adjustments and shifts will ultimately equal close to, if not as good of a performance as 2004's.


DB Mike Lorello (PHOTO: All-Pro Photography by WVU)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Keilen Dykes-So (6-4, 295) Johnny Dingle-So (6-3, 250)
NT Ernest Hunter-Sr (6-4, 295) Pat Liebig-So (6-4, 295)
DT Craig Nelson-Jr (6-1, 295) Andrae Wright-So (6-5, 280)
SLB Jeff Noechel-Sr (6-3, 230) Bobby Hathaway-So (6-1, 230)
MLB Jay Henry-Jr (6-2, 225) Marc Magro-So (6-2, 240)
WLB Kevin McLee-Jr (6-1, 245) Mortty Ivy-Fr (6-3, 230)
CB Dee McCann-Sr (5-11, 200) Antonio Lewis-So (5-10, 190)
CB Anthony Mims-Sr (6-0, 190) Larry Williams-So (6-1, 190)
SS Eric Wicks-Jr (6-1, 215) Akeem Jackson-Jr (6-0, 190)
FS Jahmile Addae-Sr (6-0, 205) Abraham Jones-Jr (6-1, 195)
BS Mike Lorello-Sr (6-1, 200) Ridwan Malik-So (6-1, 195)
P Phil Brady-Sr (5-9, 185) Scott Kozlowski-Fr (6-0, 190)




The kicking game was a shambles in 2004. Rodriguez recruited a placements guy and a punter for the incoming class, and both may start. Andy Good came on late in the season to hit three straight field goals. He will have the job in the spring, but Rodriguez and company went out this winter and signed arguably two of the best kicking prospects in the country. A true frosh, Pat McAfee won the 2005 "One on One" kicking competition in Miami with a 65 yarder. Stellar kick coverage will only continue with so many eager LBs and DBs trying to get reps. What WVU must remedy is the three FGAs blocked.

Phil Brady, who led the Mountaineers to the 92nd-ranked net punting results, will be contested by newcomer Scott Kozlowski (also can play at PK). Like his sidewinding partner McAfee, Koz was crowned a "One on One" champ, too. Veteran starting snapper Scott Fleming must be replaced, so we'll see if the "having kicks blocked" bug is caught over here instead. Punt distances and fundamental coverage will improve.

Return Game
West Virginia's is virtually wiped out here with the departures (Jones and Harris). Brandon Myles could help with kick returns and Vaughn Rivers has done some punt returning. Look for one of the incoming freshman like Slaton or Jetavious Best to help shore up this area. WVU recruited burners in February, but eligibility issues cloud the immediate future of this dimension.