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WVU is rushing to top of list

By Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- Who'd have thunk it.

West Virginia's no-huddle, spread offense with those four wide receivers is third in the nation in rushing.

That's right. RUSHING. As in 282 yards per game. Ahead of Virginia Tech. Ahead of Miami. Ahead of darn near every team in the nation.

Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez tried to warn everyone that the offense wasn't just for quarterbacks and receivers when he installed it last year.

Boy, was he right.

Oh sure, this ground success could all change when WVU starts Big East play in a few weeks.

But for now, it sure is fun watching teams stack the box in hopes of slowing down the WVU running game.

When another receiver or two steps up, opposing defenses will be forced to choose their poison.

That's when the fun will really begin.

Oh, irony of ironies.

n BETTER THAN CINCY?: While it may seem hard to believe after what's transpired earlier this season, East Carolina was chosen ahead of Cincinnati in the Conference USA preseason poll voted on by the league's coaches.

That's a little piece of information Rodriguez can use when making his case to his players that the Pirates are a dangerous team, despite embarrassing losses to Duke and Wake Forest.

While many observers didn't think much of WVU's close win over Cincinnati two weeks ago, that perception likely changed following the Bearcats' performance against sixth-ranked Ohio State last Saturday.

n A LEGEND PASSES: I would be remiss if I didn't mention the passing of Olympic Gold Medalist and NFL star wide receiver Bob Hayes last week.

He was nicknamed "Bullet Bob" and with good reason.

Although he officially never ran a sub 10-flat 100 meters, he probably did. He ran several sub 9-flat 100-yard dashes and was never given credit for them. Timers simply couldn't believe someone could run that fast and would write 9.1, the world record he held then, as the time.

My first recollection of the Olympics was the 1964 games at Tokyo, and Hayes was the reason I remember them. His anchor leg on the 4x100 meter relay team is considered the greatest sprint of all time.

Five teams behind and five meters behind the leader when he received the baton, Hayes sped past the competition and won going away. His split was timed at an astonishing 8.6 seconds.

Two weeks ago, Tim Montgomery broke the world record with a run of 9.78 seconds. If he'd have run that on a summer night 36 years in Tokyo, he'd have been scorched by nine meters. That's how fast Hayes was.

His speed also led to the invention of zone defenses in the NFL. The famed cover-2 defense was especially designed for him.

He remains the only man ever to win an Olympic Gold Medal and a Super Bowl ring.

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com