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CURRENT STORIES


WVU not revealing game-day secrets

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

MORGANTOWN -- Whatever West Virginia's defensive game plan is for Wisconsin, the Mountaineer coaching staff isn't about to reveal anything about it.

Tuesday at Rich Rodriguez's first weekly press conference of the season, the third-year coach was asked who he was counting on to generate a pass rush -- in light of WVU's failure to put any pressure on Badger quarterbacks during last season's 34-17 loss at Madison, Wisconsin.

"Our front three of Ernest Hunter, Ben Lynch and Fred Blueford all have the explosiveness to generate a pass rush," Rodriguez said. "We may have to blitz a linebacker occasionally."

Which linebacker?

Rodriguez isn't saying. Revealing who might blitz could tip off the Badgers from where it's coming.

It could be Grant Wiley. It could be middle linebacker Adam Lenhortt. Maybe safety Leandre Washington or even cornerback Brian King and his 4.4 40-yard dash speed.

One thing is for sure -- the Mountaineers don't have the luxury of not blitzing. Three defensive linemen won't beat five offensive lineman, a tight end and sometimes a running back no matter how good of pass rushers they are.

"There's no question we can't give them 10 seconds to throw the ball like we did sometimes last year," Rodriguez said. "We don't want to get away from our base defense very much, because we do have some new guys starting out there."

King might have said as much as will be said.

"We've got our game plan," the senior cornerback said. "We just have to stick to it, even if they beat us occasionally early.

"If we stick to it, we should be in the game in the fourth quarter. We want to give ourselves a chance to win the game, something we didn't do last year."

"SPREAD"ING RUMORS: According to reports out of Wisconsin, coach Barry Alvarez has added some spread offense formations to the Badger repertoire.

"Yeah, we've heard rumors about that," Rodriguez said. "But I tend to think you go back to whatever you do best."

Still, Rodriguez said he didn't blame Alvarez for exploring the possibilities.

"I had heard a couple of years ago they were interested in the spread for their running game," Rodriguez said. "Now, when you consider the four receivers they have coming back and the great tailback they have, I think it's a good thing for them to look at."

Wisconsin tailback Anthony Davis reminds Rodriguez of former Mountaineer star Avon Cobourne.

"When you consider how good Avon was running out of the spread, Davis has that same kind of ability," Rodriguez said. "Davis makes great cuts and has the ability to make defenders miss him, just like Avon.

"Our greatest fear is trying to tackle Davis in the open field."

MODERN MARVELS: Wisconsin wide receiver Lee Evans is expected to be near 100 percent heading into Saturday's game.

Evans sat out last season after sustaining a knee injury during the 2002 spring game.

Mountaineer running back Quincy Wilson suffered the same injury during the 2000 spring game. He showed no effects of the injury last season, when he gained 901 yards rushing.

"For Quincy, that was so long ago it's a non issue now," Rodriguez said. "With the marvels of modern medicine, they can pretty much get you back to as good as you were before.

"I'm sure Lee Evans' injury is a non issue for Wisconsin too."

Alvarez said during the Big 10 coaches teleconference Tuesday that Evans appeared just as fast now as he did before the injury.

"If that's the case, he'll be one of the top two or three receivers in the country and a first round draft choice," Rodriguez said. "I saw enough of him on film last summer to know how good he is."

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