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Defense stuns WVU offense in scrimmage

by Joedy McCreary


(Thursday, August 20) MORGANTOWN -- During its first officiated scrimmage Wednesday -- and with 16 days until the opener with No. 1 Ohio State -- West Virginia's defense saw red.


The Mountaineer defense recorded 11 sacks and intercepted three passes, two by Jerry Porter, to dominate WVU's intra-squad scrimmage.

WVU's second-string offense lined up against the Mountaineers' first-team defense, and vice-versa, and the starting defenders found themselves tackling several true freshmen that have been pressed into duty by depth concerns, WVU coach Don Nehlen said.

"The kids who can play played pretty good," Nehlen said. "Our problem was that we just lacked depth."

Nehlen said that as many as five freshmen could see varsity action this season.

Most notable of those first-year players is tailback Lew Daniels, who split time with Alvin Swoope behind starter Amos Zereoue. Daniels ran for 18 yards on 12 carries against WVU's first-team defense.

"When he knows what he's doing, he will be somebody to be reckoned with," Nehlen said.

Defensive lineman John Thornton said Daniels' shifty, shake-and-bake running style -- as well as his red jersey -- remind him of OSU tailback Michael Wiley.

"We've got some good freshman running backs," Thornton said. "He will help us because he's a shifty running back like Ohio State will have."

But linebacker Gary Stills wasn't satisfied with his three sacks Wednesday.

"Some days I want to get more but I can't because they put some good blockers against me," Stills said. "And coach might call a defense that doesn't go my way. If it's my chance to get the sack, I will, but I'll also play the run to the best of my ability."

Zereoue rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Marc Bulger completed 8-of-13 passes for 64 yards and the offense's other touchdown, an 11-yard strike to Anthony Becht.

Receiver David Saunders, in his first scrimmage since tearing knee ligaments last fall, caught five passes for 41 yards.

"It's nice to see (Saunders) get tackled and jump right back up," Nehlen said. "I don't see any hesitation in him. As far as somebody going to hit him, it doesn't bother him."


n Nehlen was also pleased with Barrett Green's progress since moving to linebacker, where most of his hits are in-bounds.

n "He will hit 'em and at linebacker, the sideline's a long way from him," Nehlen said, laughing. "He's not so close to the sideline."

Green was plagued by personal foul calls last season at safety.

n Marc Bulger's father, Jim, and some family members watched Wednesday's scrimmage. Jim Bulger played at Notre Dame in the early 1970s.

n The scrimmage stopped twice when a black Labrador Retriever ran onto the team's grass practice field. Both times, team equipment manager Dan Nehlen wound up carrying the pooch outside the gate.