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WVU offense comes alive

by Chris Errington


MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia's offense answered its wake-up call.

After looking shaky in its season-opening loss to No. 1 Ohio State, the Mountaineers rebounded in a big way.

Marc Bulger had another big day, connecting on 20-of-25 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, but more importantly the running game got untracked. Amos Zereoue ran past, over and around Maryland's defense all evening on the way to a 135-yard effort. Zereoue also scored twice as West Virginia evened its record at 1-1 after a much-needed 42-20 victory Saturday.

"Offensively, we played a lot better than we did in the first game," head coach Don Nehlen said. "I thought Marc played really well and we were able to run the ball a lot better. It was just a much better offensive effort tonight."

The Mountaineers implemented a three-wide receiver set instead of the four they used in the loss to the Buckeyes, which Nehlen called a "stupid" tactic, and the results were immediate.

With a fullback joining Zereoue in the backfield for much of the night, the holes that never opened in the first game suddenly began springing up throughout the Terrapins' defensive line.

"Getting a big game from Amos was key," Bulger said. "We knew we needed to get him the ball a lot more than we did against Ohio State. When you have a player of his capability, you have to use him as much as possible."

Bulger said another key to the offense's success was the Mountaineers' ability to throw the ball deep down the field. Bulger completed four passes of 20 yards or longer, including a 42-yarder to tight end Anthony Becht on the Mountaineers' first possession of the second quarter. The pass play came after Bulger checked off three wide receivers and was the impetus for WVU's second scoring drive.

"I just got great protection on that play and was able to finally find (Becht) alone over the middle," Bulger said. "We knew with Amos running well, those passes would be there."

Wideout Shawn Foreman agreed.

"We noticed on films that (Maryland's defensive backs) like to play up a little, so we thought we could run by them. Tonight we were able to throw deep and that opened things up for Amos."

Earlier in the week, Bulger stressed the Mountaineers' need to jump out to a quick lead against Maryland. The coaching staff got the message.

Foreman said the decision to accept the opening kickoff instead of deferring to the second half as the Mountaineers normally do when winning the coin toss, was a confidence booster.

"When the coaches did that, we all kind of said, 'All right, let's get started right now,'" Foreman said. "We know using three or four receivers will be a week-by-week decision depending on who we're playing, but tonight everything just clicked from the beginning."