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Fear of Jarrett Brown-ing

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Jarrett Brown, West Virginia's senior starting quarterback, has had an up and down season. He torched East Carolina, and followed that game up by throwing 4 interceptions at Auburn. After Brown was hurt against Marshall, it was up to Noel Devine to save the day against UConn, and then the offense slogged through uninspiring performances against USF and Louisville. Given that Pat White may be the most beloved player in Mountaineer history, it may have been asking too much for anyone to fill his shoes.

Rutgers fans have reason to fear Brown though. With White out, Brown started at QB in an absolutely gut-wrenching overtime loss in Morgantown at the end of the 2006 regular season. It was no 80-7, but that loss arguably stung more, with Rutgers not only failing to secure a conference title during its best season in decades, but eventually relegated (once again) to a second-tier bowl against an overmatched opponent. I'm going to put the frustration angle aside for now, because it's sure to come up more during the week.

Here's a thought that may sound heretical, but I do have a very specific reasoning for it, so hear me out. There's no debate that White was an incredible player, and was far superior to Brown. However, for that one specific game, I would have rather played White. The Rutgers defense traditionally has had a lot of speed under Greg Schiano, and they've had a decent amount of experience defending the different flavors of option/spread-option. In 2006, the one achilles heel of the defense was in the secondary. Rutgers ranked 69th in defensive pass effiency, despite finishing fifth in sacks and tackles for loss, and 17th in total rushing defense (surrendering less than three yards per carry, a good number albeit undoubtedly scouted by specific schemes and personnel).

Now, Steve Slaton ran for his customary 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, but that wasn't honestly that bad considering that he averaged 7 yards per carry on the year, and put up comic book numbers against the rest of the schedule. USF (another defense emphasizing speed) was the only team that fared better against the elite Mountaineer rushing attack, and they always have West Virginia's number, just like Rutgers always beats USF, and West Virginia always beats us. Rochambeau.

Now, as amazing an overall player as Pat White was, I didn't think much of him as a passer. He had a lot of screens to backs, and had a big arm for the deep ball, but didn't have much accuracy on the intermediate stuff. Purely in terms of passing, Brown is better. West Virginia had only 305 pass attempts last year, and they're already at 308 with two games remaining. Brown's overall line on the night (1 TD, 1 INT, completed less than 50% of his passes) wasn't that impressive, but he did throw for 8.4 yards per attempt. That indicates many long completions, and I recall a lot of them coming on third and longs. I'm not saying that Brown is anywhere near as good as White (although he is a decent player), or that Rutgers would have necessarily won that game against White. I will always be curious as to how things would have unfolded though.