Mountaineers provided fireworks every week but one

By Darrell Laurant  |   Wednesday, December 13, 2006  |  Comments( 0 )

West Virginia Mountaineers
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No wonder Rich Rodriguez didn't want to leave. The 2006 season was too much fun.

True, West Virginia didn't win the national championship, or even the Big East. But no one who watched a Mountaineer game (with the exception of a dismal loss to South Florida) can say they didn't get their money's worth. Not with Steve Slaton and Pat White on the field.

In galloping to a 10-2 record, West Virginia averaged 38.9 points a game and rushed for 3,628 yards. Rodriguez's team went over 40 points in eight of 11 contests, and finished with a triple-overtime victory over Rutgers.

Slaton, a first-team AP All-American as a sophomore (center Dan Mozes also made first team, the first time Mountaineer teammates have ever been doubly honored), rushed for 1,862 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. White, the slithery quarterback from Alabama, gained 1,144 on the ground, 1,524 in the air, and accounted for 27 touchdowns. Had he not injured his foot, the South Florida game might well have turned out differently.

Meanwhile, West Virginia was also exciting on defense -- and not always in a good way. After LB Kevin "Boo" McLee, the next four leading tacklers were defensive backs. This might mean that they were catching all the backs that slipped through the first line of defense (not good), or that they were tackling a lot of receivers who caught passes on their watch (also not good). The latter might be closer to the truth, since rival quarterbacks threw for 2,837 yards.

White, Slaton and a number of skill position starters return next season, and Mountaineer fans still have a Gator Bowl matchup with Georgia Tech to look forward to. White should be healed of turf toe and a high ankle sprain by New Year's Day (backup Jarrett Brown played against Rutgers).

Season's high point: Probably a 45-27 rout of Pittsburgh -- at Pitt -- in the annual Backyard Brawl.

Season's low point: The loss to South Florida that cost the Mountaineers any hope of a conference championship.

Offensive Player of the Year: It has to be a tie between Slaton and White. As with peanut butter and jelly, it just wasn't the same with only one of them.

Defensive Player of the Year: McLee had 75 tackles, three sacks and an interception.

Rookie of the Year: Freshman DB Quinton Andrews was a bright spot in an otherwise beleaguered secondary, notching 72 tackles and picking off four passes.

Best surprise: Increased production from wideout Darius Reynaud. Or maybe Rodriguez deciding to turn down Alabama and stick around.

Daily college football coverage, courtesy of RealFootball365.com
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