In a split decision, kicker Pat McAfee gets the nod offensively from the BGN staff straw poll over senior wide receiver Rayshawn Bolden. The sophomore kicked three field goals (38 yards, 39 yards, and a career-high 48 yards) to pace West Virginia's offense in the early going.
Using a stiff wind to his advantage, Pat also kicked five touchbacks on eight possible tries. Unfortunately for Pat, though, he had his streak of two consecutive games with a tackle snapped. Still, we'd bet anyday of the week that Pat would take his three field goal, five touchback performance (his best of the season)over a tackle anyday.
On defense, senior lineman Warren Young gets the nod over youngster Reed Williams. The Eightmile, Ala. native knew he would be playing a lot more snaps this week due to ankle injuries to starters Pat Liebig (who did not travel) and Johnny Dingle (who did not play.) Entering the game on West Virginia's third defensive series, Young played both defensive end and nose tackle.
Statistically, Warren finished with eight tackles (three more than he had in the season's first six games) including 1.5 tackles for a loss. He recorded a sack on UConn quarterback Matt Bonislawski for a loss of ten yards. Without question, it was the best game of Young's career.
He led a defense that turned in its best overall performance of the season. As a team, West Virginia recorded seven TFL's for a total loss of 24 yards. Included in that total are three sacks. After struggling early in the season with pressure, the Mountaineer defense has turned up the heat in recent weeks.
The first game ball goes to Bolden. The senior from Cheektowaga, N.Y. caught three passes for a career-high 95 yards, and a 52 yard touchdown (the first TD of his career.) The catch was the longest of Bolden's career. With his career night, Bolden became yet another weapon in West Virginia's offensive arsenal.
Linebacker Reed Williams gets the second game ball tonight. The former Moorefield (W.Va.) High School Yellow Jacket recorded a team-high nine tackles, and showed off the speed that makes him one of the defense's most versatile players.
The third game ball of the night goes to senior linebacker Kevin "Boo" McLee. Boo recorded six tackles, and picked off his first interception of the 2006 campaign. The interception was the second of McLee's four year career.