November 14, 2007

More carries; maybe; but on a 'sorry team'

MORGANTOWN--For a guy whom some believe either is mad about his playing time or wants to go elsewhere, Noel Devine is certainly putting on a good front.

The 2006 YouTube blur came to West Virginia in July amid projections of All-American fortune and a role in the fastest ground game on cleats. He has held up his end to the bargain.

As BCS-6th-ranked West Virginia's season rolls merrily along to an unprecedented fifth straight January bowl--provided it keeps its end of the bargain in these last three regular season games--Devine has been a bonanza--albeit a quiet one.

He has returned more kickoffs (13) for more yardage (289) on a 8-1 team that already had two excellent return men (Darius Reynaud and Vaughn Rivers). His long has been 41. He says now he hopes to break one before this season ends.

Everyone, including head coach Rich Rodriguez, wants him to touch the ball more. Devine currently is third on a team that averages almost 290 rushing yards per game in rushing. He happens to have a returning All-American and a Heisman Trophy candidate who have received 288 of the Mountaineers' total 435 carries.

Yet his numbers--46 touches from the line of scrimmage for 410 yards and 3 TDs--are provocative. This amounts to almost 9 yards every time he gets his hands on the ball; not counting his returns.

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