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WVU-UNLV Preview: Week Off Does 'Eers Good

After its week four loss to LSU, West Virginia needed a week off.

Clayton's toughness has impressed WVU coach Bill Stewart.

“We needed the rest,” Mountaineer wide receiver Jock Sanders said. “Everyone was tired after going through fall camp and then four weeks of the schedule. That’s seven weeks of football, and it kind of took a toll on the team.”

But now, after having two weeks to stew over the a hige game that they could have -- and perhaps should’ve -- won, it’s time for the Mountaineers to move on as they play host to UNLV on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.

Although it may look like one the surface, the game may be no cakewalk for the Mountaineers.
Coming into Saturday’s game, West Virginia is far ahead of the Rebels in every statistical category, including the win-loss record. But UNLV’s 1-4 mark isn’t as telling as one would think.

Of their four losses, three of them have come to teams that were ranked in the top 25 when they faced them.

They’re led on offense by senior quarterback Omar Clayton. Clayton had his best overall game of the season in last week’s loss to No. 21 Nevada, completing 14 of 23 passes for 214 yard and a touchdown as well as running for a team-high 75 yards.

In that game, he one drive in particular that impressed West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart.

“I saw Omar Clayton take a shot and I don’t know how he is walking. He’s tough, he hung in there,” Stewart said. “When Clayton was hit that hard and then went down to lead his team (into the end zone), that really showed his grit.”

The biggest question mark glaring the Rebels in the eyes all season long has been their defensive woes.

They’re allowing just over 390 yards per game and have been susceptible to the big plays. In their first five games of the season, the Rebels have given up four touchdowns of 40 or more yards, something that could prove beneficial to the Mountaineers come Saturday.

While that’s UNLV’s biggest concern, West Virginia’s is the health of some of their key players on both sides of the ball.

But, of course, the most noteworthy of those injuries is the bruised toe of running back Noel Devine. While it’s very likely as of now that Devine will play, how much the fans will see him out on the field won’t be answered until Saturday.

Until then, all that you can do is speculate as to who exactly will be out there to spell their senior playmaker.

The one back who has received a lot of talk over the course of the past week is freshman Trey Johnson who burst onto the scene at the end of fall camp, turning the heads of both the coaching staff and his fellow players.

“He’s been outstanding thus far,” Sanders said. “He’s been behind a guy like Noel so how can you not pick up some of his tendencies, how can he not pick up some of the things that Noel do.

“Knowing you’re behind a guy like Noel, when you watch him, you put things in your pocket and every time Trey gets a chance he makes plays.”

Another thing that Stewart is concerned about is that, in a game against an opponent that they should be able to handle pretty well, his team could begin looking ahead to next Thursday’s Big East opener against South Florida.

“I like to think we are mature enough, even though we have a sophomore quarterback, that when we get in the huddle the seniors take control,” Stewart said. “(The young guys) are going to be told that our whole emphasis is on UNLV this weekend.”

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