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What I Learned From WVU vs. UConn: Keep Giving Noel Devine The Damn Ball

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[A month ago, I started to write a story with the same title as above.  For some reason or another, it didn't get published.  Still, a few games later, the premise is still as important as ever.  That premise?  Noel Devine is awesome.]

He's too small.  He'll get hurt.  He's not built for all that punishment.

Those are just a few of the bogus excuses I hear on why Noel Devine shouldn't get the ball at least 25 times a game.  Whenever we need him, Noel Devine is there.  He is the center of this offense, and any efforts to the contrary have ranged from unsuccessful to disastrous.

When Noel Devine gets the ball, good things eventually happen, and why shouldn't that trend continue?

It has become increasingly clear that Jarrett Brown lacks the tools to fully-command an efficient offense for 60 minutes.  Sure, he has the natural ability to shake defenders and, for limited amounts of time, become a game-changer.  But all too often, we see Brown making crucial mistakes in even more crucial moments that derail West Virginia's offense. We saw it at all-too-often at Auburn, and it reared its ugly head again against UConn.

But, just as the fans begin to get restless, Noel Devine takes over.  He provides the lift when no lift seems in sight.  It's not without hesitation that I say that Noel Devine single-handedly won the football game Saturday.  Without him, or even with a back just slightly less-skilled, we don't walk out of Mountaineer Field victorious.  It was as impressive as impressive gets.

Then, consider his quote from the post-game:

That's what football is all about - making big plays when your teammates need you.

It just makes him that much more impressive, as a player and teammate.

Noel Devine has grown to become the cornerstone of this football team.  We need to continue to trust him with the outcome of our season, because nothing he has done so far has proven he won't deliver.  Wherever we are going this season, Devine is taking us there.

And based on the UConn game, I hesitate to put a limit on my expectations.