NCF Nation: Woodny Turenne

Big East internal affairs

November, 25, 2008
11/25/08
11:11
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

West Virginia: Pat White's carries have gone up in recent games, and the Mountaineers' offense has benefited. The senior quarterback has run the ball at least 20 times in each of his last three games after averaging 11 carries in the three previous contests. He had 200 yards rushing and three touchdowns against Louisville and 109 yards and two scores at Connecticut. "They were throwing it more and handing it off more," Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "Now they're back to a little more of the zone-read stuff and the option stuff. As Pat White goes, so goes their offense. That's been evident all year." West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said he still wants to incorporate a pro-style passing attack into the offense, but the Mountaineers' best chance at winning their last two games may come with White running the ball.

Pittsburgh: Two areas that hadn't been problems for Pittsburgh all season became trouble spots in the loss at Cincinnati. One of the least penalized teams in America, the Panthers were whistled on seven fouls for 50 yards. And an offensive line that had allowed only 18 sacks in its first nine games gave up seven to the Bearcats. "The noise was a factor," Wannstedt said. "That led to false starts. The sacks, I would say, at least half of them -- the quarterback has to get rid of the ball. Whether anyone's open or not, we have to find a way to get rid of the ball and not take sacks."

Cincinnati: Jacob Ramsey leads the Bearcats in rushing, but he's also had trouble with fumbles. He lost one in the Pittsburgh game, a week after he gave away the ball at Louisville. But head coach Brian Kelly said there's not much he can do about it at this point in the season. "We're too far into it right now to be benching guys," Kelly said. "He's got to work on it each week, but we've got to play with the guys we've got. Obviously we don't tolerate it and he's not happy about it. He's got to get through it because he doesn't want to build a reputation of that's something he does each week."

Syracuse: Antwon Bailey hadn't gotten much work lately as Curtis Brinkley became the go-to running back. But after Brinkley's third-quarter fumble led to a Notre Dame field goal on Saturday, the freshman got a chance and took off with it. Bailey finished with 126 yards on 16 carries -- 98 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter -- and scored a touchdown to help power the 24-23 Orange victory. "He's not a surprise," said Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson. "He's a talented young football player, one that I think has a great career ahead of him, on top of his 3.5 GPA and about an 1190 SAT."

Louisville: True freshman Karldell Dunning got his first start at cornerback against West Virginia replacing senior Woodny Turenne, who's out for the season with a broken clavicle. Dunning had three tackles in the 35-21 loss. "I thought Karldell did some really, really good things," head coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "He's a great competitor, he wants to be good. He's going to be a very good player here." The Cardinals secondary has suffered some key losses to injury this season, as safeties Richard Raglin and Latarrius Thomas are also out for the season. Senior safety Bobby Buchanan suffered a back injury against West Virginia but hopes to be ready for next week's game at Rutgers.

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- It looked a lot like 2007 when the Louisville defense gave up a pair of 50-plus yard passing touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Kansas State.

The difference was, this time the Cardinals could merely wince instead of panicking. Leading up to then, they had turned in yet another surprisingly strong defensive effort.

"I thought we played really well for three quarters," defensive coordinator Ron English said. "It's hard when you play a game like that and you don't finish. The thing I like is our guys are disappointed about the way we finished. They're not satisfied."

English did not change water into wine after saying that, though some Louisville fans might believe he could. It's early still, of course, but the former Michigan assistant has turned last year's laughingstock of a defense into something fairly formidable.

Even with those two long passing touchdowns, Kansas State managed only 343 total yards and 22  points on offense (one score came on a punt return). The Wildcats ran for only 30 yards, continuing a promising early trend. Kentucky had only 53 yards on the ground in the opener, while Tennessee Tech mustered just 33 rushing yards.

"We're stout up front and we have a good defensive line," English said. "We're going to be good against the run."

Unlike last year, Louisville is getting pressure on the quarterback. Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman found success early on with play-action passes, but English quickly made the adjustments. Freeman had only 37 yards passing in the second and third quarters.

Cornerback Woodny Turenne was the symbol for much of last year's defensive struggles. He got burned for several big plays, including the game-winner at Kentucky, in his first year coming over from junior college. So far this season, he's been a standout cover guy, and he picked off two passes Wednesday night.

Turenne was asked how much difference English has made.

"A lot," he said. "He's taught us a lot of good techniques."

The Cardinals also recovered a fumble and have created six turnovers in three games, something last year's team struggled to do. They're playing with more emotion and with far better fundamentals this season despite losing some of their top playmakers from '07.

English said he thought the defense "let up a little" in the fourth quarter after building a 35-14 lead. He can live with that if it's his biggest problem.

"Our guys have a lot of confidence," he said. "We're getting better."

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