The Sock 'Em, Bust 'Em Board Because that's our custom

Wes Lyons would like you to take a seat, Leon Best

Wes Lyons, finally healthy after working through a knee injur most of the summer, had been coming along nicely in recent games and practices before his brutal block on East Carolina’s Leon Best.

Not sure what was more impressive: The thorough execution on the block or Andre Ware saying Lyons hit Best “right in the mustache.” Let’s give Lyons the nod as he provided the exclamation mark on a very nice day for the wide receivers.

“I saw him coming the whole way,” Lyons said. “He peeked at me at the last second, so he probably saw me coming, but it was a little too late.”

Indeed and it’s probably a good time for the receivers to attract some attention. South Florida’s collective speed on defense will make it difficult for the Mountaineers to spread the field and get players free in open space. Receiver blocking on the perimeter and down the field will be necessary to keep the Bulls from pursuing plays and rallying to the ball.

Bulls eager hosts

Credit South Florida for embracing and not denying the fact it’s looking forward to playing West Virginia Friday at 8 p.m. Friday on ESPN.

USF cornerback Mike Jenkins said Leavitt admitted he started looking to West Virginia in the fourth quarter.

“Coach Leavitt’s exact words: ‘I don’t want to lie, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about West Virginia,'” Jenkins said. “But then again, everybody was.”

With Carolina no longer on their minds, the Bulls (3-0) have set the stage for one of the biggest college football games to be played in Tampa. It could be a matchup of top-20 teams depending on how far USF moves up the polls today.

The Bulls are up to No. 18 in both polls, which came as no surprise, but a bit of a disappointment to WVU Coach Rich Rodriguez. He votes in the coaches’ poll and while he wouldn’t reveal where he placed the Bulls, he did provide a hint during his teleconference Sunday.

I believe South Florida is better than 18. They’re higher than that, in my opinion.

About 3,000 tickets remain in Raymond James Stadium (65,000 capacity). It’s expected to be the largest crowd and the first sellout in USF football history. The bandwagon got rolling in Saturday’s game against North Carolina.

Linebacker Brouce Mompremier said he has never heard USF’s students louder in the north end zone, especially in forcing a false start when UNC had third and goal on the USF 5.

“That was incredible,” he said. “I couldn’t hear anything, but that’s better for us. When I saw that false start, I said, ‘Oh, thank God.’ “


Yes, Louisville’s defense is very suspect and it was entering yesterday’s game against Syracuse. Yet the Cardinals were 36 1/2 point favorites playing at home, so it was a major surprise to see them go down as they did. The Orange offense had been wildly ineffective, but scored on 79-, 60- and 42-yard touchdown passes plus a 93-yard kickoff return. Andrew Robinson threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns. Andrew Robinson had thrown for 486 yard and one touchdown his first three games.

Allow the Louisville Courier-Journal to provide today’s ice breaker with this headline.

There is no joy, but there are a lot of problems.

Perhaps the most troubling thing about these Cardinals, other than the porous defense, is their tendency to hurt themselves with mental errors. That was never more apparent than during yesterday’s 38-35 upset loss to Syracuse.

The Cards had four turnovers and continued to commit penalties at an alarming rate. They came into the game as the 13th most-penalized team (of 119) in the Football Bowl Subdivision, then drew 12 more flags for 105 yards. Coach Steve Kragthorpe has been harping on it since the opener against Murray State, but to no avail.

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A reason to root for Notre Dame

It was 363 days ago when Michigan State wasted a sizable lead at home to Notre Dame, a monumental collapse that more or less got John L. Smith fired, even if it wasn’t official until Nov. 1.

(Who else misses JLS?) 

As far as college games go, this was an entertaining, if not predictable turn of events in East Lansing. As good as the Spartans played in the first half, they were just as bad and probably much worse in the second half, which was a vivid illustration of complete incompetence by the coaches and the players.

And in case you weren’t convinced Michigan State had lost the game more than Notre Dame had won it, you had Detroit sports talk radio host — and MSU grad — Mike Valenti deliver a raving rant two days later.

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West Virginia fans might remember Cooper Rego as the touted tailback who originally enrolled at Notre Dame but was dismissed after getting in some trouble he denied ever happened.

(Vague, yes, but this isn’t the place to rehash all those stories. He was a pleasant person while at WVU from 1999-2001).

Well, he never turned the potential into a football career, but nevertheless did find himself under the lights. Rego is a standup comedian. Serious. He performs in the New York area and on East Coast college campuses and appears to have a nice little thing going.

But what about that TV?

Cornerback Ellis Lankster and linebacker J.T. Thomas were reinstated by West Virginia Coach Rich Rodriguez Thursday and will be available when the Mountaineers play host to East Carolina tomorrow. It should eventually be a nice boost to a developing defense.  

A few questions have already popped up and a few more need to rise to the surface, so here are some things that have come to the minds of many since learning the nation’s No. 5-ranked team welcomes the services of two projected starters.

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One for the thumb?

Chris Henry, as you might have noticed, has a way of finding trouble. It’s something the former West Virginia receiver has surely been thinking about as he serves the eight-game suspension mandated by the NFL this summer. Four arrests in 14 months will have that effect on any commissioner.

Well, now it seems as if trouble might have returned the favor.

An officer spotted a car he did not recognize parked in the Cincinnati Bengal’s driveway, ran the license plates and discovered the car had been reported stolen by a rental-car company.

Henry told investigators that his own vehicle had been stolen in Louisiana, where he is from originally, and he rented a car from Hertz.

Proof that Henry’s reputation precedes him, police officers happen to pass his house often enough to recognize which cars are and are not his … then feel compelled to run the plates of the unfamiliar cars. Seems unfair since Henry has been a good neighbor.

This could be a misunderstanding and authorities probably won’t throw the book at Henry, which is probably for the best because he would likely catch it, spike it and then cross his arms and stare.

Attorney Alex Shook, who is representing West Virginia linebacker J.T. Thomas III, said this morning he does not expect that a preliminary hearing will be rescheduled in Monongalia County Magistrate Court.

Thomas and cornerback Ellis Lankster face felony charges of receiving and transferring stolen goods.

“I’ve been in constant communication with the prosecutor’s office trying to bring about a quick resolution that is in everyone’s best interests,” Shook said.

Shook said he’d been working with Monongalia County Prosecuting Attorney Marcia Ashdown late last week and earlier this week on an agreement. He’d declined to offer specifics.

“Marsha Ashdown is an experienced prosecutor who has handled hundreds, if not thousands of cases involving university students,” Shook said. “I’d expect a similar outcome based on precedents in the past.”

Shook, from Moundsville, played fullback and tight end at WVU and lettered from 1988-91.

He rushed for 129 yards, averaged 4.4 yards per carry and scored one touchdown on the ground his first three seasons, then moved to tight end and caught 23 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns as a senior. Shook was also a member of the College Football Association’s Scholar-Athlete Team in 1991.

Lankster, Thomas mystery evolves

The mystery that surrounds the cases against Ellis Lankster and J.T. Thomas III continues to evolve.

A preliminary hearing was delayed last week and has not been rescheduled in Monongalia County Magistrate Court. Magistrate Jim Nabors, who was scheduled to see Lankster and Thomas Sept. 10, is working nights this week and has no hearings scheduled. He returns to the office next week, when he’ll set a date for Lankster and Thomas.

Unless, of course, recent rumblings are true, which is where this story takes another turn.

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