Midseason review: West Virginia

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Last year's struggles in converting the offense to a more diversified attack have paid dividends in 2009.

West Virginia scored at least 30 points in each of its first five games and probably would have done it a sixth time if quarterback Jarrett Brown hadn't gotten hurt early last week against Marshall. Brown's legs and arms have been put to great use, and tailback Noel Devine is running with a stronger purpose than ever before. The offensive line, which replaced four starters from last year, has come along nicely and the defense has been mostly solid.

Turnovers have posed the biggest problem, especially in the lone loss at Auburn. But that seems to have been cleaned up in the past couple of games. If they can just hold onto the ball, the Mountaineers have enough offensive firepower to run the table in the league the rest of the way. The most difficult games on the schedule still loom, though, and Brown may miss extended time with a concussion.

But West Virginia must be considered a major threat to win the Big East in the second half.

Offensive MVP: Noel Devine. No longer too quick to abandon his blocks, Devine is being more patient -- and productive -- than ever. He has run for 734 yards in six games, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. And he has nine touchdowns after failing to get into the end zone consistently a year ago.

Defensive MVP: Chris Neild. His stats (20 tackles, two for loss) don't jump out. But Neild has helped hold down the defensive front with Scooter Berry missing significant time with injuries. The Mountaineers' defensive line isn't deep and has to be thankful to have Neild playing at a high level.