The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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College Sports

September 23, 2010

Will WVU ‘dare’ to kick to LSU star?

It came off, as intended, a clear dare: Go ahead, West Virginia, kick the ball to us, a webpage said. Namely, kick to Patrick Peterson.

As dares go, this may be one the Mountaineers, smartly, will turn down.

Thank you, no.

That’s because Peterson, a 6-foot-1, 222-pound junior out of Pompano, Beach, Fla., is good at his craft. Really good.

No. 22 West Virginia (3-0) travels to Baton Rouge, La., to take on No. 15 LSU Saturday. The game kicks off at 9 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

When it comes to returning kicks, Peterson has no equal.

And WVU coach Bill Stewart knows it, quickly rattling off his numbers in the rugged Southeastern Conference.

He is tremendous,” Stewart said Tuesday. “He is averaging 31.7 yards on kickoff returns, with a long of 47 yards, so that means he is getting out there pretty good. His punt returns are also 23.9 yards. He is great. He should be up for the Heisman. The guy is the best defensive back in the country.”

Peterson had 257 combined return yards against North Carolina, including an 87-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Peterson also is a cornerback for the Tigers and has two interceptions.

Peterson, and the Tigers’ defense overall, has WVU’s attention.

“They’re a great defense, physical, fast and they get to the ball,” running back Noel Devine (73 carries, 354 yards, two TDs) said. “They have a good linebacker corps and a good corner (Peterson). Like I said before, we just have to play our game.”

Much has been made about WVU’s second venture into SEC territory in as many years.

WVU lost at Auburn last year 41-30.

 This time, the site is 92,000-seat Tiger Stadium and the atmosphere.

“I am sure every conference has a great opinion of every team in its league,” Stewart said. “The only conference ahead of us in out-of-conference winning percentage is the SEC. We (the Big East Conference) are the second conference behind the SEC and every year we have to apologize because we are thought of as a basketball league. We are 16-6 in bowls and we have beaten some SEC schools. I brag all of the time about us being a physical league.”

At least one Mountaineer, Bruce Irvin, who had three sacks in a 31-17 win over Maryland last week and was the Big East Conference defensive player of the week, said he has heard all about the Mountaineers’ underdog status from one LSU player.

“We’re the underdog and my best friend is a linebacker there, Kelvin Sheppard,” Irvin said. “We were texting (Monday) and they really don’t think we can beat them. We’re going to have to prove them wrong.”

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