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    Saturday, October 25, 2008

    Alone in first place?!?!

    In the words of my son, "Didn't see that one coming".

    Clearly our destiny is in our own hands. I think it's likely we'll crack the top 25 just so that one Big East team might be represented! I don't know how I feel about that. There appears to be a lot of parity across college with a couple of teams with more talent (USC, Georgia) that still can be upset.

    Does this mean Penn St. is this year's Ohio St? I don't think Alabama would dominate them. But Texas, USC, Georgia and probably Oklahoma would. Hopefully, we'll get a shot at the ACC in the Orange Bowl. I think we could beat FSU.

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Finally! (and some basketball news)

    This is what we've been waiting for! At the beginning of the year, the general consensus was that our offense would have to carry the load for the early part of the year while the defense was coming together. This game then would have been a measuring stick for the defense as we prepared do defend our Big East title. Well, both sides of the ball did come together and play well and it couldn't have come at a more important time as there is obviously still a lot to play for this season. We will need to continue to play this well if we are going to win the Big East.

    Offense: A

    Enough credit can't be given to Coach Mullen for the performance of the offense last night. The play calling and execution was as smooth as could be, using the many weapons that WVU has. If not for Pat White's pick and the terrible officiating on Auburn's first offensive possession, we probably would have hung 10-14 more points on Auburn. The offensive line did a tremendous job of limiting penetration and creating seems that Devine and others took advantage of all night long. I recall only one drop by WR's (which should have been a TD) and the blocking on the edges and downfield was tremendous. I suspect that we did not see Jarrett Brown so that his body may heal a little bit and we were still successful on short yardage situations with White and Devine converting on occasions. I hope that this trend continues and we see less of Brown so that he remains healthy if we need him. He's known for a long time that he would have to wait 'til '09 to get his time and the lack of playing time shouldn't bother him. Where were the penalties? This statistic shouldn't be under appreciated concerning the success of the offense last night. Pat White did look a little hesitant running the ball after his first successful run and only ended up with about 10 or 15 yards rushing on the night. That's a little concerning considering what is at stake for him.

    Defense: B

    Three terrible officiating calls were made on Auburn's first offensive possession on second down plays. Additionally, there was a terrible spot on a 3rd and 1 play on that drive as well. After that long drive and Pat White's quick interception, I was worried that our defense was going to get wore down and struggle as a result. They had been performing well but still having trouble stopping Auburn on 3rd down. Once WVU drove the ball 93 yards and the defense got a chance to catch their breath, they excelled for the rest of the evening continuing to shut down the running game especially. They didn't get a lot of pressure on Burns and he was able to create some space for himself at times. That's something for the coaches to keep an eye on for future games against those types of QB's. Tackling was also excellent. Both TD drives by Auburn started from inside WVU's 35 yard line.

    Special Teams: D+

    They didn't give up a blocked kick or a TD which is the most important thing. McAfee played very well in his duties. But there were 5 bad plays on special teams: 2 kick returns over 60 yards. 1 fumble on a punt return. 1 muff on a punt return. 1 onside kick successful against us. All of this needs to be addressed.

    On to some basketball news. If you saw the game on TV, I'm sure you heard the conversation w/ Coach Huggins during the game. As was indicated, WVU was picked to finish 9th in basketball in the conference by the Big East coaches. Of course you all know this is not unfamiliar territory. Here is a breakdown of WVU's predicted order of finish and results for the last four years.

    2005: WVU predicted 9th. Finished 7th and advanced to NCAA Elite 8.
    2006: WVU predicted 5th. Finished 3rd and advanced to NCAA Sweet 16.
    2007: WVU predicted 12th. Finished 7th and won NIT.
    2008: WVU predicted 10th. Finished 5th and advanced to NCAA Sweet 16.

    As you can see WVU has made the Sweet 16 in 3 of the last 4 years. One of only 5 schools in the country to do so and we had one of the top recruiting classes in the country. For such a strong league, the rest of the coaches sure don't seem to have a lot of foresight. (Coaches do not vote for their own teams in the poll)

    The national TV schedule for WVU Basketball has also been released:

    ESPN or ESPN2
    Dec 9, Davidson (Jimmy V Classic in NYC)
    Jan 22, Syracuse
    Feb 4, Pitt
    Feb 13, Villanova
    Feb 26, Cincinnati
    Mar 7, Louisville

    WVU will also play on CBS against Ohio State on Dec 27.

    Fun put back into WVU Football!!!


    I dressed in my Gold and went to Mylon Puskar stadium in hopes of seeing the team I know and love. I was not disappointed. I saw the offense show up for 4 quarters for the first time this season. I realize that Pat threw two pics (completely out of character) in a row, but then he settled down and threaded some needles. I saw the offensive line show up for the first time this year as well. I would point out that Auburn was giving up less than 120 yards of rushing offense a game coming into last night's tilt. Noel Devine rushed for 207 on 17 carries himself. What I did last night was actually enjoy the Mountaineer experience. This felt the way it is suppose to feel. Pat White for the 4th straight time took the SEC to task. WVU is now undefeated against Georgia Mississippi State and Auburn. Not a lot of teams can make that claim.



    The SEC has not found a way to slow down the zone-blocking scheme. In large measure this is due to the fact that it is only utilized by two teams with any regularity, Florida and Vanderbilt. What that scheme is designed to do is to eliminate the edge of the "fast" defense. It basically takes what is given to it. And for the first time this year the offensive line looked like the one that received all of the pre-season love.




    With all of the love I am giving the offense I would be remiss if I didn't tout the "D". Wow what a performance. This unit has been the best of the team for the entire season and Jeff Castille is to be commended. It was dealt crappy hands all night long and still only gave up 17 points. That is to say that it didn't give up a score in 3 quarters. I was particularly impressed with its 3 and out, following the ingenious onside kick call/execution by Auburn. This followed a goal line stand. It is that kind of stinginess that has lead to the 5 wins we have had. Suffice to say they have come to play. The special teams, not so much. Work is left to be done before we enter the meat of the Big East for sure. But alas, the prize is awaiting us for the taking. A Big East Championship and a BCS Bowl is the reward for a five game winning streak from this day forward. GO EERS.




    DA GEEK

    That's what I was talking about.

    It seems the demise of the Mountaineers may have been exagerrated.

    Let's give credit where credits due. Great play calling by Mullens. We ran when they put 4 up front and threw the ball when they brought pressure. WE PUNTED ONCE!! Just think if Pat had a better game. He had a couple of nice TD passes and one heck of a run by Jalloh. But he certainly is telegraphing passes. Auburn was able to stop Pat on the run but it seems at the expense of letting Devine loose. BIG MISTAKE! I was impressed with all of our runners... looked good, ran hard, and broke tackles.

    That looked like the o-line that was advertised preseason. I particularly remember a roll out pass to the left where the line slid down the line of scrimmage and it just looked like a perfectly formed wall. Nice! And of course Devine TD run where the camera angle showed the line of scrimmage open up like the Red Sea. Turns out Moses was Devine.

    Defense played solid and certainly made adjustments to stop the run. Now fix our kickoff coverage!

    A couple of notes: I hate to loose Scooter Berry!!! Anyone heard anything yet?

    And did anyone else think that the linesman on the Auburn sideline made many bad calls and was particularly bias in his spots? The first drive alone he missed the incomplete pass and gave them a first down spot on about the 40 when he looked a couple feet short. He also was standing directly in front of a blatant face mask on Devine and didn't throw the flag. The back judge 10 yards down field had to throw it. Seriously, this guy should be evaluated. These things tend to be overlooked in a win, but he was horrible on an otherwise excellent crew.

    Greg

    (Greg added this link in a follow up comment so I added it to his post: Terry Bowden Da Geek)

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Boyd decommits!!!

    That's right Mountaineer faithful. Our number one recruit cried no joy. He will now seek other opportunities. I suppose this is an answer to the what does 4 and 2 mean. Logan Heastie says he is still solid to WVU but is this the beginning of a trend?


    DaGeek

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    4-2 What does it mean?

    We are half way done with the season. Where are we? For WVU fans everywhere this seems to be the question. I don't presume to have the answers and that is very disturbing. You see, when Rich Rod was here I knew where we stood. I simply can not get a read on this team. The defense has once again been the difference between 4-2 and 2 and 4. Without them we would be lost completely. The truth is that we are still in the hunt for a BCS bowl (mathematically), but are we realistically? We have now beaten the two cellar dwellers of our conference. That means that we now face tougher contests from here on out.

    Every year under the previous leadership we were cruising by this time. Right now we are, to say the least, struggling as an offence. The offense is offensive as was coined earlier this year on this blog. I listen to the state-wide sportsline and hear Greg Hunter espouse the party line, ""we lost 2/3s of our offensive firepower from last year." So what? Every college of any clout loses talent every year. Not every college returns Noel Devine or Pat White. Hunter also said that Oklahoma is not a legit perennial top 10 team. So I guess you consider the source. I am sick and tired of the Stuart staff apologists. Coming from me that should carry some clout, as I swallow the Mountaineer cool aid by the gallon. The fact is that we are under-achieving!!! We are being out-coached on the offensive side of the ball. How exactly do we underachieve when we have the best duel-threat quarterback to ever play the game? Part of that answer, in my humble opinion, is under-utilization. As was stated by Weezie earlier this year, limiting Pat's touches is simply ridiculous. Let me be clear, I am not criticising the staff for keeping him out of the Syracuse game for injury reasons. It is when he is in the game that I have problems with his utility.

    Auburn is our next contest. At the beginning of the season that might have meant something, however right now it is a game that can deliver nothing for us. It will not further legitimize a good season, as they have not one vote in either polls, and it will not hurt us in the Big East race, barring any injuries. It is just a mid season "who cares." I really never thought I would approach this game like that but that is what has developed. Obviously, I want to win and I will be wearing my gold at the game on that Thursday night.

    So where does that leave this team?

    I truly hope it leaves us in the hunt for the Big East Championship. WE SHALL SEE.

    Da Geek

    Tuesday, October 7, 2008

    Off Topic

    I know this is a blog about WVU sports, but I saw an article today that is an issue with all West Virginians and I thought of bringing up the topic here. The battle over Coal River Mountain

    The impact and costs of mountaintop coal removal is rarely talked about or seen in the national media nor by politicians. I believe this to be a result of Congress having little to no pressure from the people regarding the environmental negative impact along with a powerful lobbying interest by companies in the coal business. The coal industry has been very powerful influence in West Virginia for a very long time. Many people have fed and supported their families from the good wages they have earned in the mines. So sometimes speaking about coal in West Virginia is like speaking about religion and politics to everyone, it's sure to spark an argument. I certainly don't claim to know all of the facts and figures regarding the coal industry's impact on WV, so if anyone has more information, please provide it with a comment.

    Coal companies have long desired to extract coal using mountaintop removal because of the tremendous reduction in the cost of retrieval. One of the reasons it is so much cheaper is because very little labor is used. This means tens of thousands of fewer jobs than traditional mines would require. (mine safety is an obvious issue that also needs to be remedied) Forcing these companies to use more traditional mines would immediately employ a large portion of the state. It would also reduce the tremendous negative impact that mountaintop removal is having on the streams of West Virginia.

    The negative result would be that home energy costs around the nation would increase. I think that some of this cost could be negated by using these "saved" mountaintops into providing and investing in wind technology. The next "Manhattan Project" in this country will be the search for viable alternative clean energy. West Virginia could be a prime piece of real estate for some of the investments that could be made. The time to push to be a part of this is now. And the first step is to put pressure on the coal industry and our politicians that we will not tolerate the raping of our land anymore and that we want to be leaders in new energy technology, not the ones left behind.

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    Have we become a laughing stock?

    Sometimes people around West Virginia have a way of making you feel like that when you criticize the coach, you are not supporting your team. I think these are the same people that worshipped Don Nehlen during his 15+ year streak of losing bowl games. Kind of like when they say that when you criticize our governments foreign policy, you aren't supporting the troops. I suspect that these West Virginians that tell people not to boo at the games or that we shouldn't be overly critical of these new coaches also voted for Bush so I don't pay them any mind. But WVU fans have developed a reputation of being a little over emotional shall we say about the decisions regarding the direction of the football team. (I blame Ken Kendrick) So it was affirming to see an article from New Jersey regarding their opinion of how things went down on Saturday. NJ.com

    Saturday, October 4, 2008

    We can thank Bill Stewart

    for the nagging doubt I started feeling with WVU up 14. Not something I've felt more than a couple times in the last few years- but we should probably all get used to it.


    Bill Stewart has an unacceptable outlook on risk/reward. You could make entirely reasonable arguments for going for it on 4th down or for punting. But there is no justification for running ANY play that has more than a minute chance of blowing up and losing significant yardage.


    I don't have a fundamental problem with the squib kick- that TD we coughed up was a result of a consistent pattern of too little pressure and inability to cover one of Teel's two favorite spots to throw (over the middle). I do credit our defense with defending the other- the long ball- serviceably.


    In the end- we were bailed out by Rutgers' even greater incompetence. We can probably count on that when it comes to Syracuse too. But it's not going to save our ass from Auburn, nor South Florida, Connecticut, Pitt or Louisville. Clock management has already been discussed, but it's risk management that Stewart needs to work on or we're going to look back at the end of the season and Colorado won't be the only game we've needlessly squandered.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    The 2nd Season Begins

    We've experienced preliminary portion of the season that allow teams to position themselves for the national championship. Now we begin the games that determine who gets to play for the rest of the BCS bowls. The bad news for WVU is that they still need to improve in order to have a chance at the Big East title. The good news is that the schedule sets up nicely for them to do so. Rutgers this week and Syracuse next week should not be significant challenges.

    The defense of Rutgers may still be quite physical, but they have not been a threat to anyone on the offensive side of the ball. The past few years, I thought maybe Syracuse was trying to establish themselves as an academic school. However, with the upsurge of Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Duke, they can't even claim to be in the same class as them anymore. Those games follow with Auburn which is meaningless, except for a possible return to the top 25. That would put our first big challenge in the Big East in November when we play at UConn. That gives the team a whole month to improve.

    And despite some success against Marshall, there are areas in need of improvement. Penalties continue to be a major problem for this team. All year they have contributed to WVU not being able to convert on 3rd down on offense and in keeping opponents' drives alive on Defense. Given that those two things appear to be our biggest problems, decreasing penalties would go a long way to alleviate those issues.

    Though there were impressive offensive yardage stats against Marshall, I'm still not confident in the abilities of Coach Stew and Coach Mullen to run the offense. Many out there are excited about the infusion of Jarrett Brown in the offense. Count me as one against. The wrinkle appeared to work on third and short which was a huge problem against Colorado. Maybe it will be effective in 3rd and short in the future, but Marshall was already being manhandled routinely and 3rd and short would possibly not have continued to be a problem against them anyway. On the other two times Brown was in the game, neither was successful. On 1st and 10, Brown hands to White and White's flip to the receiver is mishandled and WVU recovers for a loss. WVU punts two plays later. On 1st and 17 after a penalty, Brown takes the snap and runs for 2 yards. WVU punts two plays later. Of course, neither of those stalled drives are Brown's fault and the demise of the second was also a result of a penalty. My point is, other than the drive at the end of the half, those are the only two drives we didn't score on in the first half. So instead of being ahead 28/35 - 3 in the first half, we were up by 11. We drove the ball at will with our base offense, but when we got cute, we got stopped. And what's the reasoning? You have the most dynamic player in college football and you want to limit his touches on 1st down?

    We have already improved in some areas though. We did get better on 3rd down and the offensive line and especially the wide receivers were blocking a lot better. The defense seems to be coming together a little bit as a unit, however I am hearing that Reed Williams is still hurting and considering a medical redshirt. I still think WVU has a chance to come together even more and because the way their schedule sets up, still has a shot to win the Big East. I wouldn't necessarily bet on them to do it right now, but I'm not counting them out either. The thing I would like to see most from this team however, is Pat White's run to glory. Pat should easily break the all time QB NCAA rushing record this year and the sooner he does it, the happier I'll be. I think he still needs a little more than 400 yards to get there. I think it's time for someone to get working on a statue of Pat White or a bust or something that we can put in the tunnel immediately after the South Florida game to commemorate the greatest student athlete to ever wear the Mountaineer football uniform.

    Youtube Highlights for South Florida Game

    Big East Champions

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