Realizing injuries may dictate who can play at QB for West Virginia this week, will you describe what each QB brings to the table?
All three are pocket passers, so there's not much difference in that regard. However, Clint Trickett has show the ability to extend plays by getting out of the pocket and sliding away from pressure. He's also not afraid to take a hit in order to get a pass away, so he's a little better handling pressure than either Ford Childress or Paul Millard.
Childress has the clear advantage in arm strength, and can make throws the others can't. His injury (strained pectoral muscle) might affect that advantage.
Millard has been in the program the longest, and thus has the communication skills down to get the calls and operate the offense the quickest. This sounds simple, but there's a lot to it, and it takes at least a year or so to master. Game repetitions are important in this process too.
To what do you attribute the defensive improvement of the Mountaineers in 2013?
While the coaches downplay the scheme changes that were made, it's clear that new defensive coordinator Keith Patterson has put in a system that the players can understand and execute. Last year, broken assignments led to more breakdowns than execution errors, and those have been reduced this year.
WVU also has six defensive linemen that can play and perform well, and that has helped a great deal in limiting the rushing games of opponents. The Mountaineers haven't faced a back of the quality of Lache Seastrunk yet, so that will be a very interesting match-up.
The defense is also getting turnovers and making more big plays. It's also more physical -- that comes form the confidence in being able to execute the defensive scheme. All of those things have come together to help the defense get off the mat.
Who is the one player on offense that has surpassed his expectations in the first 5 games of this season?
Pat Eger, who went into the season as a backup at all three interior line spots, has seized the starting center position. He has played respectably, but the offensive line as a whole has been subpar, so that has affected the view of his play.
Other, than that, there hasn't been a breakout performer on the offense, unless you want to include punter as an offensive position. If you do, then Nick O'Toole is the guy. The junior college transfer routinely flips the field and is a master at kicking a backspinning ball that drops sort of the end zone and pins opponents deep.
Who is the real West Virginia - the team that lost big to Maryland or the team that beat the #11 team in the nation?
Somewhere in the middle. WVU's defense actually played well at Maryland -- 21 of the points in that game were directly the fault of the offense. And WVU did get some breaks against the Cowboys, who dropped a couple of wide open passes and missed a pair of short field goals.
If WVU can continue to improve, it could be a bowl team. After the Bears, every game is winnable. Of course, almost every one could be a loss -- I think there is a big log jam of a number of teams in the Big 12 this year. West Virginia is not a Top 25 team as of now, but it has the chance to be a good if it can gain more consistency on offense.
What is the general sentiment and expectations of the fan base going into the game against Baylor?
That's a loaded question, because WVU's fan base is a long-suffering group that lives and dies with the Mountaineers. There's no Dallas Cowboys to siphon away fan interest -- WVU is THE show in the state. Thus, every loss is a harbinger of doom, while wins can send expectations spiraling.
That said, WVU fans have a great deal of respect for what the Bears have accomplished this year. No matter the opponent, 70 points per game says that there is a great deal of offensive talent. There is hope that the improving defense can execute some of what it did against OSU -- force three or four turnovers and limit third down conversions -- but West Virginia's offense will have to be much better in order to get out of Waco with a win.