Fri 10/28/10 8:00 PM
Syracuse L 19-14
Louisville L 26-0
Series: WVU 6-0
First Meeting: 2004
Last Meeting: 2009
BACKUP TO THE BACKUP
With Cody Endres off the team and Michael Box ruled out with a concussion, UConn will apparently again turn the reins over to senior quarterback Zach Frazer. The Huskies haven't announced that as a certainty, but they only have one other QB, freshman Leon Kinnard, who has thrown a pass in a game this year. Would head coach Randy Edsall start another new quarterback with no experience in this contest? It seems unlikely, but with a season hanging on the brink of failure, he might not rule out any options.
Once such wild card he could draw is freshman Scott McCummings, who would seem destined for a redshirt. However, McCummings has one interesting tidbit on his biography – he hails from the same hometown, Natick, Mass., as a slightly more well-known signal caller – Doug Flutie. Given Flutie's history against West Virginia, though, that bit of trivia probably doesn't worry Mountaineer fans.
West Virginia's first two opponents opened the season by missing all three of their field goal attempts. Coastal Carolina misfired on two 40+ yarders, while Marshall missed a game-extending 39-yard try. Since then, however, foes have been a perfect 10-10 against WVU on place kicks.
Need a nice side wager to keep things interesting during the game? Get together with whoever you're watching the game with, and predict the quarter and time when ESPN talking heads first bring up the Big East's down season. Closest to the actual quarter and time in the quarter wins whatever stakes the group puts up. To add more spice, let participants add a bonus wager on the number of plays that ESPN will totally ignore while the on-air talent discusses this or other topics.
You can also do the same for a discussion of the BCS-worthiness of Boise State and TCU.
One of my friends noted that he and a group of friends play a variation of the old "Hi, Bob" game, except they do it each time "BCS" is spoken. I'm not advocating that, as I would imagine all of the participants would be hopelessly inebriated by the middle of the second quarter.
One of the much-debated philosophies of West Virginia's offense is the stated goal of getting into manageable third down situations. While that's certainly an admirable goal, it shouldn't be the driving force behind play calling in all events. If it's second and 11, that shouldn't automatically call for a play with a goal of a five- or six-yard gain. Would it be so bad to cut loose and go for a first down sometimes?
Obviously, I understand that the WVU offense isn't trying to gain just those few yards. Receivers and runners aren't aiming to gain only part of the necessary yardage. But it seems, at times, that they are being limited by the choice of plays.
Take a look at last week's game. WVU had 14 second and long situations, where it needed seven or more yards for a first down. It ran on four of those, and passed on ten – a seemingly acceptable ratio. But of those ten passes, only one attacked downfield anywhere near the first down sticks. That play, a 20-yard completion to Tavon Austin on second and eight, was the only pass of the ten which resulted in a first down. What's more, WVU rarely succeeded in getting into those manageable third down situations. Only three times (a pair of third-and-ones and a third-and-four), did West Virginia get to that goal.
RED (LIGHT) ZONE
West Virginia's defense has obviously been outstanding in 2010, but here's a stat that really emphasizes it. The Mountaineers have yielded just eight touchdowns from scrimmage this season (LSU's punt return was the only other TD). Of those, just one came on the ground.
We all want to know as much as we can about our team, but there's a line that has to be drawn at times. Reporting on personal issues affecting college students is one of those areas. Detailed descriptions of practices are another.
It used to be that reporters were allowed to watch practices, with the mostly-unstated understanding that certain things were off-limits to reporting. Formations, specific plays being run (especially trick plays) and the like were seen, but not shared. One of the unfortunate side effects of the information age, however, was the proliferation and quick dissemination of everything that could be seen, especially by non-professionals whose only interest was to tell others what they saw. Thus, coaches began banning media from practices.
But now comes a report that takes the progression once step further. UConn coach Randy Edsall moved his practice indoors on Wednesday due to the the fact that his Tuesday practice was spied and reported on – apparently by someone in a UConn dorm room.
This begs the question – is it more important for you to a) know that your team practiced a triple reverse pass on Tuesday, or b) have them spring it as a surprise that scores a touchdown against your most hated opponent?
How much will WVU assistant coach Dave McMichael be able to tell his team and fellow coaches about UConn? McMichael was a Husky assistant for the past nine seasons before returning to West Virginia during the off season, so he is certainly familiar with most of the key personnel, as well as some of the strategic thinking employed by UConn head coach Randy Edsall. However, with the ready availability of game tapes and a library of past games to watch, is there really a great deal more that a coach can share about his former squad?