spring football questions and answers looks at the intangibles of reboudning from stretches of bad play."> spring football questions and answers looks at the intangibles of reboudning from stretches of bad play.">

Answering the Questions - 5

The final in our series of <a href="http://westvirginia.theinsiders.com/2/100981.html">spring football questions and answers</a> looks at the intangibles of reboudning from stretches of bad play.

Can WVU avoid the massive breakdowns that led to three of their four losses in 2002?

As we noted in our preliminary look at this question, there's no magic bullet for this problem. No amount of speechifying by the coaching staff, is likely to help either.

It may sound corny, but much of this answer lies in the players themselves, and in their belief in what they and the coaches are doing. If a player thinks that all the work he's done in the spring and summer is valuable, and believes in it, then he's more likely to stick with it and not panic when things go wrong. And make no mistake, there was some panic on the Mountaineer squad at times last year.

The rest of the solution to this problem lies in leadership. Strong team leaders can hold the squad together during tough times. Last year, the team leaders were able to rally the young players after WVU's tough start and produce an excellent season, but they weren't able to stem the tide quickly enough in a couple of the contests we've mentioned. Will this year's leadership be able to do so?

There's no question about the character and toughness of the leaders that are emerging on this year's team. Rasheed Marshall, Grant Wiley, Quincy Wilson, Brian King and Lance Frazier, among others, have all proven their worthiness both on the field on off. They have led by example and made big plays, which is a necessary step to earning their teammates' respect.

One characteristic that they all share, however, is that they aren't overly vocal. As noted previously, they do all the right things, but they aren't noted for being loud or emotional on the field.

That's not to say that they can't lead this team. We think they will, and that they will do it well. However, it can be good to have different types of leaders on the team, as different players respond to different types of techniques. It might be good to have a Bernard Russ or Barrett Green mixed in with the more laid back approach of some of this year's seniors.

That said, we think the experience and approach of the emerging leaders on this year's team is well suited to heading off bad stretches of play before they can mushroom into an avalanche of opposing points. Calm and collected play at quarterback, and steadying influences at key defensive positions, can go a long way in helping a team get over bad plays and moving on to the next one. We're not saying that West Virginia won't lose any games next year, but we don't think we'll see the kind of meltdowns that marked three of their losses in 2002.

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