Rasheed Ready to Return

As he lay on the turf after taking a wicked shot from Wisconsin linebacker Alex Lewis, more than 60,000 anxious Mountaineer fans held their breath.

"There goes the season," more than one WVU supporter said as Marshall lay writing on the field.

Of course, we all know now that backup quarterback Charles Hales came in and delivered a solid performance. In fact, it was so solid that mroe than a few people were questioning the decision to return Rasheed to the field.

Much has been made since the Mountaineers' 24-17 loss to Wisconsin about a supposed quarterback controversy in Morgantown. When Marshall went down with the aforementioned abdominal injury early in the closing minutes of the first quarter, junior Charles Hales stepped in and proceeded to march West Virginia 60 yards down the field all the way to the endzone for a Gold and Blue touchdown.

"Chachie", as Hales is known to his teammates, continued to play well and led WVU on two more scoring drives and a 17-7 lead. Wisconsin scored a field goal on their very next possession to bring the score to 17-10 before Hales gave way to Rasheed, who was cleared to play the final quarter of the contest.

I am sure you know the rest of the story. Injuries began to take their toll on the Mountaineers as Quincy Wilson, Grant Wiley, and Jahmile Addae all missed time with injuries. The Badgers began to click, and when the dust cleared, Barry Alvarez and company left "Touchdown City" with a win.

That wasn't the whole story, however. Far from it. The questions began even before the final gun had sounded. "Why did he not just stick with Hales?" asked many of the Mountaineer faithful. "Why ruin the momentum?" Some fans recalled the pulling of qhot quarterback Jake Kelchner after his 7-7 performance in the opening quarter of the 1993 Sugar Bowl.

The answers to these questions are numerous, but we'll save that for another day. The bottom line is, like it or not, Rasheed is the quarterback as long as he is capable of being in the game.

There is no quarterback controversy at West Virginia, and there will not be one anytime soon. Marshall knows that the job is his, and being replaced has not crossed his mind. He has, however, had time over the weekend to reflect on the hit he took on Saturday.

"I do not remember a hit in my career that came close to this one," Marshall admitted. "The pain was still there when I had to watch it over and over again on the news. I had to laugh about it a little with my friends but it still hurt."

Rasheed still remembers seeing the blitzing Lewis running after him after he released the ball, but after watching the film, the junior is confident that it was a clean hit that put him out.

"Once you see things on the film it is totally different. It was definitely a clean hit." Rasheed admits that the hit is sure to always be in the back of his mind, but the agile signal caller is ready to put it behind him and move on with his junior season.

"I am good to go" said a determined Marshall after finishing a spirited Monday practice session. "We need to put Wisconsin in the past and go out there and get the win on Saturday."

For the Pittsburgh native, Saturday night in North Carolina cannot come soon enough. "We feel that we were close enough against Wisconsin to win, but we just let it slip away," admitted Marshall. "I think a lot of people are anxious for Saturday to get here so that we can redeem ourselves and prove what type of a team we have."

Although number 2 readily admits that the hit he took on Saturday was the hardest of his career, he promises that the memory of that play will not be a problem this weekend.

"I am just going to go out and approach this like any other game" the Brashear High School product explained. "Getting hit is just the game of football and if you are going to play it, that is what you have to be ready for. I just have to put those worries out of my head and go out and play the game."

Rasheed appears to be ready both mentally and physically to hit the field on Saturday, and for my money there is nobody I would rather see leading this team. Marshall has won big games before and he is sure to win many more before he leaves the Mountain State.


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