Rasheed or Not Rasheed: That is the Question

The topic of discussion that filled most dinner tables throughout the Mountain State on an unseasonably warm Monday night was not the weather, not the upcoming elections, not the results of the New York marathon, and at last not burning couches and pepper spray.

Instead, the most pressing issue on the minds of Mountaineer fans was whether or not Rasheed Marshall will be ready to start this Saturday in Chestnut Hill. After taking a knee to the head, Rasheed was forced to miss the majority of the second half in last Saturday's win over UCF.

The conversation was abundant at Mountaineer Field as well, as West Virginia's players and coaches met with the media for their weekly Monday night session. Much to the chagrin of WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez, the question dominated most of the interviews.

"I guess it is because it is the quarterback, but I really can't understand where all the interest is coming from," said Rodriguez. "It is Monday, and we don't play until Saturday. Charles will take reps, Adam Bednarik will take reps, and Josh Broeker (a sophomore walk-on) is the other quarterback that we have eligible and he will take a few reps. We will just keep right on going. We are not going to make any decision on anything right now."

After a little prodding, however, Rodriguez did reveal the extent of what he knew about his junior signal-caller.

"As far as I know he is day-to-day," Rodriguez explained. "He lifted this morning, but they wanted to hold him out this afternoon. He still had some headaches, so I guess we are just going to be waiting and see how he feels tomorrow."

"That's not really my expertise," added Rodriguez. "They tell me who can play and we go accordingly. Mentally Rasheed is all there and knows what is going on, but on those kind of injuries you just have to wait it out and make sure that everything is okay."

If Marshall is not ready to get behind center on the road at Boston College, it will be up to fellow junior Charles Hales to step up and fill the gap, and it appears that Charles is more than ready for the opportunity.

As the other Mountaineers made their way into the locker room to shower and eat, Hales and Bednarik stayed out under the lights at Mountaineer Field and tossed the pigskin. The hard work has certainly not gone unnoticed, and WVU quarterbacks coach Bill Stewart feels that Hales will be more than ready if he is needed.

"I feel very comfortable with Charles," explained the long time Mountaineer. "Charles brings a lot of things to the table. The biggest thing is, Charles thinks he is pretty good and that is good for everybody. When you, as a leader, think you are pretty good and you have a little bit of pizzazz about you, the flocks seem to follow. Charles Hales will not be a distraction for us in any way. He is a good football player, he has come on in tough situations, and he has made the plays. People better watch out, because this may be a golden opportunity for him and I think he will shine."

One reason for Stewart's confidence is Hales' play last week against Central Florida. After stepping in for the injured Marshall, Charles managed the team quite well and capped the performance with a 79-yard scoring strike to Chris Henry.

"He is not cocky, but he certainly does not lack for confidence," admitted Stewart, who also coaches the WVU special teams. "Charles Hales is like that guy that you grew up with, with the scruffy hair, runny nose, and bloody head because he has been banged around so much. Charles Hales, in whatever sport, just has what Coach Nehlen used to call that ‘it' about him. I really think he can move our club up and down the field."

"You can trick a coach, a fan, or even a sports writer every now and then," Stewart added with a laugh, " but you can't trick your peers. Our guys follow Charles. They think there is something about him that can take them somewhere, and we just want to keep following him. He just knows how to move the chains."

The respect from his teammates, that Stewart alluded to, was evident throughout the night as Mountaineer players were asked to provide their thoughts on the situation.

"We won't miss a beat," promised junior superback Kay-Jay Harris. "Charles has proven that he can play, and he would probably be the starter at a lot of places. We are not going to have a problem at quarterback."

"We are lucky to have a guy like that who can step in if we need him," added Quincy Wilson. "We have confidence in all of our guys back there, and we know that they can do the job."

It may be Thursday, Friday, or even Saturday before Mountaineer fans know who will be under center as the Blue and Gold look to keep their Big East championship hopes alive with a trip to "Beantown." The WVU faithful can rest easy, however, knowing that whoever takes the snaps, the offense is in good hands.

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