Problems and Solutions

We don't have all the answers, but the problems facing the Mountaineer football team are fairly easy to identify.

First, to use Coach Rodriguez' phrase, we're not panicking. It's not time to dump all the seniors to the bench and burn redshirt seasons willy-nilly. It's not time to declare the spread offense a failure, or the eight man front defense a disaster.

Instead, problem areas need to be identified and addressed. Some things can be done immediately, while some will have to wait for recruiting season.

Item: Quarterback Play

Coach Rodriguez admits that about "70 percent" of the offense's success stems from the play of the quarterback. If that's the case, the staff needs to concentrate more on putting each QB (whether it's Brad Lewis or Derek Jones) into situations where they can be successful.

Lewis struggles to throw the ball accurately on the run at times, so perhaps more emphasis on passing in the pocket could be used. We wouldn't stop Lewis from running the ball, however, because those QB delays work well, especially inside the red zone.

If Jones gets the call, don't limit him to throwing deep fly patterns. Put him on the perimeter and see if he can make some of the throws that this offense needs.

Item: Receiver Play

Rodriguez said he wanted to play more people at the wide receiver spot, but against Virginia Tech only Miquelle Henderson got any appeciable time in addition to the four starters.

We'd ask, what happened to Mike Page after his great start at Boston College? It's true that WVU only ran 74 plays against Tech, which does downgrade the need for additional wideouts, but we think that using more than five might help in some circumstances.

The receivers themselves also have to get better in going after the ball. The widoeuts, as a whole, don't attack the ball well, expecially on deep patterns. Rather than going up for the ball, the receivers are waiting for it to come to them. That's a recipe for deflections and interceptions, because the defensive backs sure aren't playing passively.

Item: Rushing defense

This one, we think, is a group effort. The new scheme, players learning new angles, new assignments and average tackling have all played a part.

If the players are having trouble with some aspect of the defense,they need to speak up. The staff also must recognize what is and isn't working, and look to modify the defensive strategies to fix the most glaring problems.

Coach Rodriguez addressed this point earlier this week, and as a result we expect there will be a number of modifications made to play to the strengths of the defense. Not all of them may be visible to the casual observer, but we expect some tweaks designed to help against the sweeps and options that have hurt WVU so far this season.

One such move, the possible switch of Adam Lehnortt to rover, figures to provide more strength against the run game.

Item: State of Mind

This one is tougher to nail down, but we think this is the most important week this season. A win for WVU would revive minor bowl hopes and help everyone's outlook tremendously. A loss, and the 2001 squad could be in danger of collapse.

Although coaches get a lot of blame in this area, we don't think there's much a staff can do to improve a team's state of mind. It's an individual decision: 'I will play hard', or "I'm going to give all the effort I have'. Will the team be able to make that decision? The final answer won't come until Saturday.

Check out this week's InsiderStats.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories