The View From 217

Believe it or not, the Mountaineer football team still has a realistic chance at a bowl game. Now that you have picked yourself back up from your floor, I will continue.

The talk this week has been about whether Coach Rodriguez should bench his seniors in favor of younger players.

I have a simple answer for that.

If the players you replace them with can do a better job, they should be put in there. If the players you are considering benching just aren't performing, how does benching them hurt the Mountaineers?

Simply put, if they were getting the job done, their jobs wouldn't be in jeopardy.

We can clearly point to some areas of major concern. And, to me, quarterback isn't even in the top three. That is how bad it is.

First, the defensive line needs a ton of improvement. Their lack of pressure, lack of penetration, lack of ability to tie up linemen, has led to gaping holes in the defense, because the linebackers are being blocked by offensive linemen.

This defense is built around pressure. And we aren't getting any on a consistent basis.

The second is the offensive line. This group is shaded somewhat by Avon's great production. But the fact is, they aren't winning the line battle. That means that Brad is rushed, and we aren't having any success with our straight up running plays.

The third is the special teams. The only thing we have improved upon is blocking for punts. Other than that, we are getting no pressure on the punter, punt returners are running free, kick returners are running free, and time after time, we don't have enough men on the field. Coach Stewart has his hands full when players don't know where they are supposed to be on third and fourth down.

With all of that said, the Mountaineers have something to build upon from the Notre Dame game. For most of the third quarter, WVU looked like the team that a lot of us thought they would be. There was defensive pressure. There was good tackling. There were touchdown passes. There were nice runs.

And then they fell asleep.

Well, the backs are against the wall now. Looking ahead, Temple and Rutgers should still be very winnable games. Neither of these teams should even give us a game in Morgantown.

Pitt, the juggernaut media darlings of the pre-season, have a very impressive win over East Tennessee State to fall back upon, and some ugly losses. Thank Heaven for Pitt.

That means there are three very winnable games left on the schedule, a game with Miami that everyone in the country is counting as blowout city, and a game in the Carrier Dome.

Psst, win in the dome, and we play in Orlando. Lose in the Dome, and running up the score on Pitt will be our bowl game.

Either way, we run it up on Pitt.


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