Things of That Nature - Syracuse

WVU won't sacrifice the final two games of the 2001 season for the future, according to head football coach Rich Rodriguez.

"We don't want to make decisions baased on next year," said Rodriguez the day after a tough loss to Syracuse that eliminated WVU from bowl consideration. "We want to make them on how they can help win the game on Saturday. That's not only at quarterback, but at every position."

This strong response came in reply to suggestions from some media members that WVU needs to make changes, especially at quarterback, now that the team can't qualify for a bowl. Questions concerning that issue began immediately following the Syracuse game, before Rodriguez even had a chance to fully discuss his team's play on that day.

Rodriguez acknowledged that being knocked out of the bowl picture was "disappointing", but continued to maintain that his team still has things to play for.

"I think the games are important for our seniors to go out feeling good, for our fans, and to feel as good as we can going into the offseason. We're disappointed not going to a bowl, obviously. We're not happy with our record, and we want to keep pressing to win win these last two games."


Rodriguez noted that there are two phases to learning his system, and that the majority of players have gotten past the first hurdle, but that the second remains for some.

"Mentally, and assignment-wise, we are ok. It's the techniques, such as getting off man to man coverage, that is frustrating them. They are trying hard, though."

Another example of those breakdowns was the blocked punt of Todd James' which Rodriguez blamed on a technique error in the punt protection.

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Rodriguez singled out A. J. Nastasi and Jeff Berk as two offensive players who performed well against Syracuse. Nastasi had seven catches and drew praise for his tough upfield running, while Berk "did well" after getting only four days of practice at guard.

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The injury report worsened after the game. Angel Estrada is out for the season with a broken lower leg. Grant Wiley and Tim Love missed time with shoulder injuries - Love's is a recurring problem that isn't likely to improve during the season.

The worst news is along the offensive line, where Brad Knell sustained a shoulder stinger, that has him on day to day status. Lance Nimmo has fluid on his knees that causes him to miss practice time, while linemantes Ken Sandor and Jason Brooks are also day to day. Sandor, who got a few snaps against Syracuse, should be available for more extended duty against Temple, while Brooks, who did not play, remains questionable.

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