Seeing Red

The normally bright green surface of Mountaineer Field was transformed this weekend into a brightly colored rainbow, complete with every color under the sun.

There was the ever-present green and white that makes up the AstroPlay surface, there was the traditional gold and blue worn by the Mountaineers and of course there was the bright yellow goal posts, finished off with silver brackets that lower the uprights to the ground when needed.

Green, white, yellow and blue are not exactly enough to make a rainbow, but the hundreds of coaches that made the trip to Morgantown for the annual football coaches clinic completed the rainbow and went on to add a few new colors as well. Decked in their warmest sideline gear that had to be pulled out of the closet for the first time since the end of football season, the wide-eyed coaches stood on the turf, sat in the stands and hovered inside the Puskar Center, attempted to learn as much as they could from the Saturday scrimmage. Every color and every shade was represented, but WVU head coach Rich Rodriguez continued to see only one color through his dark sunglasses. A lack of both effort and execution had the fourth-year coach seeing nothing but red.

"I'm not happy at all," explained Rodriguez, after dishing out a long-winded lecture to his team. "I was very disappointed in our effort, our intensity and our enthusiasm. We looked soft and unemotional and we didn't look like a football team at all."

After a strong start to the spring, Coach Rod had been in the habit of praising his squad, but all of that changed after Saturday afternoon's scrimmage.

"I don't know if guys are reading the press clippings or if they think they have arrived or what, but we aren't even close to being a good football team," fumed Rodriguez. "They aren't even close to being an average team. Execution, intensity, blocking, tackling, throwing and everything was poor. If you name it we aren't doing it. I made the mistake of patting them on the back a little, and they made a mess of my hands."

Before continuing his rampage, Rodriguez made sure to put some of the blame on his own shoulders. The head coach always has the ultimate responsibility, and Rod had no problems raising his hand to take the blame.

"It is my fault," admitted the 2003 Big East Coach of the Year. "I don't blame players, assistant coaches or anybody else. We have a saying that you either coach it or you allow it to happen. Evidently, I have allowed it to happen, so I have to correct it."

How to correct the problem is not as cut and dried. Rodriguez believes that there is a great deal that they can do to fix the negatives, but it all starts with the basics.

"We just have to pay attention to detail more," said Coach Rod. "We have to get the guys more focused and more intense. That is really the only thing that I can figure."

Not helping matters any was the other large patch of red that caught Rodriguez's eyes time and time again. Standing on the sidelines dressed in red jerseys, signifying an injury that would keep them out of practice, were Bryan Wright and Kay Jay Harris, two of the Mountaineers' top backs, along with three or four other scattered red tops throughout the rest of the offense and defense.

"I had two (running backs) out with head injuries and Colson was out for most of the practice with a shoulder," said the still steaming coach. "We had fullbacks running at tailback and some guys that had to move over. It is hard to run some plays without tailbacks, but we are not blocking or tackling anyway, so it really didn't matter that much."

Rodriguez can only hope that the coming week brings about an improvement. If not, stepping in the Marion County native's path made not be the best idea.

"I'm glad it is spring and not August, but we have guys that are not going to be in the mix if they don't crank it up," finished the WVU alum. "We are going to learn to play West Virginia football, or we will find guys that will."

WVU continues spring drills with an afternoon workout today at Mountaineer Field.

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