When: 9/18, Noon
Stadium: Mountaineer Field
AP Rank: 7
Last Week: UCF
Returning Starters: 16
AP Rank: 21
Last Week: NIU
Returning Starters: 9
Last Meeting: 2003
GETTING' STEFFY WITH IT
Terp head coach Ralph Friedgen decided to break the redshirt of freshman quarterback Jordan Steffy, even though sophomore Joel Statham appears to have a solid lock on the starting quarterback job. That move sparked some debate among Terrapin congnescenti, who wanted to put another year between the two. With that decision made, WVU can expect to see Steffy in the game at some point on Saturday. Steffy adds another dimension to the Maryland offense with his running ability, but his passing skills are far less developed than Statham's at this point.
This week's .500 stat (remember, we always find some record or stat that is at the break even mark – it's past spooky and into weird now) is WVU's record on ESPN2. All time, the Mountaineers are 6-7 on the Deuce (and I'm not talking about the chances you'll be banned by our board administrator). Can the Mountaineers even out there record on the network that began with the Keith Olbermann pronouncement "Welcome to the end of our careers"?
ZIP A DEE DOO DAH
Maryland's defense has yet to yield a point in the first half this year. Only a safety by Northern Illinois in the opener has blemished the Terp scoreboard before halftime. If that happens again this Saturday, WVU will go down to its fifth consecutive defeat at the hands of their border rival.
YOU'VE GOTTA BE KIDDING
The things some people think never cease to amaze me. Someone claimed on one of our message boards that there was "no way" that Rich Rodriguez could be unaware of the ticket tempest in a teapot. (That story, by they way, was blown wildly out of proportion by several media outlets, including the Charleston Daily Mail, which featured it on the front page. Somehow, WVU's soccer win over Marshall was buried on page two, with no mention of the Herd in the headline of the blurb. But I digress.)
Folks, Coach Rod, just like his staff, works long hours. And I mean long hours. He doesn't have time to get involved in these little soap operas. And if he did, he wouldn't have time to do his job. He, like all the other coaches, are game planning, reviewing film, recruiting, and doing the other million and one things that take up a coach's time. Worrying about student tickets isn't one of them, even if one of his contract bonuses is tied to ticket sales. (Another aside – that bonus is for season tickets sold, and doesn't have anything to do with attendance.)
WVU has five touchdowns of fifty yards or longer this year. In two games. Last year, they had four. Total.
HAM(MY) AND EGGS
I've gotten a lot of questions about hamstrings, particularly Kay Jay's, this week, and the honest prognosis is: unknown. Hamstrings are dicey things – they might hold up, or they might tweak and pop at any moment. Kay Jay might be fine on Friday, then strain it again Saturday during warm-ups. Or, he might not do anything all week, then be good to go against the Terps.
Kay Jay's struggles remind me of former Mountaineer running back A. B. Brown. Aside from being remembered for his great intelligence in transferring from WVU to Pitt, A. B. who had huge thighs, was also plagued with hamstring problems. He stretched, warmed up early, tried all sorts of treatments and strategies, but nothing was a surefire cure other than rest. Unfortunately, I think we'll see the same thing with Kay Jay all year.
Staff writer and graphical guru Andy Easton has a great section in his game previews with this title, and there's always some fun stuff to be found there. As I was looking over WVU's stats and game notes, however, I wondered – which stats really are useless?
I've come to the conclusion that the stats for the number of games started has to be one of the more worthless numbers in today's game. With all of the different offensive formations used by teams, a wide receiver or running back might not be on the field for the opening play, but could end up playing 70% or 80% of his team's snaps. Ditto for certain players on defense, depending on the type of offense being faced that week.
That also affects our perception of opponents. When we see that a team has 17 returning starters, we automatically think "Hey, they have a chance to be really good." But when you think about it, what is a returning starter? A guy that started one game? A majority of games? It's not like there are any hard and fast rules about these numbers.
That's not to take away from the accomplishments of players with long streaks of games started. Obviously, those guys (like offensive lineman Jeff Berk, who has a great string of 31 consecutive starts) are good, and those numbers indicate they are stalwarts on the team. However, like just about any metric, too much can be read into them.