The Mountaineers win again. ESPN's Trev Alberts and Mark May rip WVU and the Big East. The Mountaineers commit a penalty on what seems like every play. ESPN's Sean McDonough and Craig James agree that WVU isn't a top 25 team, but has top 25 talent. Adam Jones again proves that ego comes before team. It's a familiar story following WVU's 31-19 win over UConn.
In what has become a disturbing trend, the Mountaineers prove once again they have absolutely no discipline and do all they can do to keep an inferior opponent in the ballgame until the end. How bad was it? When WVU took the lead 24-6, in the third quarter, the chowder heads from Connecticut
headed for the exits so they could watch the ALCS. How foolish they'd have felt if UConn's receivers could actually catch a pass in the fourth quarter.
A few notes from a ho-hummer:
As much criticism as Rich Rodriguez received over his play calling in the last couple of weeks, he deserves just as much credit for the play calling strategy against the Huskies. Several new wrinkles were thrown into the fray on Wednesday evening at the Rentz. Rasheed Marshall ran for 110 yards, and several of those yards were designed runs from power formations. Given that Marshall lost nearly 40 yards on sacks, this effort was monumental under the circumstances.
However, the Mountaineers still need to throw the short ball more frequently. While the Mountaineers began to establish dominance in the trenches in the second half, and true freshman Pernell Williams started to steamroll the blue clad Huskies into submission, West Virginia completely went away from the short pass in the second half. Considering that Marshall was 12-20 for the game, and suffered at least five dropped passes, I still believe the coaching staff should continue to attack the passing lanes and put teams away.
One would hope that by now Chris Henry has put to rest any intentions of turning to the NFL a year early. Once again Henry slowed down on a wide-open deep ball, and dropped a pass that would have been a sure touchdown in the first quarter. And time and time again, Mountaineer runners were tackled down field, with replays showing Henry missing his block. Chris is a tremendous talent. And when he puts his mind to it, I don't think there is a better receiver in the land. But I don't believe he is putting forth his full effort on every play, and it is costing West Virginia several big plays per game.
It continues to baffle me why this Mountaineer team is more concerned with thumping their chests and acting like street punks than they are with winning football games. While I believe that the celebration rules are an arcane load of crap, they are the rules. It is time for these guys to start to put the team in front of their gargantuan egos. It is obvious that the running these players are earning for their childish end zone celebrations is not serving as a deterrent for the action. Maybe it is time for some of these me-first kids to sit some pine, no matter who they are.
Don't look now, but the future of the Mountaineer running game appears to have been successfully unveiled in Hartford on Wednesday evening. True freshman Pernell Williams stormed onto the field to spell a nicked up and tired Jason Colson, and the upperclassmen in the running corps immediately saw their careers flash before their eyes. Williams ran as hard into the line as any runner this side of Quincy Wilson ever has in a Mountaineer uniform, and finished with 89 yards on 16 carries.
This is the interior running toughness that this team has been sorely missing through its first five games. While it is way to early to anoint Williams as the heir apparent in the Mountaineer backfield, it certainly appears that adequate notice has been served towards the top of the depth chart. The man is coming, and he is willing to steamroll anyone in his path.
Rasheed Marshall had a stellar game against the Huskies. And in the middle of the group I was watching the game with; right as ESPN was naming him player of the game, came a question about why we can't find a quarterback who can throw the ball. "Can't just anybody hand the ball off?" was the question.
After Marshall had just torched the Husky offense with his arms and his leg, to the tune of 12-20 passing, including perfectly thrown drops, he is still questioned. Craig James was impressed. Mountaineer fans aren't. Hopefully one day we will get our Dan Marino with Major Harris' legs. Here's betting that still wouldn't be good enough.
The question was raised to what the Mountaineer defense will do next year with the loss of Scott Gyorko and Adam Lehnortt. Evidently someone forgot to explain those trepidations to Jeff Noechel and Jay Henry. Noechel, a walk-on from Fairmont, had a career night for the Mountaineers, relieving Boo McLee. And Henry quietly had a very strong evening in relief of the injured Lehnortt.
Mike Lorello had a stellar game from his position, and picked off two passes, one for a score. This performance normally would earn defensive player of the game in a landslide. Again, evidently Noechel didn't get the memo. First career interception, tackles for losses, batted balls. The man was everywhere. You have to love guys with a nose for the football. Break a nose, dislocate a finger, gouge an eye, rub some dirt on it, get back in there and maim the ball carrier.
Dan Orlovsky is a nice quarterback. He has no offensive line, his receivers don't catch the ball when they're playing under pressure, and he makes several bad throws during the game. It is bad enough when he throws a perfect ball to a tight end for what should be an easy touchdown, but then he turns around and fires a 90 mph fastball from five yards away to another wide open receiver. Good? Yes. Great? Don't think so.
Much ado was made about UConn's ballyhooed linebacking corps. And they put on a nice show, for about two quarters. It is easy to see why their linebackers make all the tackles - their defensive line is weak. They stack their linebackers two yards from the line of scrimmage and flood the running lanes to shut down the run. WVU was able to wall off many of their defenders inside, and had a great deal of success with the option game and quarterbacks runs off the edge int he first half. When the Huskies tried to adjust, WVU did too, and ran the ball inside, primarily with Williams, in the second half.
Memo to UConn: This isn't Duke. And this isn't basketball.
Don't overlook Syracuse. Despite their 145-0 loss to Purdue, their team appears to be jelling at the right time. Starting a true freshman at quarterback will always result in large growing pains, but Perry Patterson appears to be gaining a foothold in the Syracuse offense, and the defense look like it is starting to play well. Taking this team lightly will result in a loss in Morgantown.
Want more reason to worry about the Orange? WVU hasn't beaten Syracuse three straight times since 1972, 1973 & 1974. Twice in the 80s WVU had the opportunity to pull this off, with the third game being in Morgantown. Both times WVU lost. It is time for the Mountaineers to start gaining ground in this series, not giving.
See you Thursday!