Jimbo: And, I'm Jimbo.
Duke: The West Virginia University Mountaineers opened up their Big East schedule with a ESPN Wednesday night game against the University of Connecticut at Rentschler Field. While Jimbo's theme each week is, "Let's go 1 and 0 one more time," many Mountaineers wanted a little more than this. After a loss at Virginia Tech and a significant loss of national respect from the press, the Mountaineer faithful wanted a big win. So the question was, would we let them hang in the game and start thinking about things they shouldn't be thinking about (i.e., beating West Virginia) or put them away early and then big? Jimbo, did this win satisfy the faithful?
Jimbo: Duke, anytime we have an opportunity on the national level to gain respect we want to win big, but the problem I have with your question runs deeper than just the faithful. West Virginia is getting way too much bad press. Coach Rodriguez has to continuously defend our team and conference. I have said it before and I will say it again, just win for West Virginia. It seems like if we win we're supposed to if we lose, we're overrated.
Duke: Well, we satisfied your requirement by winning, but it does not feel like a grand road win. The three things eating at me are (1) the eleven penalties, (2) the lack of support around Rasheed Marshall with the all the returning starters, and (3) the negative comments in the stands about Rasheed's passing. Let me start with the negative comments. Rasheed went 12 for 20 with three significant drops in the first quarter, in particular Chris Henry's touchdown drop and Brand Myles first down drop. Rasheed ran for over 100 yards and passed for over 100 yards. His punt was incredible. Jimbo, Rasheed cannot also get 100 yards receiving! Henry and Myles must catch those balls!
Jimbo: I agree 100% on all of your comments. It is frustrating to hear fans scream for Charles Hales. Rasheed has stepped it up this year and has become a leader on the field with his all out play on every down. Maybe the rest of them should follow his lead. Concerning penalties, I guess running the stadium steps and having the gauntlet thrown at them has not made a point. The next step may have to be lost playing time. This week Chris Henry finally did not have personal foul call, but Pacman Jones picked up the slack with an unsportsmanlike at the end of his touchdown run that also included a holding penalty. Duke, what was your impression of Pernell Williams breaking his redshirt and playing like a veteran in his first call of duty for the Blue and Gold?
Duke: That had to be hard decision, but let's look at the running backs. Did Coach Rodriguez really have a choice? Kay-Jay is injury prone and not available. While Jason Colson appears to be a gritty player, but he has a difficult time breaking the first tackle. I am confused by the reluctance of the staff in trying Bryan Wright, though.
Our problems are more than just the running back position. We are not gelling on offense, and this is very surprising with all the starters back from last year. Jimbo, there is one player that appears to be making a difference on offense. This trend started last year and I noticed in the second half of the Virginia Tech and Connecticut games that we are moving the ball. I believe that we are a better team when Jeremy Hines is at the center position. Coach Rodriguez made his point concerning Hines' weight by sitting him, but he needs to be in the game.
Jimbo: I agree the line is better with Hines at center. It must be the calls he is making for the offensive lineman on each snap. Concerning Jason Colson, you continue to not back this guy. Yes, he fumbled and did not see action after that, but he ran for a career high in yardage. I think with Rasheed picking up the slack of the running attack this team will get better only if they stop the penalties and silly unsportsmanlike calls. An area we have been neglecting is the defense, this group has become the backbone of this team this year, what do you think? The defense dominated UConn in all areas, and even though the final score looked a little close the game was really not.
Duke: Good call on the defense. We have not given our defense enough credit. What a rock solid effort!
Jimbo, I enjoyed my time in Hartford. We met some great sport fans at Coaches where they were more than happy to discuss West Virginia and Connecticut game, but their thoughts and passions were clearly into the Red Sox and Yankees. With all the fights in our section during the game I was afraid what would happen to us walking back to the car, but the tailgaters brought their televisions and were watching the end of the Sox-Yankee game. What was your opinion of Hartford?
Jimbo: I agree it is going to take that program a few more years to truly acquire the passion needed to fall in love with the football program. That being said, their stadium looks great, and with Louisville and Cincinnati coming into the Big East we are going to be a solid football conference. I was also a little nervous walking down the airport runway parking lot. What a place to build a stadium - on an old airport! They are nowhere near the level of our sophisticated and quick-witted friends at Virginia Tech, though. Hartford will be a nice trip every other year for the West Virginia faithful.
Duke: Now for the Big Finish!
Duke: While UConn may very well be on the rise, here are a couple of suggestions to the University of Connecticut. First, do not play your band over the public address system. Second, do not have your public address call out the pre-game cheers. Third, please install more lights in your stadium. The stadium was dark. Lastly, please quit saying that "we (UConn) are four or five years away from being good as we just jumped to division I-A. Act like you are division I-A and quit making excuses!
Jimbo: I agree on your thoughts on the public address. The band needs to be heard without it. Concerning the comments coming from the UConn fans, they are making excuses if the team loses. I think they will win six or seven games this year and represent the Big East at a bowl game.
Duke: If you watched the St. Louis Rams against the Seattle Seahawks this past weekend, you had to be extremely proud of former Mountaineer quarterback Marc Bulger. He orchestrated a beautiful 4th quarter and overtime comeback.
Jimbo: Yes, I saw his run and I don't think Bulger had 20 yards of running during his career at West Virginia. Let's get ready for Syracuse and go 1 and 0 one more time!