ETI: Syracuse Edition

Duke and Jimbo return from a college football road trip to discuss the state of Mountaineer Nation.

Duke: Hello, I'm Duke

Jimbo: And, I'm Jimbo.

Jimbo: West Virginia, wearing blue on blue put a small thrashing on Syracuse in front of a national crowd on ESPN last Thursday. The game was another great opportunity to show the nation our "A" game - one that every non-believer in the nation and every West Virginia faithful fan has been waiting for. But in the end, it was just another solid win for the Mountaineers that brings our record to 6 - 1. Maybe this is as good as it gets.

In my mind that is okay as long as we keep winning. That's all that counts at this point in the season. Duke, do you think this is the best we can play, or were our expectations too high?

Duke: After seven games we may have already seen our "A" game. Jimbo, let's separate this discussion between the offense and defense. You have to be ecstatic about the defense. The defense has brought its "A" several times this season. This team is strong against the run and the pass. We have a great line with big cat-quick Ben Lynch anchoring the middle. And how many times can you recall a returning starter with the talents of Ernest Hunter losing his starting job? Keilen Dykes is going to be a special player! The defensive backs are much more than just Pacman Jones. The other defensive backs have really been laying the lumber. Jahmile Addae and Lawrence Audena have been doing their best impersonations of Tim Agree (for you early 1980 fans) and getting those great hits.

Jimbo: Take away a couple of busted plays and Syracuse's stats would have been even worse for rushing and passing yardage. Duke, you're right on with the defense, as this group continues to hold the rope and pick up the slack when times are tough.

You speak highly of the defensive players, but credit also needs to go to Coach Casteel and his staff. They have recruited size with strength and speed that has brought our defense up a couple of notches since the hiring/firing of Phil Elmassian. Also, it is great to see so many players playing in key situations. It gives the program the feel of reloading instead of rebuilding for the next year.

Duke: Now for the offense. Chris Henry is an enigma. He makes two bone headed plays and you're begging for Coach Rodriguez to sit him, and then he'll make an unbelievable play that no else on the team can make. While Chris may be able to slide with this level of effort in college, it will catch up with him in the NFL. Need evidence? Just look up former Mountaineer great Reggie Rembert. The effort and hustle switch is not something that you can simply flip on.

Jimbo, the coaching staff should make "Slim" watch film of the Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward until he promises to give full effort every time out. Chris, please don't be a wasted talent and end up a "could have, should have". We all want the very best for you.

Jimbo: Wow Duke, that was deep on Chris Henry. Pernell Williams were are you? After breaking his redshirt with an excellent effort at UConn he sees no significant action on Thursday. I truly do not understand the soap opera situation at running back. Either play them or redshirt them. Bryan Wright deserves a better shot than what he has been given and I hope he gets back into the mix. Duke, how do you feel about redshirting?

Duke: Jimbo, I really don't care about red shirting running backs. We should red shirt quarterbacks and lineman as they both usually need physical and mental maturing. A running back either has it or does not.

To close the loop on our "A" game discussion, I've taken in a few additional games this year, all of course when West Virginia was not playing. The first game was Purdue against Penn State at Happy Valley and second game was this past weekend when Boston College visited Notre Dame. How the mighty have fallen! Penn State has yet to see their "B" game and Notre Dame does not have a player maker on the roster. We have better players, better coaches, and better facilities than both Penn State and Notre Dame. So while our expectation may be too high, at least we can have expectations.

Jimbo: Speaking of expectations, Rutgers continues to struggle to become a better football program every year. Even though they have made strides, this program has too much talent and resources not to become a 7 to 8 win program at the Division 1 level. The win against Michigan State was a great start to the season but things turned sour with the loss to New Hampshire, and they just got blown out at Pittsburgh. That being said, Rutgers will be ready Saturday to play their best game of the season.

Duke: Now for the Big Finish!

Duke: While I was unable to hear Craig James during the ESPN telecast of the West Virginia and Connecticut contest, several people told me about his remarks concerning West Virginia. This past Saturday I heard him during ABC's half time show. I have a suggestion for Craig: quit trying to be a funny guy. At one time you were a well respected college football analyst. Now it appears that you are nothing more than a court jester.

Jimbo: Congrats to the Pride of West Virginia halftime performance, they put on a tremendous show for the crowd.

Thursday night games are great for TV, but terrible to any fan who parks in the dark blue lot. Tailgaters are not allowed to be in the lot till 5:00 p.m. Part of West Virginia football is the gatherings in the blue lot before games. Some happier medium must be discussed. It's bad enough leaving the lot after a big game, so let's please find a solution for Thursday games.

Duke: Great fireworks United Bank, but the west side of the stadium could only hear them!

I read every week in Mountaineer Illustrated in the player "Up Close" features that Rasheed Marshall does the best Coach Rod impersonation. They must show this during the game on the big screen!

Jimbo: Why has Mylan Puskar turned into a NFL style stadium? The music is great at the beginning but the band needs to be the main adrenaline pump for the stadium.

Duke: One of my favorite former Mountaineers and friends is Matthew Ceglie. He played linebacker at West Virginia from 1990-1992. Matthew was recently inducted into Brooke High's Sports Hall of Fame. While Matthew played at West Virginia I hug a banner every weekend at Mountaineer Field that read, "Matt The Hammer Ceglie." The banner flew for the last time during the Weir High versus Brooke High game as he was introduced during halftime. Matthew is now operating a very successful business in California. Congratulations Hammer!

Jimbo: Duke, Rutgers is next. Let's go 1 – 0 one more time.

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