Things of That Nature - Temple Edition

Head coach Rich Rodriguez' thoughts on WVU's performance against Temple probably echoed those of most fans on the day after the Mountaineers' 42-21 win.

"I thought we executed well at times on offense, although our grades weren't real high," WVU's boss said after grading game films. "I thought Rasheed played really well, he and Pernell were our offensive champions."

There weren't any praises for the defense, however, after its second consecutive subpar performance.

"Defensively, we didn't have the intensity or physicalness, we didn't tackle well or get off the ball very well," Rodriguez said as he listed the woes on that side of the ball. "It was not a real good performance. We have not played well defensively the last couple of weeks. It's a combination of things, not just one particular guy.

"The tackling has been poor, he continued. "We had several chances for tackles for losses or no gains that we didn't finish. We didn't explode through contact, and our pursuit was not good either. We will have to work some more on fundamentals this week."

‘Tackling practice' might conjure up images of two lines of players battering each other to the ground, or lots of contact work during the two days a week when full pads are donned. However, Rodriguez, like any coach worth his salt, knows that beating players up at this point of the season is counter-productive. Players are tired and hurting, and subjecting them to more physical contact is just likely to lengthen the injury list.

Therefore, ‘more tackling practice' means more attention to details such as positioning and footwork.

"We practice tackling twice a week, once in full pads," Rodriguez explained. "This week we might have to do a few more drills. The position of your feet, not getting your head across, and taking some poor angles – all those fundamental things. We have been out of position a lot, and that leads to missed tackles."


Jason Colson's ankle was termed "not a major sprain", and he is therefore expected to play against Boston College, although he will be limited in practice this week. Eddie Jackson is scheduled for an MRI on his injured knee, where cartilage damage is suspected. Erick Phillips, still slowed by tendonitis that inhibits his rehabilitation, has been all but ruled out of action this year. Rodriguez said an application for a medical redshirt appears likely.

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While pleased with his team's offensive performance, Rodriguez was limited to stewing on the sidelines while the Owls controlled the ball.

"I thought Temple had a lot more plays than we did," noted the Mountaineer mentor, although the Owls had just one more snap than his team. "We had a couple of long drives that must have evened it out a bit. It was frustrating. They were controlling the clock a good bit for the first half. We were in a good rhythm offensively, but we couldn't get the ball."

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West Virginia moved back into the Top Ten of the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll with 886 points, while holding down thirteenth in the AP Media poll. Rodriguez laughed when asked if that meant the coaches were smarter than the media.

"I think they just judge you on your losses," Rodriguez joked.

Rodriguez could have pointed out that the geniuses in the media poll continue to put two-loss Florida State above a host of one-loss schools, yet whine like four-year-olds when computer rankings do the same.

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Although WVU has been up and down emotionally over the past couple of weeks (up for Syracuse, and down for Temple and Rutgers), Rodriguez doesn't anticipate any problems on that front for the contest with Boston College.

"This game with BC has a tremendous amount at stake. It's for the Big East championship, and the seniors are playing at home for the last time, I'd be shocked if we are not at a peak level emotionally. I'm not worried about us being ready for that game."

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Rodriguez also ran down some of the challenges that the Eagles present.

"BC has the top ranked defense in the league. They have an excellent front seven and one of the best defensive ends in the country. Their quarterback (Paul Peterson) is dangerous –he's a mobile guy that's hard to defend. You may have everyone covered and then he scrambles out and makes a play. They are probably playing their best football right now. We know there's a lot at stake, and we know it's a big game. They could easily be undefeated – they lost two close games, one in overtime to Pitt."

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Running back Pernell Williams may have earned the starting nod with his performance against the Owls. Rodriguez said Williams has earned "more carries and more time".

"We are going to get him in the game earlier, if not start him this week," Rodriguez revealed. "I don't think there's any risk starting him now, because he has game experience."

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