"No, I'm not," Rodriguez said when asked if he was concerned with the behavior of the crowd this weekend. "I haven't even thought about it until you mentioned it. Sometimes you have a few fans anywhere that have too much alcohol or go overboard, but I have complete confidence that there will be no problems. We want it to be hostile from a noise standpoint, but I have no concerns with security or anything else."
With that question answered (although it will surely spark some articles in the Boston papers later this week), Rodriguez again had to respond to queries about his suspension of Chris Henry. When asked how he was taking "the heat" from both local and national pundits, Rodriguez didn't hold back.
"I consider the matter over," Rodriguez said forcefully. "I think it's unfair to make such a big brouhaha over it. We had an incident, we handled it, and we have moved on. To make such a big deal out of it and to make him out like he is a criminal is just unfair. Certain people want to take shots at the program and be negative." Rodriguez was obviously referring to one column in particular, which compared Henry's punishment to that of convicted felon Martha Stewart.
The line of questioning finally turned to Saturday's showdown with untrustworthy Boston College. Barring a very strange turn of events, this game will lock up the Big East championship for WVU if it comes out on top.
"I remember Boston College being my first game here," Rodriguez said. "We had some bad luck and some injuries before and during the game. We got off to a nice start and just got killed afterwards. I can still see William Green running down the field. They took it to us pretty good."
Of course, WVU has since returned the favor, beating the Eagles twice the last two years. And although he wouldn't say it, there's no doubt that Rodriguez would love to give the skulking Eagles a swift kick in the pants on their way out of the Big East.
One of the obstacles in the way of that goal is BC quarterback Paul Peterson, who has revived memories of Eagle legend Doug Flutie. While Peterson might not have quite the same assortment of moves and unorthodox throws that Flutie possessed, there's no doubt that impressive scrambling and playmaking skills will be a major headache for West Virginia.
I was impressed with Peterson last year," Rodriguez said, recalling Peterson's performance after the Mountaineers knocked Quinton Porter from the game. "We didn't stop him at all. He was making great plays with his feet. If it weren't for a couple of big plays, he would have led them to a victory, because we had to knock down a pass to get the win.
* * *
Rodriguez pointed out that both backup quarterbacks played in last year's game in Chestnut Hill, but that the Mountaineers were without Rasheed Marshall for the entire game.
"We knew we weren't going to have Rasheed, so we got the chance to prepare Charles (Hales) a little bit. We were down 14-0 and had to fight back. Then Porter got out, and they had to scramble and readjust on the fly. We had no other backup – our next QB in would have been a running back."
* * *
The more Rodriguez watches of the BC defense the more he is impressed with its men in the trenches.
" I think one of their strengths is their defensive front," he observed. "They are as good as anyone we have faced, they have dominated everyone they have played. They don't have a weakness up there. They did a good job against us last year. That will be a key point of the game – can we run the ball against them? We've had some success running the ball, but they have been able to stop it."
* * *
Rodriguez also commented on the offensive line, which underwent some changes from its anticipated preseason lineup. Since some midseason changes, the line has consisted of Tim Brown and Garin Justice at tackles, Dan Mozes and Jeremy Sheffy at guards and Tim Brown at center. Two starters from last year, Jeremy Hines and Jeff Berk, are seeing only reserve action.
"Tim Brown is one of our better athletes, and we're trying to get our best five out there," Rodriguez said of the process used in making up the offensive line. "Garin Justice has played so well at tackle, that getting our best five means putting Tim at center."