B.C. Wrapup

There's one dead giveaway to figuring out when WVU head football coach Rich Rodriguez is really perturbed, and that characteristic was in evidence both Saturday following the game and on Sunday during his press call-in.

If Coach Rod's mood is ok, he will usually start these sessions off with a brief overview, but when he's steamed, he forgoes comments. "Questions?" the Mountaineer mentor will ask.

Not that he is being rude to those of us waiting to ask questions. It's simply that he, just like many fans, take losses and poor play hard. Thus, it wasn't a surprise that the frustrated coach had no opening statements this weekend. He did, however, talk about a number of subjects in response to questions.

First up was the apparent disorganized play from the team. WVU had a critical delay of game call on fourth down and one, had to burn a timeout seven seconds into the second half, and drew another penalty for too many players in the huddle following an injury to tight end Ryan Thomas.

"I think you have to take each one individually," Rodriguez explained. "On the delay, the offensive line couldn't hear the quarterback's cadence. I didn't think the crowd was that loud, but the center didn't hear the QB give him the ready to snap the ball.

"On the timeout, we had a personnel thing with the defense on the field. I haven't talked with the coaches yet about that one, so I'm not sure what happened. And on the last one, we had a tight end hurt, and a tight end that hadn't played before (Adam Serena) didn't know who was supposed to be in. It's a rookie mistake."

Ryan Thomas, who was injured on the play, is being evaluated today. That appeared to be the only significant injury coming out of the contest.


Rodriguez elaborated a bit on some of the items that led to the special teams breakdown

"I'm just really disappointed. We had breakdowns in fundamentals, and got blocked out of our lanes. The tackling was poor, we got out of our lanes, we lost containment, and we didn't kick the ball like we were supposed to," the former Mountaineer special teamer said as he provided the laundry list of problems. "It was a disaster. As much time as we put in on it, it was just disappointing. The return yards they got were embarrassing. A total lack of execution. We've spent a lot of time of it."

Rodriguez added that with the extra time before the Pitt game, there will be plenty of chances to change personnel on the kick teams.

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Rodriguez noted that it wasn't just the first kickoff runback that hurt his team and kept the crowd down, but the cumulative effect of all of WVU's kickoff attempts.

"[The opening kickoff and runback] was a little bit deflating, but even when they got up 14-0 and we cut it to 14-7, we were still in it. What was deflating was every time we scored, we gave the ball back to them in great field position. That was a downer in terms of trying to get momentum."

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Rodriguez briefly considered, then discarded, the idea of attempting a field goal from 45-yards on WVU's last drive of the first half.

"I thought it was a little far out for a field goal. I wasn't confident with the length of the kick."

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Rodriguez is very concerned about having to face another mobile quarterback, this time in the form of Pitt's Tyler Palko, in the final game of the regular season.

"The last several games we played against pretty mobile quarterbacks, and we haven't defended them well. We haven't tackled very well. Palko is bigger and stronger than [Paul] Peterson."

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Although the defense turned in a creditable job, holding the Eagles to 2.2 yards per rush and limiting Peterson to only 162 yards passing, Rodriguez was not impressed.

"The defense gave up way too much in the first half. We played better in the second half, but they weren't on the field as much. I don't think we executed very well defensively either."

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Rodriguez was also asked about the thoughts that go through his mind on those long nights following losses.

"I think about how to get better and what we have to do in practice and meetings. What fundamentals are we lacking? I hope the players do to.

"I think about what plays I would call over again, but you can't bring it back – that's the hard part. I wish we had a game sooner – it's going to be a long 12 days until we play again and get that bad taste out. We'll have to suffer through it. I told the team we are going to be sick once we watch the film and see all the missed opportunities we had.

* * *

Rodriguez said that he would emphasize everything that still remained to be played for in the final game, but it almost sounded as if he was trying to convince himself. "The fact that it's Pitt and there's still a lot of stake should be enough [to get the team motivated]," Rodriguez said. We can still share the Big East title and go to good bowl game, and it's on national TV on Thanksgiving night. I think the players realize that Hopefully it's a chance to redeem ourselves.

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