Jimbo: And I'm Jimbo.
Duke: As Julius Caesar declared to the Roman Senate in 47 B.C., "Veni, vidi, vici.," which in Mountaineer-speak translates into "we came, we saw, we conquered." That is not to say there weren't a couple of anxious moments in this victory, but when a team turns the ball over five times on the road, yet outgains the opponent 339 yards to 103, it clearly shows dominance. Jimbo, what excited you the most on this trip? The defense? Adam Bednarik? Just the win itself?
Jimbo: The win in itself because we have never won twice in a row at the Carrier Dome. Also, we had so many young and somewhat inexperienced players playing key roles in this victory such as Bednarik, Pat White, Pat McAfee, and Darius Reynard, to name just a few. I was particularly happy to see Adam and Pat get this win. A couple of top programs such as Oklahoma lost because of their young, inexperienced quarterbacks. If we can get past the first three games or so with the young guys you reach a point where they start to become veterans.
Duke: While there were many encouraging areas Sunday, penalties again reared their ugly head. Penalties were a huge problem last year and we saw bits of it again on Sunday as we were called for seven penalties totaling 65 yards. The two personal foul calls, roughing the punter which kept Syracuse's drive alive and Owen Schmitt's hit out of bounds, have to stop. On the positive side, we may have cured one negative from last year. Last season we kept hoping another wideout besides Chris Henry would step up, and it appears that Brandon Myles and redshirt freshman Darius Reynaud both want to be that man. Darius had six tough catches. Jimbo, my helmet sticker goes to Darius Reynaud.
Jimbo: Eric Wicks must love playing on national television. In two games in which he has gotten significant playing time on defense he has two interceptions for touchdowns. The first interception came against Virginia Tech in 2004 and second one came this Sunday. My helmet sticker goes to Eric.
Duke: All right, Jimbo, let's jump into Toss Up! Let's open the first envelope.
Toss Up!: We limited Syracuse to 103 total offensive yards and they were 0 for 15 on third down conversions. Was this a great Mountaineer defensive performance or just a poor Syracuse performance?
Jimbo: Hands down the defense impressed me the most. What a dominating performance! The defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs did an outstanding job in every phase of the game. Coach Casteel put together his finest job as our defensive coordinator. A new wrinkle to the defense is adding an extra defensive back on the field for long third down situations which had Syracuse confused all day as they did not convert a third down. This group as a whole was all over the field. One on one tackles by Eric Wicks and Mike Lorello early in the game set the tone for the great defensive effort.
Duke: Jimbo how can you say that? This was clearly a poor Syracuse offense. It was a poor offense last year and now it must run a new West Coast attack. Wicks and Lorello stayed in the box the whole game as they didn't have to worry about Syracuse's passing game. Coach Robinson is going to experience the same pains as Coach Callahan in Nebraska. You simply can't take ingredients for meat loaf and expect chicken cordon bleu. This team will struggle offensively all year and will struggle next week against Buffalo.
Toss Up!: Based upon Saturday's game which position is more settled, running back or quarterback?
Jimbo: Neither. Jason Colson struggled with three fumbles, but he will get an opportunity to redeem himself against Wofford. Jason has been a very solid contributor the last two years and deserves that chance. Do you remember the 15 -13 loss to Cincinnati two years ago? Quincy Wilson put the ball on the carpet three times and he was given a chance to redeem himself. Coach Rodriguez seems very adamant on using two quarterbacks this year and both played well on Sunday. I do feel that Bednarik showcased himself a little more with his hardnosed style of football. Maybe his distant cousin, NFL Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik, called before the game for a pep talk.
Duke: The running back position is currently a mess. This was supposed to be strength of team. I understand that this was one game, but your two returning seasoned letterman who were supposed to lead the young guys nearly cost us the game with a combined four fumbles. If Colson and Williams are going to turn the ball over why are they playing? They aren't clearly better runners than Gwaltney or Slaton. Coach Rodriguez even had Jason Gwaltney playing at the end of the game. Wofford aside, let's say in the Maryland game that Colson or Williams fumbles again what you do? I think Colson and to a lesser extent Williams must earn their playing time back. We can't accept turnovers, especially not with our conservative style of play. Jimbo, you also know the magic number for us is 200 yards rushing and we came up short at 172. Concerning Quincy Wilson's three fumbles, he was the man at the time. Right now, we have five guys who can be the man.
Fact or Fiction: It is time to be concerned that we only have one high school commitment to date?
Jimbo: Fiction. We have a number of greyshirts that will be enrolled in January, plus we have Barry Wright transferring from Flordia State. By the end of a recruiting classses' elgibility most schools are lucky if half are still on the roster. Keep winning on national television and there will be no concerns on recruiting.
Duke: Fact. While we do have greyshirts from last year's class, we have only one high school commitment to date. If you look at the other major schools they have somewhere between seven to 15 kids already committed. I realize we have fewer scholarships available this year, but we can't be too selective. We need to continue the momentum of last year's class with another good year and land a couple more four/five star players.
Duke: What do have for us today Trivia Boy?
Trivia Boy: I have a real test today and only a die-hard Mountaineer will get this one. Name West Virginia's last bowl victory before the 2000 Music City Bowl. Bonus points if you name the starting quarterback.
Duke: Now for the Big Finish!
Duke: Concerning the sites and sounds of Syracuse, the Carrier Dome is over hyped. I always hear how great it is for basketball, but I can't imagine it being any better than the football setting. It is difficult to hear the public address system. It reminds me of the unseen teacher on the Charlie Brown cartoon where all the words are unintelligible sounds. On the plus side, the Syracuse fans were very gracious hosts. While eating breakfast at Cosmos on Marshall Street some Syracuse fans stopped by and wished us a good day and asked to stop by their tailgate. Good beer and good discussions.
Jimbo: Agreed -- great fans. Joey's Fine Italian Dining restaurant near the Carrier Loop was a great place. It must have been a good place as we saw Syracuse graduate Tony Caridi stopping in for a bite. Syracuse's new field is a major improvement from the old turf, which reminded me of painted concrete.
Duke: We say goodbye to another Mountaineer Legend, Tony Constantine. In a relatively short amount of time we have lost Jack Fleming, Doc Stevens, and now Tony Constantine. Mr. Constantine covered practices in the early 20's and Ira "Rat" Rodgers. I would love to see those practices and compare them to today's techniques, equipment, and conditions.
Jimbo: Trivia Boy, the answer is the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, Texas. We won 31-14 behind quarterback Kevin White and place-kicker Paul Woodside. It was great to see our fullback finally contribute with Owen Schmitt's two big catches. Until Sunday, it seemed as if Ron Wolfley from that 1984 team may have been the last fullback to have carry or catch a pass. [Ed Note: We'd toss in Wes Ours as well.] Sorry to bring that up Moe Fofana! By the way Moe, I was in Boston the other day and that Boston College linebacker is still asking for someone to answer the phone.
Duke I have one more observation: Let's go 1 and 0 one more time and Beat Wofford!