Competition Increase

Before games with obviously outmanned foes, coaches always shower their opponents with praise. Afterward, it's usually something of a different story.

It's not, of course, a case of disrespect. Coaches don't downgrade their recently conquered victims, or heap any abuse on them. It's simply that, after taking care of business, the bosses are now looking ahead to stiffer challenges.

West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez is no different. He spoke of his genuine admiration for his opposite number, Mike Ayers, and even recycled the Don Nehlen standard "they have scholarships just like we do". Well, of course. But now that the game is over, Rodriguez was in a hurry to move on.

"We were pleased to get the win, but we didn't play our best football execution-wise, especially in red zone," said the coach, despite the fact that his team rolled up 500+ yards of total offense. "We played a lot of players. About 70 got some action, and it was good to see a lot of them in there.

"But our guys at times in the game on Saturday – I didn't think they had the same kind of bite in their step or the intensity. That was a little disappointing."

Up next for the Mountaineers is Maryland, a team that has put three good smackings on WVU in the last four outings. And although Rodriguez has to be feeling better about his chances in this year's contest, he loses no opportunity to point out that the recent series has been a bit lopsided.

"Maryland will be a tough environment. It will be sold out and loud, and we hope to have our guys' attention this weekend. They know Maryland, and know they are big, strong, physical and fast and that they have been embarrassed by them in the past."

RIFLE REPORTS

Rodriguez dismissed the notion, expounded by more than one pundit, that the Maryland game would off their first true test and learning experience for his team.

"I think you get answers to your questions in just about every game. We got some in the first game on the road. I think every game you learn more and more. Our guys are still young, still learn a lot in every game, and I think we'll learn a lot more again on Saturday. We found out how to respond to some adversity against Syracuse, where we were behind and turning the ball over. I think you learn a lot in those times. And for sure, we will face some in the next couple of games as well."

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Although there won't be any new starters for Maryland, some changes in playing time could be in the offing. Freshmen running backs Steve Slaton and Jason Gwaltney will "roll in there more and more," according to Rodriguez. Joe Hunter and Rayshawn Bolden, both of whom have been battling injuries, should be healthier and ready to go.

"We played our starting wide receivers too much in the first two games," Rodriguez said. "Jason Colson and Pernell Williams are still the co-starters. But Jason has a fight on his hands to keep the starting job."

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One additional consequence of the possible flipping of Dan Mozes and Jeremy Hines is the crash course John Bradshaw will get at guard. Bradshaw had been tried at tackle after Chris Bassler was lost for the season, but the results were sketchy, with the result that Bradshaw will now be a backup on the inside. The moves to different positions do allow more flexibility along the line.

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Daily Quarterback Question: Is it difficult to decide when to substitute one of your quarterbacks in?

Daily Quarterback Answer (Coach Rod): "I think it is more difficult when you have two you can win with. It's a lot easier when you have one much better than the other. We can run the entire offense with both – the only difference is that one is right handed and one is left. The things we want to do with them are the same. That makes it easier, because their abilities are the same."

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Daily Big East Is Terrible Question: How important are these out of conference games with Maryland and Virginia Tech?

Daily Big East Isn't So Bad As You Think Answer (Coach Rod): The games are all important. Maryland and Virginia Tech have been long time rivals, so for our fans, our program and recruiting, we go against them a lot. Nationally Tech is in the top five or top ten and Maryland has a great program. They are two of the better programs in the East, and we need to play well against them."

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Rodriguez doesn't think that playing a smaller, less physically talented team one week will lead to problems against a better squad the next.

"Out guys go against each other in practice all week, so I think that prepares you to play against [better] teams."


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