Conversations From the Car (And Bar)

Since West Virginia returned to Morgantown last Saturday for its first home game of the season, most of the conversations this week were actually on the sidelines during the game and in Kegler's watching the Texas-Ohio State game later that night.

But I have found a good title for my weekly ramblings, and I am going to stick with it. The title is not completely void of accuracy, either. I did have a couple of cell phone conversations on the way home from the game, so I guess those should count.

Here, though, are some of the more interesting topics brought up last weekend and in the days following West Virginia's 35-7 win over Wofford.

  • It is still too early to judge the effectiveness of the two-quarterback system. I, as much as any reporter you will find, realize that my knowledge of the game of football is minimal compared to what the coaches on the sidelines know, but I have never been a big fan of playing two quarterbacks.

    If one guy is struggling and a coach is simply looking for a spark, it can be a good move, but simply playing both guys no matter the situation has never earned my stamp of approval.

    With that said, I understand the position that West Virginia's coaches are in. Both Adam Bednarik and Pat White have shown that they could develop into something special, and neither quarterback has done anything to prove that he should not be on the field.

    To this point the rotation has worked well. Both signal-callers have done the job that was asked of them when they have entered the game, and neither has complained when a switch is made. Total the numbers up, and you will find exactly the production that any coach wants out of a quarterback, and no fan can argue with a 2-0 start.

    Everything has been great, but so far the offense has had very few struggles. To think that WVU will make it through an entire season without facing any team that will stop it from moving the football as it wishes, though, is an unrealistic view. What I want to see is how the system works when the offense struggles.

    Rodriguez has stated repeatedly that he does not want either quarterback looking over his shoulder, but that may be impossible to avoid. When you have two guys that you consider to be co-starters, what do you do when one of them struggles? Obviously, you put the other guy in. Making the switch would simply be human nature. But doesn't that leave the quarterbacks looking over their shoulders?

    Rodriguez is doing his best to avoid that situation, but in the heat of battle that could prove to be impossible.

    So if the Mountaineers are going to stick with one guy, who should they go with? Luckily I am just a writer and not a coach. I will let Rodriguez make that decision.

  • Playing Wofford may have been an even bigger waste than most realize.

    I am not taking the stance that I have heard from so many Mountaineer fans and criticizing WVU for playing the Terriers, because I understand the circumstances that led to the decision.

    After Central Florida backed out of this year's game, the Mountaineers had to scramble to pick up any team they could find. They had to find a home game in order to meet their financial goals for the year, and hosting a 1-AA school is the only way to do that without returning the trip. At that late notice, Wofford was really the only option.

    But the effects of playing the Terriers were great. Not only did the matchup weaken West Virginia's strength of schedule, it also proved to be virtually a wasted week.

    Sure, a number of the Mountaineer youngsters got a chance to get rid of the butterflies of their first home game without facing a top-notch opponent on the other side, it was great to get almost 60 players in the game and a 35-7 win never hurts a team's confidence.

    In the end, though, WVU wasted a week of practice preparing for an offense it will not see for the rest of the season.

    Every team does things differently, but for the most part the basic defensive concepts and schemes carry over from one offense to another. That is not the case in preparing for the "flexbone" attack that West Virginia faced last Saturday.

    Wofford's gimmick offense forced the Mountaineer defense to play an entirely different brand of football. The results were great, as WVU held the Terriers in check all evening long, but that week of preparation did not help at all with what they will see from Maryland this Saturday.

  • West Virginia has found a receiver. Greg Hunter said it best when Darius Reynaud made a leaping grab to haul in a 27-yard reception against the Terriers.

    "We have found one," said the Blue & Gold News boss in his perfect radio voice. "Now we just need another one."

    Throughout the spring and the summer, West Virginia fans wanted to know just who was going to step up and make some plays for the Mountaineers at receiver. Through the first two contests, Reynaud has proven that he plans on being the answer. His numbers are not staggering — seven catches for 66 yards and a touchdown — but the sophomore from Luling, La., has shown everything that you look for out of a receiver.

    He has speed, he has hands, he can go up and get a ball, he can run around or through defenders to pick up yards after the catch and he can even carry the football if needed.

    Now the Mountaineers must find another consistent threat. Brandon Myles currently leads the team with eight catches for 133 yards, but the senior has had more ups and downs in his career than Busch Gardens' biggest roller coaster.

    Behind Reynaud and Myles on the reception list are three running backs (Jason Gwaltney, Owen Schmitt and Pernell Williams), a converted quarterback (Dwayne Thompson) and a converted defensive back (Vaughn Rivers). West Virginia must find a few more threats in the passing game, or teams are going to load the box against the run more than ever before.

    It is time for guys like Rayshawn Bolden, Joe Hunter and eventually even Brandon Barrett to turn their potential into production.


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