That last statement might have been more accurately applied to Maryland, which was throttled on offense for the first three quarters, gaining just 147 yards on 39 plays. The Terps had to consider themselves fortunate to be trailing by only a point entering the final quarter. To that point, WVU had run 27 more plays and possessed the ball almost ten minutes more than the Terrapins.
"I don't look as much at time of possession as I do at the number of plays," Rodriguez noted.
But by any measure, it was a dominating defensive performance, even in spite of the fourth quarter letdown, which resulted in two Maryland scores.
"John was ok for his first start," the fifth-year Mountaineer head coach said. "He battled and competed, and we saw some encouraging signs. It was the same with Mozes. We'll keep Dan at center [and John at guard] for now."
* * *
The report on Adam Bednarik's neck injury was mostly positive. There were no breaks, and the major problem appeared to be a pinched nerve. Bednarik is sore, but should be o.k. to play on Saturday. No determination about a starter has been made, and if it is, it likely will not be announced. Game films revealed that Bednarik suffered the injury when one of his own linemen fell on him while trying to make a block.
* * *
Rodriguez did have bright words for the play of Owen Schmitt.
"Owen played well. He ran physically, and made some nice blocks. We have a lot of confidence in him now. Not that we didn't before, but now we've seen that he can do it. He's a 245-pound guy that understands how to run it.
"There are a lot of guys out there who develop late, or get an injury in high school, or the system doesn't fit them or whatever," Rodriguez said of the common happenstance that causes many Division I talents to be overlooked. "What is impressive is the way he has improved in the year he has been here. It's amazing."
* * *
The two-back offensive alignment on offense with both backs on one side of the quarterback was something WVU has worked on this fall, but didn't use until this week.
"We thought this was a good defense to use it against," Rodriguez said. "We'll probably have a formation or two each week that we haven't repped a whole lot before."
* * *
After a number of national talking heads again trashed the two quarterback systems in use at schools such as Ohio State and Tennessee, Rodriguez was asked to list the positives and negatives of WVU's implementation. As might be guessed, he didn't see many drawbacks.
"The first thing is that you can run them, and not worry about injury so much," he said without a hint of irony, in that the very thing befell his team against the Terps. "You can also talk to one while the other is on the field, and watch what happens and show them what is happening.
"I suppose the negative is that the critics come out when you lose," he said with a laugh, "but it's been all positive for us."
* * *
Although the coach was quick to say that he has had fun with all of his Mountaineer teams, it's becoming apparent that this squad, free from many major egos or players more worried about their pro careers, is earning a special place among the teams he has coached.
"Their work ethic is good, it's obvious they had a good summer because they came back in great shape, they are attentive, and they come to work at practice," Rodriguez said as he ticked off the positives the team presents. "They are conscientious, too. It's not that they don't make mistakes, but they know when they screw up, and they work to correct their mistakes."
* * *
WVU is again faced with a bit of unfamiliarity as it begins preparations for East Carolina, which features a new coaching staff and a number of different players. Although WVU will have the benefit of seeing a couple of the Pirates' games on tape, they don't have their hands on all of that footage just yet.
"They've played two games, but they had a problem with something, so we won't get one of them until tonight," Rodriguez said. "I've coached against [ECU head coach] Skip Holtz when he was the offensive coordinator at South Carolina and I was at Clemson, but that was a different defensive scheme.