Looking Back, Looking Ahead

WVU and the Big East are still getting questions about the level of play and the conference's worthiness of a BCS bid. And just like officials fed up with late hits, head coach Rich Rodriguez thinks it's about time some media members were called for piling on.

"There's still a lot of football to be played," Rodriguez said again on Monday after fielding the latest in a long line of Big East-bashing inquiries. "I think it would be hard for the Big East to take any more negative shots than we have, and I think a lot of it is over the top and piling on. The fact that South Florida beat Louisville doesn't mean Louisville isn't any good. And we had a win over Maryland, which beat Virginia (a Top 25 team) this week."

Rodriguez, of course is correct, but that fact will be lost on many writers and broadcasters, who wouldn't know original thought or critical thinking if it smacked them in the head like a Marcus Vick elbow.

RIFLE REPORTS

Speaking of that incident, in which the Virginia Tech quarterback may have taken a shot at a WVU assistant coach, Rodriguez was careful in his assessment.

"We saw a little bit of a thing there, but I am going to reserve comment until we see the TV copy. I don't know what the intent was, or if there was any. It may have been incidental. We aren't paying much attention to it, because we are trying to move on to Rutgers."

Rodriguez was also reticent in his comments about the reaction to Vick's actions, which reportedly included a middle-finger salute to the West Virginia crowd and the throwing of a football in WVU defensive back Dee McCann's face. He was asked to compare the minimal reaction to that which followed Chris Henry's behavior in last year's Rutgers game.

"I don't know, I guess that's for other people to judge," he said. "Obviously we weren't happy with Chris' behavior, and we heard about it and the program heard about it. Some of that was over the top, too. I don't know what people's opinion is on Marcus. Some of those things shouldn't happen, but I'm sure that their coaches will talk to him about it."

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Rodriguez also likes the way instant replay is going, but would make one change if it were left up to him.

"I'd like to have a couple of challenges even though they are probably already looking at it upstairs," he said. "For example, on our fumbled punt against Virginia Tech, the officials rightly awarded them the ball, but they spotted it incorrectly. They put it at the 30, and it should have been on the 35, because you can't advance a muffed punt. I know it doesn't seem like much, but five yards is five yards. That should be a correctible error."

Rodriguez thinks that letting coaches challenge a play or two to ensure a review is made, and thinks that the Big East should discuss such changes at the end of the year.

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Adam Bednarik could have returned to the Tech game, but WVU got so few possessions that the opportunity never presented itself. He hit his shoulder right on the point when he was driven out of bounds against the Hokies, but is expected to be fine for the Rutgers game. If his health is good, he will be the starter.

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Barring any major shifts in this week's practice performance, Steve Slaton and Jason Gwaltney are expected to be the two primary running backs against Rutgers.

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Rodriguez reiterated that "about 16-17 first year players" played for the first time against Virginia Tech, but also observed that most of those players had some experience under their belts prior to the game. Only Steve Slaton, who had seen just brief duty, and Ryan Stanchek, who played the second half against East Carolina, were relative newcomers.


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