Duke: Hello, I'm Duke
Jimbo: And I'm Jimbo.
Duke: About an hour before kick-off someone's opinion who I highly regard when it comes to Mountaineer football predicted, "We are going lose. I just hope it isn't a blow out. Virginia Tech is really good." After the discussion I couldn't believe what I had just heard. He was quite deflating, but then I figured out what he was actually trying to accomplish! He was pulling a George Costanza! In the Seinfield episode, "The Opposite," George says, "Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable. I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but I was perceptive. I always know when someone's uncomfortable at a party. It all became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat... It's often wrong." George concludes, "If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right." And thus I concluded that West Virginia would surely win. Oh, how I wish this were true!
This Virginia Tech squad was, in fact, a very good football team. Beatable? Yes, but it would require a perfect or nearly perfect game. The Pernell Williams and Antonio Lewis fumbles automatically downgraded our effort to "not-so-perfect", and thus set the stage for defeat. While Tech's defense was receiving the majority of the press clippings this past week, their offense is what really killed us. The third down conversions (10 for 15) felt like the proverbial "death by a 1,000 cuts." What made it feel worse was that some of the third down conversions were third and long. Marcus Vick completed an incredible 15 or 17 passes and rushed for a timely 74 yards.
Jimbo, while the defeat hurts we learned some things about our team. Last week, I asked where is Steve Slaton? Mr. Slaton responded loudly, "Here I am!" Adam Bednarik's pattern of injuries continued and Pat White is stringing together some very solid performances. What's your take?
Jimbo: Good point on the third down conversions and the time of possession, which ran in Virginia Tech's favor by a whopping 14+ minutes. It was 37:21 for Virginia Tech and 22:39 for West Virginia – and each minute felt like an additional 1,000 cuts. Duke, we do have a bunch of young guys making plays. Darius Reynaud again played big and Dorrell Jalloh's 46-yard reception was just spectacular. With Darius, Dorrell, and Brandon Myles we need to go vertical more often. Teams are compressing the field by cheating up the defensive backs. If we can start stretching the defenses a little more it will open up our running game. We are starting to stretch the defenses by throwing to the tight end. Great call by the coaching staff when Pat White threw the touchdown to Michael Villagrana. Mike had just been flagged for being the 12th man on the field and received a face full of correction from Coach Rodriguez, but he made up for it with the catch.
Duke: Did you see Coach Rodriguez getting on the [ACC] referees? They must have started the play clock while unpiling the previous play. And it sure looked like Bednarik's injury was caused by a hit that was clearly out of bounds. Jimbo, I have no helmet stickers this week. What else do you have?
Jimbo: I'm moving forward to next week. Each year we talk about how Rutgers is "vastly improved." This Rutgers team is under respected and hungry and the Mountaineers had better be ready this week or they could be in for a long day. I always circle the Rutgers game, especially when its on the road, as a true test for the Mountaineers to stay focused. We must stay focused despite the showdown with Louisville in two weeks. If you look at the scores from 2001 through 2004 Rutgers is getting closer and closer to its goal of beating the Mountaineers. The scores have been 80-7, 40-0, 34-15, and 35-30. I don't like the trend! Duke your point is well taken on the helmet stickers, but I must give one to Kevin "Boo" McLee who registered nine tackles with 1-1/2 tackles for loss.
Duke: All right, Jimbo let's jump into the fan mail! Let's open the first envelope.
Pretender or Contender?: Having seen Virginia Tech firsthand, do you believe that Tech is a contender for the National Championship?
Jimbo: Contender. Virginia Tech is a great team. They came into Saturday's game against West Virginia and clearly controlled the line of scrimmage. West Virginia's defense, which was only giving up 57 rushing yards per game. allowed 214. On offense we were gaining 235 per contest and were held to 150 yards. Contender no doubt!
Duke: Good question, but I'm saying pretender. This is not a knock on West Virginia's running game or Steve Slaton, but if Mr. Slaton carved up Tech for 90 yards for an 8.2 average, what would USC's Reggie Bush do? I was not that impressed with Virginia Tech's defense.
You're the Coach: With the emergence of Steve Slaton and Jason Gwaltney on short yardage how do you split up playing time against players that have shown continued dedication to the program such as Jason Colson (a 2005 Iron Mountaineer Award winner)?
Jimbo: I would put Jason at the slot position and on third and long situations. He has shown an ability to catch the ball, as he had 14 catches last year. That was second to Chris Henry on the 2004 team
Duke: There is only one football and you must give it to your best back. Best back means not only yards per carry, but also holding on to the football. Like I said after the Syracuse game he needs to earn his playing time back. The question begs, if Steve Slaton is your best back why wasn't he playing against Maryland and East Carolina?
Toss Up!: With the end of the Virginia Tech series which neighboring state team that is not on West Virginia's future schedule would you most like to see West Virginia play annually: Kentucky, Ohio State, Penn State, Virginia, or Virginia Tech? Jimbo: All of those schools with the exception of Kentucky are great choices. In my mind the logical choice would be too put a nice smack down on The Ohio State University. Reason is simple: they are a great school with a great tradition. The easy accessibility to and from Columbus is a plus.
Duke: Jimbo, I could picture you singing "Hang on Sloopy, O-H-I-O!" I'm taking Penn State. I'm not sure why as the 1987 and 1989 road losses were some of the most difficult Mountaineer losses ever. The 1987 game included Blair Thomas bringing Penn State back in the final minutes to win and the phantom ineligible-lineman downfield call that brought back a huge Craig Taylor game-icing screen. The 1989 game was just as haunting as Major Harris had more offensive yards than the entire Penn State team, but he fumbled five times! That being said we had a blast at the Phyrst Bar and the Phyrst Phamily Sing-a-Long. The whole bar sang together songs like American Pie and Piano Man and the Penn State faithful kept our beer mugs overflowing all night!
Duke: Trivia Boy, I can't get those Penn State losses out of my head. What do have for us today?
Trivia Boy: Take it easy Duke. Those are bad memories. I'll go after Jimbo today. Jimbo speaking of "smack down," how did the smack down that I put on you last week feel? Here's another one. Name a member of Don Nehlen's original coaching staff who is now a head coach in the Big Ten.
Duke: Now for the Big Finish!
Duke: Concerning the uniforms this weekend, the Blue-on-Blue doesn't cut it. Let's stick with Blue-on-Gold. We look like Cal with the Blue-on-Blue.
Jimbo: Thumbs Up to the Virginia Tech faithful that generously applauded for each sport that was honored in the south end zone. I guess not all Hokies are bad.
Duke: I have previously discussed that I am not a fan of the pre-game jiggy Mountaineer Band, but when the drum line marched backwards in their opening that was pretty cool.
Jimbo: Trivia Boy I'm all over this one. Lloyd Carr! I knew I would rebound! By the way nice win for Coach Carr against Michigan State.
Trivia Boy: Good job, Jimbo! I'll toughen it up a little next week.
Duke: Speaking of Lloyd Carr, I heard a good story about Lloyd this week:
It is late in the OSU-Michigan game on an overcast day. Michigan has the ball on the OSU three, with two seconds left, and the Wolverines down 14-10. There is time for one more play. Lloyd Carr calls timeout. As the team is coming to the sideline, Lloyd looks to the heavens and says, "God - I've been a good man, a church going man. I've tried to do what's right and I've never asked you for anything, but this is a big game and if I could get a little guidance I would be forever grateful." The clouds part and sun shines on Lloyd and he hears a voice bellow "I Right 39 Pitch Trap." Lloyd can't believe it! God himself gave him the play! It will surely work. The team comes to the sideline and Lloyd excitedly gives them the play. The timeout ends and the teams come back on the field. Lloyd can barely contain his excitement - he's going to win. Play resumes and the ball is snapped. The Michigan QB pitches to the back. For a split second, there's a hole - which is quickly filled by the LB, A.J. Hawk, who tackles the Michigan back short of the goal line. Time expires and Ohio State players storm the field to celebrate. Lloyd is in shock - he can't believe the play didn't work. Lloyd looks to the heavens and cries, "God - why did you call THAT play?" God looks down, shrugs, turns to his right and says, "Woody - why did we call that play?
Jimbo: Duke, I appreciated the George Costanza stuff, but then you go to the Phyrst Phamily and now Woody Hayes? I think you have some issues, but because this was a tough loss, I'm going to let that this slide, but please no more! Trivia Boy, keep bringing them! I have all the answers. I also have a story to tell: it is about a team that is 4-1 and is traveling to the Birthplace of College Football. This team needs to win. It is time to refocus and load the wagons, and let's go 1 and 0 one more time!