"This team is a bunch of hardworking guys that have character and heart," he continued. "You don't expect them to come back from that far down with eight minutes to go, especially after being dominated during the first half. It's clear our guys will hang in there, keep battling and not panic. Even when we were down, there was no bickering or anything. That was good to see."
Rodriguez was still singing the same tune about rankings after learning his team had risen to 20th in two of the bigger polls.
"I guess that's nice, but I am not worried about it," he said. "The goal is to be there at the end of the season. We have a lot of football left, and the number one goal is to compete for the Big East championship. Like I said before, winning just means there is more at stake for the next game."
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Although several Mountaineers limped off the field during the Louisville game, just one appears to be in danger of missing the USF contest. That's quarterback Adam Bednarik, whose sprained foot could sideline him for much of practice this week. Rodriguez termed him "day to day" but was not confident about his ability to get enough work in during the week to be prepared for the Bulls. If Bednarik can't go, Pat White would get the first starting job of his career.
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One of the keys to the second half comeback was the fact that the Mountaineers again kept their cool in the face of adversity. Just as they did in late game pressure situations against Maryland, WVU didn't freak out when things weren't going well.
"It might have been a mistake to panic and try things that we can't execute or not be good at," Rodriguez said. "We were close to making some things happen, in the first half, but we had a couple of holding penalties and other things that were really foolish. We were hurting ourselves. Louisville was doing a great job but sometimes we were hurting ourselves."
Once WVU got the small problems ironed out, the Mountaineers began to click offensively. It wasn't any new or different strategy, just execution of the game plan.
"The defense was battling but gave up some long drives," Rodriguez observed. "That's frustrating, and makes it tough to get into rhythm. We were hoping to get a back and forth game and see which team would be able to pull it out. For a long while we didn't test them defensively, but in the fourth quarter we finally got some rhythm."
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Rodriguez downplayed the notion that Pat White's freshness had an effect on his play. The redshirt freshman had just participated in a couple of series before being inserted for the injured Adam Bednarik in the fourth quarter.
"I don't think that had any effect," he said. "Steve Slaton played 80 some plays and didn't have a single loaf. Owen Schmitt played 45 plays plus about 15 on special teams. They were both running good.
"The defenses were probably tired, and when you are tired it's harder to get off blocks and make tackles," he added. That factor, as much as anything, contributed to the explosion of scoring in the fourth quarter and overtime.
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Rodriguez wasn't surprised that Louisville didn't put their "hands" kickoff return team on the field after WVU cut the lead to ten points with eight minutes to go. However, he admitted he almost missed his chance to call the onside kick that turned the game around.
"I was going to call the onside kick after our first touchdown," he related with a laugh, "but I chickened out. Then they went right down the field and scored on us, and I said, ‘Well, if we get another one, we're calling it.'"
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With a tropical storm gathering strength and apparently aiming at central Florida, the possibility for an effect on the game exists. Rodriguez said no discussions had occurred yet on any weather-related contingencies.