Jimbo: And I'm Jimbo.
Duke: Jimbo, it was another great road trip. As you know I lived in Cincinnati as a youngster, and I'm a huge Bengals and Reds fan, so anytime back in the Queen City is a great time. It was a terrific evening as we thoroughly dominated Cincinnati and cruised to a 38-0 victory on a nationally televised game.
We may not receive any more Wednesday night games from ESPN. For two consecutive weeks we have thoroughly dominated an opponent that left the ESPN2 crew scrambling for other material to keep the audience from falling asleep or changing the channel. At this point I'm not sure if we are playing that well or whether Connecticut and Cincinnati are playing that poorly.
Jimbo: I believe that it is West Virginia playing well -- in fact very well -- as opposed to poor opponents. I think everything changed in the Louisville game when we were trailing 24-7 late in the game and we needed a big stop on a Louisville fourth down and two. I think we all know what happened after the stop! Since then, we have just jelled as a team and the offense and defense have been unstoppable. Steve Slaton and Pat White are playing super and even as freshman are becoming team leaders.
We should have seen this coming as Steve and Pat gave us great efforts as early as the Virginia Tech game. On defense we are getting outstanding line, linebacker, and defensive back play. In fact, the entire Mountaineer defense is getting Helmet Stickers from me, as they recorded a shutout and held Cincinnati to a total of 269 yards!
Duke: Let's get to the fan mail!
Fact of Fiction: Mike Lorello is the most dominating defensive back to play at West Virginia in the Coach Nehlen and Coach Rodriguez eras?
Jimbo: I'm assuming that the question is addressing the safety position as we've had some very dominating corners in Mike Logan, Aaron Beasley, and Pacman Jones. As far as safeties are concerned the stats and results speak for themselves. It is just incredible how many tackles for losses Mike has accumulated. Mike is largely responsible for our defensive play this year as he understands the scheme as well as anyone I've ever seen play at West Virginia. He will be sorely missed next year. So yes, Fact!
Duke: Wow! We have had some really good ones in Tim Agee, Bo Orlando, Mike Collins, and Angel Estrada. I believe that Jahmile Addae and Eric Wicks also belong in this conversation. Don't forget that Jahmile and Mike really play different positions. The scheme allows Mike to make big plays. That all being said if I was playing a big game I would take Michael. I agree with you Jimbo, Fact. I must add if Eric Wicks continues to make big plays my response may change next year.
Duke: When you think of the Cincinnati Bengals you think of former Mountaineers, Rich Braham, John "Thunder" Thornton, Chris Henry, and Quincy Wilson. But there is another Mountaineer with the Bengals -- Jason Williams. Jason, as you recall, was a hard hitting linebacker who lettered with West Virginia from 1994-1997. While in Cincinnati, Jimbo and I had a chance to sit down with Jason at Paul Brown Stadium and talk a little Mountaineer football.
Duke: Jason, thanks for your time. Let dig right in, is there any truth to the rumor that Cincinnati Bengal linebacker Odell Thurman needed a breather in practice the other day and it was reported that a number 44 filled in. You look like you are in playing condition!
Jason: Unfortunately that is just a rumor. My co-workers always ask me if I'm ready to suit up and my answer to them is always "I would be good for 5-10 snaps – tops!" I still work out on a regular basis. I do a lot of cardio training with a little strength training and that keeps me in pretty good shape. Also, I'm watching what I eat, and that is another reason I've been able to stay in good shape. The older you get the more you have to take care on your body and I've tried to do that since I stopped playing
Duke: Give us a little background on how you've been doing since leaving Morgantown. How long have you worked for the Cincinnati Bengals?
Jason: Things have been going great! I have been with the Bengals now going on six years. I started working for them in the spring of 1999 as an intern and I was hired on in November of that same year. I am currently the Assistant Ticket Manager with the Bengals -- a post I have held now for over three years. I have to admit the first couple of years of ticket sales were a little rough but now that the team is winning it makes it a lot easier to come to work.
Duke: Let's talk about the upcoming Pitt game. You had a monster game in the 1995 Pitt victory, leading the team with 16 tackles. Does that Pitt game stand out above the others?
Jason: I am really looking forward to the Pitt game on Thanksgiving night. Call me biased, but I think we are peaking at the right time. Pitt, for whatever reason, has been up and down all year. If we play like we've been playing there's no doubt in my mind that we'll be victorious on Thanksgiving night. The 1995 game does stand out a lot for me, not just because it was Pitt, but also because it was my first start.
There are a couple of things that I remember about that game. First, Pitt went for it on fourth and one and I hit their fullback so hard that I bit right though my mouthpiece. Some of my teammates to this day still say that's one of the hardest hits they've ever seen or heard. The second thing that stands out, and this one is the one that still bothers me to this day, I had a chance to sack the quarterback twice and I missed him both times. Yes, I know is sounds weird, but the two plays I did not make that day stood out more than the sixteen that I made.
Jimbo: What do you miss the most about Mountaineer football?
Jason: No question the thing I miss the most about Mountaineer football is the FANS. When I watch games with my friend they always ask me "So how was it playing in front of that many people and running out of the tunnel? I tell them that it is a feeling that you can't explain. I wish everyone could experience that feeling just once, and then they would understand what I mean. A distant second to the fans would be the clam chowder at Lakeview. It was unbelievable!
Duke: Jason thank you for your time. Continued success with the Cincinnati Bengals and Who Dey!
Jason: Duke and Jimbo, thank you for this opportunity. It was nice to meet you. GO EERS and WHO DEY baby!
Duke: What do have for us today Trivia Boy?
Trivia Boy: It is great to hear from old number 44! With all the discussion about our great defensive performance and hearing from Jason, which team since 1980 has had the most shutouts in a season?
Duke: Now for the Big Finish!
Duke: I guess I'm old school, but I like the old "Let's go Mountaineers," cheer. At home games during pre-game when the band is playing Hail West Virginia and band inverts the state the fans cheer "Let's Go Mountaineers," but the students add a clap in the cheer. Only on the road games to you get the old fashioned, "Let's Go Mountaineers." It is great to hear and the players really get fired up!
Jimbo: What is going on with Pacman Jones? He has become ESPN's Sean Salisbury's favorite whipping boy in two consecutive weeks. I always thought that Pacman gave us 100%, but for the Titans a couple his efforts did appear to be something south of 100%.
Duke: I like the way the University of Cincinnati band enters the field. They line up around the South end of stadium on the upper level and then run down aisles onto the field. It reminds me of when the wildebeest poured down over the hill and they were running toward Simba in Lion King.
Jimbo: Good question Trivia Boy. I can't specifically remember, but I'd bet it was the 1996 team. That was one of our very best defensive units.
Trivia Boy: You're right on it Jimbo! The Mountaineers shut out Pitt 34-0 and Maryland 13-0. Shutting out Pitt and Maryland in the same year -- how much better does it get! For the record guys' our last shutout was in 2002 against Rutgers 40-0.
Jimbo: All this talk about shutouts is terrific. I can't wait for the Pitt game on Thanksgiving! Duke, I'm going to use some of your text from last year to help us prep for the Panthers.
"It is more than just a game. It is good versus evil. It is moral versus immoral. It is the good guys against the bad guys. It is the State of West Virginia against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the largest city in West Virginia (i.e., Mountaineer Field) against the metropolis of Pittsburgh. It is about the city folk telling their toothbrush jokes; their one leg shorter than other jokes; their wife, sister, divorce jokes; and the Pitt public address jokes.
"They can snicker all they want, and I hope that satisfies them, because by the end of Thanksgiving Day they will hear Country Roads. They'll understand Spot the Ball. They'll understand smashmouth football."
To that I add BEAT PITT and let's go 1 and 0 one more time!