Never Again

As I looked at the WVU-Georgia matchup in the Sugar Bowl, I was concerned about West Virginia's ability to run the ball. So much, in fact, that I forgot a basic tenet that has been proved over and over again.

The simple fact I failed to place enough emphasis on? That WVU, over the last three years, runs the ball on just about everyone. And does so successfully. It doesn't matter who the offensive linemen are, or who is toting the rock. It doesn't matter if it's stretch plays, isolations, read options, speed options or sweeps or quarterback draws. It doesn't matter if the other team puts five, six, seven or eight men in the box. And it doesn't matter if it's Maryland, Louisville, Miami, Pitt or Georgia. Somehow, someway, WVU is going to move the ball on the ground.

I was worried about WVU's ability to get outside against the Bulldogs' speedy defensive ends. I was worried that UGA's excellent pursuit speed would kill Steve Slaton's ability to cut back, or Pat White's scrambling. And no way would Owen Schmitt be able to power through some of the best tacklers in the SEC, or rip off one of his eye-popping quick bursts inside for a long gainer.

Wrong.

Make that: Wrong, wrong and wrong.

The Mountaineers shredded the Bulldog defense for 382 yards on the ground. WVU averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Georgia never stopped West Virginia's attack – only silly Mountaineer penalties stopped possessions. The Mountaineers would have easily scored 50 points had they not shot themselves in the foot on three second half drives, and although that would have eliminated a lot of the drama, it also would have underscored how dominant WVU was on the night.

So, this spring and fall, when I'm analyzing how WVU will overcome the loss of tackles Garin Justice and Travis Garrett, and trying to figure out how the Mountaineers will fare against the adjustments that will surely be made by their foes, I promise I'll remember one thing.

WVU can run the ball. Against anyone.

* * *

Georgia safety Greg Blue is a great player. He has the classic high waist and long legs of a player that can run, and his eight tackles in the Sugar Bowl attest to his abilities on the field. It's too bad that awareness of his opponents' talent isn't among those great qualities.

Blue yapped all week about "introducing WVU's freshmen to the SEC", and consistently downplayed the Mountaineers' abilities. Then, after his defense was torched for 502 yards of total offense, he continued, saying that WVU wasn't a top ten team and that he didn't think Steve Slaton, who broke the all-time Sugar Bowl rushing record with 204 yards, was anything special.

The only thing I can think of to say to that is that if WVU isn't a top ten team, then Georgia must not be a Top 20 squad.

* * *

Actual sign seen in the Georgia Dome, being held up by a male Georgia fan: "My wife is having Greg Blue's baby."

My immediate reaction: Stunned silence, then about five minutes of thought in trying to decide if the sign was a compliment or not.

* * *

Speaking of bad characters, nice showing by Marcus Vick in stomping on the knee of Louisville's Elvis Dumervil. Even if it was just a heat of the moment reaction, it was not, as Vick tried to claim, "an accident". Going after a knee is an ugly thing, as every athlete knows the vulnerability of the joint. That was at best a cheap shot, and at worst an attempt to take a star player out of the action.

Even more embarrassing for Virginia Tech was the reaction of head apologist Frank Beamer, who termed the act, "unfortunate". No, Frank – unfortunate is having a flat tire or losing a guy to a fluke injury. What your player did bordered on assault. And your reaction, just as you displayed in slapping one of your players two years ago in Morgantown, was yet another black eye for a school that I'm glad no longer appears on WVU's schedule. Your school deserves to be in a conference as shady as the ACC, which is filled with teams that melt down and begin committing personal fouls by the busload as soon as things start gong wrong on the field.

* * *

Great scene at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta after the game. When the team arrived after the game, fans filled the lobby and lined the railings of the atrium to greet them. The crowd formed a corridor that the players filed through on the way to the elevators and their rooms, accepting congratulations all the way.


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