ETI: 2006 Kickoff Edition

Duke and Jimbo are ready for the 2006 football season, and have lots to discuss as they check inf ro the first of their weekly discussions.

Duke: Hello, I'm Duke

Jimbo: And I'm Jimbo.

Duke: The season is finally here, College Football 2006. This year we open with Marshall in the Friends of Coal Bowl. Jimbo, this upcoming season almost appears to have a 1988 appearance to it. We are entering the season highly ranked with a Heisman Trophy candidate -- in fact two candidates. The potential is also there to revenge our Notre Dame loss as they are predicted to have an excellent season. If you recall the Dean of College Football, Beano Cook, predicted that we would win the National Championship. Dial ahead to 2006 and ESPN's Pat Forde for one is predicting that West Virginia will win the National Championship.

Jimbo: While we are receiving tremendous national media attention, the thing that strikes me is how quiet everything is right now in the program. There aren't any significant transfers or there aren't any glamour position controversies. Last year we were debating who should start at quarterback (i.e. Adam Bednarik, Dwayne Thompson, and Pat White). Remember the big buzz from last year was how long would it take Jason Gwaltney to upstage the veterans.

This year there isn't any juicy material. Even two years back there was debate whether veteran quarterback Rasheed Marshall was the man, we constantly had Chris Henry issues, and many didn't think Rich could win a bowl game. This year Pat White, Steve Slaton, Owen Schmitt, Brandon Myles, and Darius Reynaud are established and perhaps unchallenged. The Sugar Bowl victory has really changed everything about the program.

Duke: Jimbo, looking at the next level I am concerned about the losses in the backfield and in particular the quarterback position. While Jarrett Brown may be a future star, freshman quarterbacks who are primarily pocket passers have a very difficult time adjusting to the college game. If White misses any time we could struggle in key games. With Adam Bednarik (injured) or T. J. Mitchell (transferred) we could essentially run the same style offense as Pat White. This is not to dismiss Nate Sowers, but I really believe West Virginia is leaning toward Jarrett Brown as its number two quarterback.

Jimbo: I think the bigger issue is the running backs. We lost some key guys to academics and the young guys like Collington and Best don't appear to be ready in part because they are freshman and in part because they have missed significant practice time with nagging injuries. As far as the starters I do want to see how we replace Jahmile Addae and Mike Lorello. The news guys like Quinton Andrews and Boogie Allen have a ton of speed and size, but running fast in the wrong direction won't help this team. I know Coach Rodriguez tells his guys to run fast and if they don't know where to run they should just run in place, but that will get ugly against Louisville and Brian Brohm.

Duke: Let's start the season with mail from our fans. Trivia Boy grab a question from the Mail Bag.

Trivia Boy: Which duo which collect more total Heisman Trophy votes Steve Slaton and Pat White of West Virginia or Brian Brohm and Michael Bush of Louisville?

Jimbo: The national media is in love Steve Slaton and Pat White. You see them everywhere whether it is ESPN.com or on magazine stands plus we'll be on national television as much as any other program. In order to get votes you must win and I believe that they will deliver by running the table.

Duke: Jimbo, I think Michael Bush and Steve Slaton will be a wash in part because Owen Schmitt will steal some of Slaton's carries. When it comes to the quarterback position Brian Brohm is going to put up some big numbers as he is a skilled passer with a nice receiver corps. While Vince Young won the Heisman as a pass/run quarterback, I don't believe that Pat will throw for enough yards this year. My vote would go to Bush and Brohm.

Trivia Boy: Second letter. Is WVU one of the nation's elite teams or is it just best team in a conference that's simply not as good?

Jimbo: Are you kidding me with this one? We are absolutely an elite team. We are also becoming an elite program that is knocking on the door of becoming a perennial college football power.

Duke: Jimbo have you seen the DUI commericals where the police officer asks the driver if he has been drinking and the driver is sitting in a car full of beer. I'm getting the same vision of Jimbo in a swimming pool of Kool-Aid. You've been drinking way too much Kool-Aid. I think this is a valid question. Put West Virginia in the SEC and do we run the table? Do we beat Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU in the same season? Even though we beat a good Georgia team last year that does make the Big East good conference? Other than Louisville the other teams need to pick it up a notch or two.

Trivia Boy: I like this one: What margin of victory will be required to satisfy you against Marshall?

Jimbo: Duke, the score will be the least of the worries. With the rash of injuries and insertion of newcomers to the offensive line and secondary I just want a solid showing for the win. This game already is being overhyped in the state because of national rating. That being said (I hate to say this) we need to win by at least 21 points to satisfy the media and pollsters.

Duke: I must say I want and expect nothing less than a slaughter - something like 60, 70 to 0 seems reasonable. To top it off I cannot wait to hear Country Roads after the game while Marshall whimpers back to the locker room. They have continually poked the bear in the eye with their bad mouthing, their billboard stunt from a couple of years ago, and then they strong armed us with the Governer into playing this series. Let's make it 80-0.

Trivia Boy: All right guys, besides Louisville, which road game are you looking forward to the most?

Jimbo: This is an easy one - I want to be in the Magnolia State watching our boys put up a Big East thumping on Mississippi State. They surely have a new respect for West Virginia after watching our Sugar Bowl performance against the Georgia. I look for a repeat in the heart of SEC land. Wait, I forgot Duke, it's one game at a time.

Duke: PITT. Why? "That's Pitt. You hate Pitt now. You will hate Pitt tomorrow. You will hate Pitt your whole life. And you will hate Pitt after you die." Trivia Boy, I see this quote from one of the posters on the Silver Lot, but is that actual quote?

Trivia Boy: I'm not sure, but if that is the way you feel does it matter? Next question and this is a good one: Duke and Jimbo, give me an outrageous prediction for the upcoming year.

Jimbo: West Virginia will be playing Rutgers in prime time on December 2nd for the Big East Championship on ESPN at 8:00 PM. Yes I am saying it - Rutgers will beat Louisville in a Thursday night game at Rutgers on November 9th. After a hard fought game with West Virginia on November 2, Louisville will not be able to recover in time and will be upset in a victory that will set the course for the Rutgers' program.

Duke: My outrageous prediction is that this is the last year for Rich Rodriguez. Rich will not leave for another college due to loyalty to his university, but will leave for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With all the rumors swirling around that Coach Bill Cowher is leaving and has aready purchased a $2.5 million home in Raleigh, North Carolina it may very well be his last season. Rich is a local guy and the Rooney philosophy is to hire local guys (this was a significant factor in hiring Coach Cowher). Lastly, Rich preaches toughness and the running game which falls in line with the Pittsburgh Steeler modus operandi.

Trivia Boy: Last letter. Which expression to you like better "Stay Humble, Stay Hungry!" or the expression used to end spring practice, "On 3, 1-2-3 National Champs!"

Jimbo: I'm Mr. 1-0 one more time. No doubt - Stay Humble, Stay Hungry. You should never count your chickens till they are hatched.

Duke: Jimbo, "Stay Humble, Stay Hungry" is good coach speak, but boring. "1-2-3 National Champs" on the other hand creates an expectation of greatness and swagger.

Big East Predictions – Top 5:

Jimbo: West Virginia, Rutgers, Louisville, Pitt, and South Florida.

Duke: Louisville, West Virginia, Rutgers, UConn, and Pitt. Of course I must explain this pick. I am really concerned about the game in Papa John Stadium. Their point totals at home in 2004 were 28, 59, 41, 55, 70, and 55 and in 2005 they scored 41, 56, 42, 69, 61, and 63 - all victories. On a neutral field I pick WVU, but based upon those numbers Louisville will score points and the question begs: can we match those numbers?

Duke: What else do have for us today Trivia Boy?

Trivia Boy: Which two of the following West Virginia quarterbacks did not throw for 2,000 or more yards in a season in their career: Oliver Luck, Jeff Hostetler, Major Harris, Chad Johnston, Jake Kelchner, Marc Bulger, or Rasheed Marshall?

Duke: Now for the Big Finish!

Jimbo: Congratulations to the Three Amigos - Schmitt, Slaton, and White on a great Sports Illustrated cover. Coverage like this confirms that we are an elite team nationally. Also congratulations to J.R. House for being called up to the Houston Astros and let's all root for those Mountaineers fighting for final NFL spots.

Duke: Speaking of that Jimbo, some good friends from Kentucky recently invited me to a lunch with Marvin Lewis, Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. We talked about the former Mountaineers on his squad and I added, "You need to help Quincy make the squad." Coach Lewis responded, "Duke, Quincy needs to help Quincy make the squad." I tried.

Jimbo: Trivia Boy, I know the answer. It is Jake Kelchner and Rasheed Marshall. Jake split enough time with Darren Studstill and I remember Rasheed came close, but not 2,000 yards. Duke, it has been too quiet. I can no longer take having to search all the WVU web sites, College Football Network, and ESPN for Mountaineer articles. I've been waiting for this game since the day after the Sugar Bowl victory. Let's get this started and smash Marshall and go 1-0 one more time.


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