West Virginia was forced to sign a I-AA to the schedule this year after the Buffalo Bulls slipped out the backdoor of their contract agreement at the 11th hour. The Eagles of Eastern Washington were the team who ended up being signed into Buffalo's spot, and one might argue that they are more talented and offer more of a challenge than the hapless Bulls, who rank right down there with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Atlanta Hawks as far as the worst teams in all of American sports are concerned.
During his weekly teleconference with Big East reporters, Rodriguez said the Eagles have his team's attention.
"Eastern Washington is a team that can scare you a little bit if you look what the Big Sky did this weekend with two wins over I-A opponents," he said, referring to Montana State's win at Colorado and New Mexico's loss to the Portland State Vikings. "Our players have been through this before and I think you can show them examples like Montana State over Colorado."
Rodriguez and company are now ready to put the Marshall win in the rearview mirror after grading the film.
"We thought it was a solid performance. It wasn't great. Our guys played hard and it was a tremendous atmosphere," he said. "Most coaches will tell you they worry about the first game more than any game. We didn't have any turnovers, which is a good thing but we did have a few silly mistakes and missed assignments that we have to get corrected this week."
After Eastern Washington, the Mountaineers take the field just five days later for an ESPN Thursday night game at home against Maryland. With the short week to prepare, and a I-AA opponent on the docket for Saturday, you'd expect the Mountaineers to focus on more than one team this week. They will do exactly that, but the second team they'll focus on probably isn't the most obvious one that comes to mind.
"Our guys have to get refocused," Rodriguez said. "We'll be working on two teams this week: Eastern Washington, and West Virginia."
He noted that the Mountaineers will spend much of the practice time on Monday and Tuesday getting mistakes from the Marshall game corrected.
Other Rodriguez sound bytes included:
* On quarterback Pat White, who had a great day throwing with 168 yards but only carried the ball seven times in the running game: "We didn't run Pat White as much because his ribs got a little bit sore." It is expected that White will be fine by Saturday, but even so don't be surprised if you see him come out sometime in the third quarter with Jarrett Brown and Nate Sowers leading the offense for most of the second half.
*On the Big East Conference opening the weekend 7-1, with Syracuse's loss at Wake Forest being the only blemish: "How about that huh? I think the Big East will continue to improve and people will see that in our non-conference games like this past weekend.
* On the blocked field goal in the second quarter that would have given the Mountaineers a 31-7 lead going into the locker room: "We had one guy that was bad fundamentally and didn't get his hand out to stop the rush. He's the backup there because Damien Crissey was the starter, but that's not an excuse. It's a breakdown we normally never have. We'll get that corrected."
* On the injury to Louisville running back Michael Bush, who is out for the season after breaking his leg last night against Kentucky: "I saw it on the highlights last night and I just feel awful for Michael Bush," he said, noting that he had gotten to know Bush this summer at the Big East Conference's annual media day. "Our thoughts are with Michael and his family."
Rodriguez was then asked if Bush's injury helped West Virginia's chances to win the Big East title. "That's a non-factor and we won't even think about it," Rodriguez snapped back.
Rodriguez will meet again with the media tonight during player interviews, and will hold his regularly scheduled weekly press conference tomorrow afternoon at the Puskar Center. BlueGoldNews.com will have player features, analysis, and much, much more to get you ready for Saturday's game against the Eagles.