Things Of That Nature - Syracuse Report

Although quarterback Patrick White set team and Big East single-game rushing records for a quarterback on Saturday against Syracuse, head coach Rich Rodriguez didn't necessarily think it was his best game as a Mountaineer.

The eye popping rushing total (247 yards) and average (16.5 yards per carry) made many think it was White's best day, but Rodriguez doesn't measure his quarterbacks' performances by stats. He's more concerned with their decision-making, game management and other intangibles that don't show up in game book. So while White certainly played well, Rodriguez didn't immediately put the 41-17 win over Syracuse at the top of his sophomore quarterback's "best game" list.

"From a yardage standpoint [it was his best game], but he has had some other game where his decision making has been just as good," Rodriguez noted. "He broke some long ones, and ran the football very well, but he has had some other very good games for us."

Rodriguez was also amused by White's stated goal, made in jest, of being faster than Steve Slaton by the time he finishes his West Virginia career. While both are functioning at high levels of efficiency, the sixth-year WVU head coach is likely most pleased by the fact that neither has reached the halfway point of his time as a Mountaineer.

"They are pretty competitive with that, and they are still young guys – just sophomores," Rodriguez said, no doubt anticipating many more games with the dynamic duo in his backfield.


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Rodriguez, viewed, but did not plan to talk to his team about, the Miami-Florida International brawl.

"We've addressed the team earlier about proper conduct and behavior," Rodriguez said, "so that's not something we will talk about again. "That's an unfortunate situation, but I think it was an isolated incident." Thirteen players were ejected in the third quarter brawl, five from one of the ACC's "marquee" schools.

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West Virginia's strength of schedule, which is likely to ding its BCS ratings, should get a boost after the Mountaineers face Louisville, Pitt and Rutgers, as well as South Florida. Rodriguez considers that more ammunition for his viewpoint that parity is becoming a watchword in college football.

"I think it shows the conference has improved," he said of the out of conference wins notched by Rutgers, Connecticut and Pitt, "and that in Division IA period there's not as much separation as people think between teams. Everyone has players and hard working coaching staffs. You are going to see upsets. And as I said yesterday, we're not the type of team that can mess around and win games.

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Rodriguez still doesn't favor playing on Friday nights, but understands why it is being done.

"I don't like playing on Friday night because that is high school football night. I think this is the first time we have done that. I am a believer in that Friday is for high schools. But, we have done so much playing during the week that it's almost becoming where and abnormal schedule is normal for us. Some conferences like the Big 10 play every Saturday, but that's just not the way it is for us. It throws you off a bit academically, but it has worked out for us, and the league is getting good exposure. Still, it's a short week playing on a Friday, and when it's on the road you have to travel Thursday and miss a day of practice. But after the game, if you get through it, you have a little more recovery time, and the guys get a day or two off. It's not bad to break up the season to have them, but don't want too many of them on the road."

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Defensively, Rodriguez believes his team is comparable to where it was a season ago in terms of what it has installed, but notes that the age-old balance of installing wrinkles in preparation for opponents has to be tempered with the learning curve of the players.

"We want the balance of create problems for other team, while not confusing our own players. The defense has added a few packages each week, but the pace has been slow because of that. You can't compare installing defenses with adding things on offense, because they are two different dynamics. The tempo of our offense makes it hard to compare the two. But just comparing the defense from last year to this year –and it's not like we are way generic defensively – we probably have about the same amount in."

After reviewing tape, Rodriguez was pleased with the defense's play in the second half. A pair of broken coverages led to two big Syracuse pass plays in the first half, but those things were corrected at the break.

"The second half was much better, and the defense executed well in the second half. The tackling was much better too,"

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On the injury front, Ridwan Malik's strained quadriceps, which flared up during pre-game warm-ups, kept him out of action. The injury may be an outgrowth of his hip injury from earlier in the season. He practiced last week, and will be day to day this week.

Johnny Dingle suffered an ankle sprain, during the game, and his status is unknown heading into the shortened week of preparation for Connecticut. Other than that, WVU appears relatively healthy for the game. Offensive lineman Damien Crissey returned to the lineup in relief duty against Syracuse.

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