Things Of That Nature – Louisville

The armchair psychologists were out in full force in an attempt to dissect West Virginia's first loss on the football field in more than a year, but Mountaineer head coach Rich Rodriguez was having nothing of it.

Rodriguez was peppered with questions about the team's state of mind following its 44-34 loss to Louisville on Thursday, but in his usual straightforward style dismissed some of the conclusions that were already being made.

In response to a question that suggested West Virginia came unglued during the contest, Rodriguez scoffed.

"I don't think we were unnerved. It was a lack of execution. Fumbling the ball is a lack of execution. Punting the ball to the wrong side of the field is a lack of execution. Whether it was nerves that caused it, you would have to ask those guys. But I just think it was poor execution."

Rodriguez also displayed a bit of heat when asked about his thoughts concerning critics that will use WVU's performance to justify their harsh assessments of the team.

"I could not care less," the sixth-year head coach said. "People jump on and off bandwagon. That's going to happen. It's not a big deal. We've played a lot of good football and won a lot of games, and now we lost one. Those critics are just waiting to find something to criticize. I'm not worried about that."

Rodriguez does think his seniors will help the team do whatever regrouping is necessary.

"You'd like for the players to help regroup, and I think they will. They started to show it last night. I think you can talk about it too much and overemphasize it. I think we have some pretty good leaders and will take charge."

In that same vein, Rodriguez said he hasn't had the chance to take his team's emotional temperature yet, but that he expects it pretty much mirrors his own.

"I don't sit down and ask their opinion, but I hope they are upset and ticked off. I want them to be mad. Hell, I'm mad. But we'll move on. We don't need anyone to counsel us and tell us the good, the bad or the ugly. We've lost before and will lose again, and we'll handle it the best we can and move on.


No lasting injuries were apparent on the trip back to Morgantown after the game, but Rodriguez has not received an injury report yet. Johnny Dingle had another ankle problem, but later returned to action. And Steve Slaton's funny bone/wrist issue was fairly short in nature. He began regaining strength in his hand, wrist and forearm in the fourth quarter, and returned to action.

* * *

Rodriguez had a quick assessment of the defensive and special teams ills that plagued the Mountaineers.

"Poor pressure and poor coverage," he repeated more than once. "They had some nice pass plays called against our defenses, but it was poor pressure and poor coverage on our part. There were some fundamental things that were completely out of character, and some special teams mistakes that were incomprehensible. Defensively I thought we played very poorly for the most part.

"We weren't blitzing well. We were running right into people," said Rodriguez as he continued down the laundry list of woes. "We weren't breaking on the ball. We weren't rerouting any wide receivers. The first down play action passes we knew were coming, but we acted surprised by it.

"They have some good players and they are talented," he said of Louisville. "Some teams have defended them better than we did. There were some plays that were too easy for them, in my opinion. It was too easy for them to pitch and catch, too easy to run, and we had some breakdowns defensively. It was not a lot of fun watching it."

* * *

The team has today off, then will meet Saturday at 5:00 and try to clean up the Louisville game. Cincinnati has a week on us, but I am not sure if we will get into them tomorrow. Our guys are pretty conscientious. There are guys coming in today to watch film, and then we'll meet tomorrow night and try to get it all corrected.

* * *

Rodriguez was puzzled by the call on a muffed punt that hit a Louisville player. West Virginia came out with the ball, but the official on the scene made a call that he was unfamiliar with.

"On that fumble recovery, they called a dual possession. I had never heard that before," said the coach. "Our guy came out with the ball from the bottom of the pile. It wasn't a challengeable situation."

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