Things of That Nature: West Virginia - S. Fla

Head coach Rich Rodriguez believed that the effort was good in West Virginia's 24-19 loss to South Florida, but that a combination of factors sent his team down to defeat. Of course, getting Rodriguez to detail those items is like gaining access to the keys to Fort Knox.

Rodriguez did allow that West Virginia's playcalling could have been better on both sides of the ball. However, when asked for some examples, the curtain came down.

"I don't want to go into detail about that, but you can go through every game and say, 'I wish we could have done this or done that.' You always have pots where you say ‘I wish we had called that play or this defense. Sometimes it hurts you, and sometimes not. In any loss, you probably have a couple of key times in the game that you question it more. You say, ‘If we had run this play, it would have been a touchdown. But that's a "what if" game. We just have to learn from it and move on."

Rodriguez also bristled when asked about comparisons to the 2004 Mountaineer team. Both squads have now been branded, quite unfairly, as underachievers.

"I think comparing this team to the 2004 team is ridiculous," Rodriguez said with some heat. "That team won a share of the Big East championship and went to the Gator Bowl. This team has won nine games and is going to another bowl game. Are we at the point at West Virginia where if we're not in a BCS bowl it's a bad year? I don't know, maybe it is."

RIFLE REPORTS

Some sideline observers on Saturday noticed a pair of South Florida players watching West Virginia's offensive signals, and then yelling out instructions to their defense. Rodriguez, however, after viewing game tapes, didn't see any evidence of sign-stealing. He reiterated that WVU's offensive woes were more the result of poor execution than anything else.

South Florida did, however, show some wrinkles WVU hadn't seen before.

"You get a different look every week," Rodriguez said. "The look we saw from them was a little different from what we had seen from them before. We have been good at making adjustments [against different defensive looks] but for whatever reason it took longer for those to sink in, both offensive and defensively.

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On the injury front, Patrick White will be limited at least the first couple days of practice this week with a turf toe and an ankle problem, both of which are on the same leg. Jay Henry, who sustained ligament damage in his wrist, "will be fine", according to the coach.

Although Henry reportedly went to the hospital following the game, he was seen leaving the stadium approximately an hour after the game was over.

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Concerns about motivation for a team that now appears headed to the Texas or Sun Bowl will be high in the coaches' minds this week.

"I've always said you work all year for 12 opportunities and a chance at a 13th," Rodriguez noted. "I hope there is motivation there, and fact that it is the seniors' last home game and the fact that they can finish as winningest class ever should be there. Will it be difficult? Sure. But if they are the kind of team I think they are, they will be focused and come out ready to play on Saturday night.

"We haven't lost a lot of games the last couple of years. So the fact that we lost is big news. We have to learn to deal with it. We came back from the last loss pretty well and we will try to do the same with this one.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, we expect to win all the games," he continued. "That's a tough deal. We have good players, and they played well for the most part, but they won't be at the top of everyone's draft board either. The loss was tough to take because it was at home, it was a beautiful day, and the fans were ready to get into it. But still, it is just one loss."


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