ETI: West Virginia – South Florida Edition

Like many Mountaineer fans, the boys don't know quite what to make of the South Florida loss

Duke: Hello, I'm Duke

Jimbo: And I'm Jimbo.

Duke: Well, Old Grads and Young Lads, this game was a shot to the solar plexus. You know the feeling - unexpected, painful, loss of breath. Driving home I was thinking - why do I follow this stuff so much? It is like running the Wheeling 20K when you hit Chicken Neck Hill or Wheeling Hill and you start to wonder, "Why I am doing this?" For many of us this was a very painful loss. Players come and go, many students come and go, heck even coaching staffs come and go, but for the long-time fan these losses are hard to take. It is almost like concussions. Each succeeding one is a little worse, and they start to add up.

Just as painful was watching the immortal Patrick White and Steve Slaton look mortal. Week in and week out Pat White and Steve Slaton are fabulous. The offensive line for the first time looked a step slow and it resulted in Pat taking a beating both when he ran and passed the ball. The pocket just seemed to collapse. Steve Slaton was stripped again and the question begs, "How bad is his arm?" Jimbo, lift me up.

Jimbo: Duke, the best I can tell you is that we ate a large serving of humble pie. Nearly everyone including us was talking about which BCS Bowl we would go to. In retrospect it has been to the point that we even assumed a Rutgers win. Lift you up? That is pretty hard when I am feeling the loss of wind. I just do not know where this leaves us. That being said, with any defeat like this there are questions to be asked. What happened to the running game? WVU was held to 132 yards rushing. If you take away Darius Reynaud's 57-yard reverse we only had 75 legit rushing yards.

Duke: South Florida must have watched the East Carolina game. East Carolina likewise shut down our outside running game. This team gets seduced into the big outside runs like we did against Pitt and it seems like it can't go back to running between the tackles when the circumstances dictate that it must. If the inside running game fails we must continue trying and eventually we'll pop one. The same cannot be said for the outside runs, as South Florida continued to have multiple tacklers waiting for Steve. I didn't appear we had any blocking in place.

Jimbo: It appeared that the coaching staff was determined to impose their will on South Florida. The offense should definitely run more between the tackles. If Slaton is going to get that level of attention for running outside then we need to throw in a couple new wrinkles other than just the reverse. We should try something like a half back option pass. San Diego uses this quite effectively with LaDanian Tomlinson.

The offense is not the only unit that didn't play well. Antonio Lewis needed to at least catch South Florida's punt with 2:45 left in the game. That was a bad time for a 61-yard punt, 18 yards of which was roll after it hit the ground. That left West Virginia with a long 85-yard drive to take the lead. Many times it is the small things that make the difference in a close game. I was just watching Coach Bobby Knight talk with Jay Bilas on ESPN and Coach Knight was talking about playing smart and how it is ten times more important than anything else.

Duke: Jimbo, I'm not understanding our reluctance to throw to Wes Lyons near the goal line. Saturday Lyons was matched up against considerably smaller defensive backs. I thought we were saving this play for the Louisville game. It looks like a "gimmee." Coach Rodriguez used the lob pass with Rasheed Marshall and Chris Henry on a regular basis. Why won't he use it? Perhaps Pat can't throw that pass? If Wes can't catch it why did we break his red-shirt? Does it mean that Lyons is such a terrific blocker? That seems unlikely for a freshman.

Jimbo: Duke, the 3-3-5 has come into question the past several weeks. I don't believe switching to another defense is the answer. That being said, we are making opposing quarterbacks look Peyton Manning-like. It is easy to pin this all on our defensive backs, but we are giving quarterbacks considerable time in the pocket.

Duke: This loss stings as much as any that we have experienced. You can always tell a bad loss as you exit the stadium. No one is saying anything. You can hear a pin drop.

Next week is the last home game for the seniors. Let's give every senior a huge hand on Saturday whether its Dan Mozes or the four-year player who has given everything to the program, but been unable to get on the field. They all deserve every fan's appreciation and support.

Jimbo: Well said, Duke. The good thing is we can rebound from the loss with highly rated Rutgers coming to Morgantown. As always and perhaps more than ever, it is time to circle the wagons and go 1-0 one last time in the regular season!

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