But rather than spoil WVU's 2002 coming out party, UTC's coaching staff held their players back until the Mountaineers had pretty much made their entrance. A pretty class touch on the part of the Mocs.
In fact, the Mocs were pretty accommodating all way around. It's no fun being cast as somebody's punching bag, but the Mocs went out, played hard and took the 56-7 loss at the hands of the Mountaineers like men.
It went almost exactly according to script. The first units dominated their opponent, built a nice comfortable lead, then turned it over to the backups, who gained some badly needed game experience.
For UTC, the $300K paycheck will help soothe their pride (as well as pay a big chunk of the football budget). For the Mountaineers, they get the tune up they were looking for, with enough areas to work on to keep the troops focused this week.
Peaks, Valleys and Plateaus
Peak – It was heartwarming to see Cassel Smith have a breakout game. I admit to a soft spot for this young man with a winning smile since talking to him at Coach Rod's first spring game two years ago, he seemed so happy to be out of the doghouse and playing football again, let's wish nothing but the best for him this year.
Valley – While on the subject of running backs, it seemed that Mr. Q. Wilson made a quick evening of it after getting hit in the back with a pass from Rasheed. While as a bleacher jockey I can't be sure, it looked like Quincy was supposed to be the hot read and didn't get turned around in time. While still on the field it looked like he was trying to explain the fact that he was still trying to shake his defender. I don't think he persuaded the coaching staff, since he didn't hit the field much from that point on.
Plateau – It is a measure of Avon Coburne's greatness that, even though he ran for 100+ yards (yawn), he didn't look nearly as dominating as he should have against this team. True, I'm sure they were throwing every player and their mothers at him to try and reduce his effectiveness, but he still didn't seem to be running at his best.
Plateau – I have to agree that UTC was just what the doctor ordered, but I wish the prescription had included an opponent with a little more effective running attack. It would have been nice to give the middle a little better test with Wisconsin looming on the horizon.
Peak – We may have found Wes Ours' spiritual successor. One Lanfer Simpson (I know, I had to do a double take too). All this Freshman FB (6-0/255) did was take a straight handoff and carry practically the entire UTC team for 19 yards. I was sorry to not see him touch the ball a few more times.
Valley – Care to bet Mr. Embick will have his number called on a few QB draws this week? Care to bet the defense will be instructed to swat at that ball for all they are worth? Care to bet Danny will be hanging on as though his life (or at least his playing time) depends on it? To be blunt, Danny looked like what he was, a young man taking his first snaps in a college football game. Later, however, he showed some really nice touch and accuracy on some long throws.
Valley – I cannot for the life of me figure out why the UTC coaching staff didn't pull Ryan McCann out of the game earlier, but at 35-0, there he was still getting knocked around. A few times you saw him swinging his arm as though his shoulder was bothering him. Let's face it, this kid is UTC's whole Div. 1-AA season, why risk injury with the outcome determined?
Major Mountain – I thought the singing of, "Country Roads" by the football team was absolutely fantastic – wasn't a dry eye anywhere I could see. My only regret is that they won't do it win or lose. Hey, we're West Virginians, we rise and fall together. Still, a wonderful new tradition was unveiled.
Now on the Wisconsin, and a really big Mountain to climb in the middle of the flatlands.