First Three Weeks: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

With the upcoming week off, I felt that it was a good time to review what has happened in the Mountaineer football season thus far. The events of this young season can best be divided into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good:

Rasheed Marshall: Many have complained about Rasheed missing is receivers in the game at Wisconsin. These complaints are warranted, but we must remember Marshall is only a sophomore and this is a problem that can be corrected. If Rasheed was making bad decisions then Mountaineer fans may have something to worry about. This, however, is not the case.

In fact, in this weekends win over Cincinnati, the young quarterback made some great decisions that were rare for a quarterback with his limited experience. Rasheed has done a great job making decisions on when to throw a ball and when to pull it down.

He has also done a great job at game management and running this offense. Although he is far from this level at this point, Marshall has brought back memories of another Mountaineer that came out of Brashear High School.

Miquelle Henderson: Number 83 has, without a doubt been one of the biggest bright spots of this young season. Henderson has been just what Coach Rod needed to make this offense go.

Henderson has not only shown the ability to catch the long ball, he has shown that he is quite capable of taking the short passes, that are such a large part of this "Spot the Ball" offense, and turning them into big gains.

Henderson, like Rasheed, is only a sophomore and provides hope for the future as well as the present.

The New Turf at Mountaineer Field: This positive should, without a doubt, not be overlooked. The turf not only looks beautiful, it has already shown that it can lessen the number of injuries that occur over the course of a season.

With as little depth as the Mountaineers have, this is extremely important. The turf may pay off in recruiting as well. Many recruits do not want to attend schools that have the traditional turf at their home stadiums. Players are afraid of the increased injury risk and often avoid those schools.

The Singing of Country Roads: I was almost more excited about this new tradition than anything else that occurred during the season opener. The new tradition of players and fans singing "Country Roads" together after a home win was a tremendous idea.

Coach Rod has done a great job at trying to build an all-important connection between Mountaineer players and Mountaineer fans. This new tradition will only strengthen this connection and bring fans closer to the team.

A connection between the Mountaineer players and the state of West Virginia may also be developed through this simple tradition. The only thing that means as much to many Mountaineer fans as their football team is this great state. Players need to realize that they are playing for much more than getting their names on ESPN.

Fan Support: This area has often been a strength of our football program, but in recent years has not been as good as it has in the past. I was quite impressed, however, with the fan support at each of our three games so far this season.

The crowd, especially the students, was better than I expected for the opener against UTC. The student section was more filled than it has been in a long time and the stadium was loud and full of gold and blue.

The fans have also been great on the road. Many Mountaineer fans made the long journey to Wisconsin and were very vocal with their support. There were a number of times that the section of gold could be heard over the sea of red that filled Camp Randall Stadium.

Mountaineer fans also traveled in full force to Cincinnati. Nippert Stadium was almost as full of gold and blue as it was red. I hope Bob Huggins made note of this.

The Bad:

Depth at Quarterback: I realize that it was only one game and he came in cold, but Danny Embick did little to impress Mountaineer fans when he got his chance against UTC. Embick not only turned the ball over, he simply did not look comfortable running the offense. If Rasheed goes down the Mountaineers may be in trouble if Embick performance does not greatly improve.

Special Teams: The area that has haunted Mountaineer fans for years has, once again, reared its ugly head. Poor special teams play made a game out of what could have been a lopsided win on the road at Cincinnati. A missed field goal, punt return, and a muffed punt in which Mark Fazzolari let his knee touch the turf almost cost Coach Rod his first win in hostile territory.

There was, however, one bright spot in the punting game. Fazzolari, on back-to-back possessions, pinned the Bearcats deep into their own territory and made the field too long for Gino Guidugli and his "Cardiac Kids" to make yet another fourth quarter comeback.

The Ugly:

The White Pants: The white on white combination was not as bad as I expected but I still hate to see them. The Mountaineers have worn the trademark gold pants for as long as I can remember and that's the way it should stay.

"Touchdown for the gold and blue" simply sounds much better than "touchdown for the white." However, if we keep winning I will be satisfied even if the Mounties come out in pink uniforms.

These are my observations on the season thus far. The off week is a great time for players, coaches, and fans to reflect on the season to this point and make the necessary changes. Hopefully, as the season continues, the good will become better, the bad will become good, and the ugly will become someone else's uniforms. I would love to right a column in November with the title "The Good and the Better." Let's Go Mountaineers!

Editor's Note: Cam Huffman is a senior at WVU majoring in Physical Education and Teacher Education. He plans to attend graduate school for a sports management degree.

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