Rod Report: East Carolina

The view from the sidelines can be different than that from in front of the television, which is what Rich Rodriguez found after reviewing tape of his team's 48-7 throttling of East Carolina.

"After watching, we still have some work to do," said Rodriguez, who had termed the game one of his team's best performances of the last few years immediately following the game. "Fundamentally, we still have some work to do. We played pretty well, but I feel we can play better. We had a few missed assignments, especially in the run game, but there were some technique things we still have to improve on.

"I thought we could have executed better, and we had some mistakes that you normally make in the first half of the season. But at the same time, Pat [White] was sharp, making good decisions, and Steve [Slaton] was running well. The idea of offense is to make plays in space, and we did that yesterday."


South Florida is going for a sellout of its 65,000-seat stadium, which could pose a few noise issues for WVU. Still, it's nothing the Mountaineers haven't dealt with before.

"I'm sure it will be a problem," Rodriguez said. "I understand it will be the biggest crowd ever for a USF game. We will have to prepare for that. We'll use some of our music and make a lot of noise behind the QB and make it hard to verbalize in practice. We have done that before.

"It will be a very hostile environment. We have been in big games, but they have been in big games before, too. They beat Louisville 2 years ago. When you are a road team, you have to tune out everything but the 11 guys across the line."

* * *

Just as the case with East Carolina, Rodriguez does not believe there was nay magic to the Bulls' ability to slow West Virginia's offense over the past couple of seasons. USF simply executed its scheme very well.

"USF had a nice plan, they executed well and they didn't give up big plays. Pat got a couple of long runs down there a couple of years ago, but everyone has a game plan for #10 (Slaton) and they ran it well. They created a turnover for a touchdown up here, and just have good players. We did not execute well, and they out-executed us.

"USF has great team speed," Rodriguez continued "Located there in Florida with those great high school athletes – I think I read somewhere that all but 10 of their players come from in the state – they have done a great job. We have some fast guys too, but they have it all over the place. Our guys will have a challenge to block them and get a hat on a hat. They get a lot of guys around the ball, and have some good-sized guys as well. Your pursuit is good the faster your team is, and they get to the ball.

Rodriguez also noted that discipline will be required to contain Bull quarterback Matt Groethe. Simply getting the pocket to move is not the answer.

"The key anytime you have a QB as talented as he is is to get pressure on him, but not let him run around. He hurt us running around last year," Rodriguez noted. "We have to be disciplined defensively, but we can't just sit back and let him pick us apart either."

* * *

The only notable injury to come out of the game was Will Johnson, who hurt his shoulder. His status for the USF game is unknown at this time. Bobby Hathaway, who returned to the lineup (his previous action this year consisted of one special teams play against Maryland) filled in for Johnson. Keilen Dykes participated in only a handful of snaps before giving way to Thor Merrow at nose guard. This allowed Dykes more rest to recover from the foot injury he has been nursing.

* * *

Rodriguez extended his record of 384 consecutive press conferences in answering a question about the strength of the Big East conference. Cincinnati finally moved into a poll, and Louisville dropped out.

"I think you are seeing the strength of the Big East conference, as I have been saying for two years," he noted. "I think we will beat each other up again this season. I think if you asked the Big East coaches, some of the best athletes they see each year are within the league.

* * *

Rodriguez declined to reveal his votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll but did note that he believes the Bulls are underrated at #18.

"They are higher than that in our opinion," he said.

* * *

Rodriguez was hesitant to admit that having to ex-USF coaches (Rod Smith and Greg Frey) on his staff would give the Mountaineers any particular advantage.

"We are happy to have them, they are good people," he opened. "I think they have been a great fit for our players. We are in a profession where when you have an opening, [you get recommended by other coaches]. Rod was a graduate assistant for me and played for me, so that was natural fit. We needed a line coach that had been in a similar system, and Greg knew Rod Smith and also knew Calvin Magee. It was more or less a coincidence that they came from USF. That doesn't happen very often that way, but we have had ties with them from before [their time at USF].

"Obviously they will know a little more about USF than others, but there are a lot of things that have change over the spring and fall. They have a new offensive coordinator and are doing some different things."

Mountaineers Daily Top Stories