One Step Up, Two Steps Back

After taking a giant step forward last week against East Carolina, the Mountaineer football program took two steps back Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins. Very little went right and a great deal went wrong as the Mounties were pounded in front of a national audience on ESPN2. Let's take a look at what went wrong.

The most notable problem was the inability to throw the football. Last week I commented that we would have to wait until a team forced us to throw before we could judge the effectiveness of our passing game. Maryland did just that, and we found out that the passing game has a long way to go.

Rasheed Marshall completed just 12 passes and threw two interceptions against a Maryland defense that was geared towards stopping the highly touted Mountaineer ground attack. The Mountaineer coaches seemed to refuse to throw the ball on first down and the offense simply could not get into a rhythm.

The next thing that stuck out to me has been a reoccurring problem over the last couple of seasons that can only be fixed with some big wins and some added confidence. When something goes wrong, recent Mountaineer teams seem to have a "here we go again" attitude and let the game get out of hand.

In both losses that the gold and blue have experienced this season, Mountaineer opponents have put a number of scores together very quickly and have built a lead too big to overcome before the Mounties knew what hit them.

In both games, one quarter has been the difference in otherwise close games. If WVU wants to obtain success and move to the next level, they must learn to shake the negatives off quickly and get back in the game. Coach Rod needs to win a big game against a quality opponent so that the players will believe that they can win and that they are never out of a game.

Confidence plays a bigger part in wins and losses than many realize. The 1993 Mountaineers were not as talented as many of the teams that they played, but they knew they could win every game. That confidence propelled them to a number of comebacks and wins against teams with superior talent. This Mountaineer team can do the same with the right attitude.

How the Mountaineers use the loss to the Terps could likely be the key to the remainder of the season and perhaps the future of this program. Coach Rod's squad can either let this loss send them on a downward spiral or use it as a building block for the future.

In order to make something positive out of this horrible loss, the Mountaineers need to use the blowout as motivation to work harder in practice, improve, and redeem themselves in the second half of this season. The gold and blue need to jump on top early next Saturday in New Jersey and never look back.

The game against Rutgers could come at a perfect time to help this team regain its confidence, but we must be careful to not take the Scarlet Knights lightly. The Mountaineers have struggled over the years when playing Rutgers on their turf, and this Mountaineer squad cannot afford to overlook anyone.

As for the fans, we cannot lose faith in this team or this coaching staff. Although this loss was quite disappointing, we are still much improved from last season and are moving forward. We must continue to support this team and believe in what they can do.

This can still be a positive season and we still have a great shot at a bowl. One loss does not ruin a season and we are much better than what we showed on Saturday. I truly hope everyone will continue the support that has been so great this season. Let's Go Mountaineers!

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