Royal Review: WVU - USF

The college football season is a marathon, not a sprint. West Virginia must keep that in mind as it keeps running the Big East race.

The following are my Royal 10 views of the trip to Tampa:

10. Some West Virginia fans are downgrading South Florida because of their lack of football "tradition." If they aren't careful, they'll start sounding like old Big Ten fans. If tradition was such an important ingredient to winning, then Notre Dame and Michigan would be undefeated. Winning games comes down to the good players, good coaching and game day execution. Friday night South Florida had all three.

9. I had the privilege of being on the field for this game. It was my first time. The stands were loud, but the field was absolutely deafening. I've always assumed it was less noisy on the field as quarterbacks are able to change plays at the line of scrimmage and the linemen appear to hear the cadences. Having been on the field I don't have a clue how the players hear anything. WVU did use a silent snap count at times during the game.

8. I enjoy watching the NBA and in particular color analyst Bill Walton and Hubie Brown. They both frequently say that superstars win the tough road games, while the entire squad can win games at home. I believe this applies to college football, too. I would have relied more on the upperclassman who have experience playing in hostile territory. Brandon Hogan, Jock Sanders and Noel Devine are fantastic freshmen, but each made critical mistakes in the loss. I realize the upperclassmen also made mistakes, but they are usually more poised in these situations. I recall first thinking about Brown's and Walton's theory when Pernell Williams fumbled early against Miami (i.e. the Quincy Wilson game) as a freshman, putting the Mountaineers in a hole.

7. Two years ago South Florida didn't blast the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cannons in the end zone after home team scores. I learned before the game that the Bucs prohibit South Florida from shooting the cannons, as they reserve this right exclusively for themselves. It is disappointing as I always thought it was a pretty cool stadium feature.

6. In the third quarter South Florida went for it on fourth and inches on their own 35-yard line. It was the "Gutsy Call of the Year" that borderlined on being the ridiculous call of the year. However, since it was successful, it goes down as an example of Jim Leavitt's good coaching.

5. Based upon watching the game without the benefit of tracking statistics, it is nearly inconceivable to me that WVU outgained South Florida in total yards by the margin of 437 to 274. The momentum of the game and crowd gave me the feel that West Virginia was on the short end of that stat.

4. Six West Virginia turnovers resulted in only seven South Florida points, but as Coach Rodriguez repeated several times after the game, he team just couldn't get any offensive rhythm. That was was largely due to the turnovers, which kept the offense trotting off the field before it had the chance to establish much.

3. It is amazing that WVU doesn't throw the ball to wide receiver Wes Lyons in its first three games, but throw to him three times in absolutely critical situations in the fourth quarter. The first catch was on a third and 24 where Wes caught a 20-yard pass. Then on fourth and 15 he caught a 20-yard pass for a crucial first down. Finally, with less then three minutes remaining in the game, he caught his final ball for eight yards. I hope this performance leads to more touches.

2. South Florida quarterback Matt Groethe is beginning to be our new Scott McBrien. McBrien was a much better passer than Groethe as evidenced by his 11 for 20 for 135 yards and two interceptions, but both have an uncanny ability to move in the pocket, escape pressure, and yes, win games.

1. Lastly – West Virginia fans want to win badly, but don't think for a second that you want to win more than the players and coaches themselves. They are the ones that put it on the line every day. I constantly heard Friday night that Coach Rodriguez should be doing this offensively or WVU doesn't have any discipline or the team wasn't hungry or Rodriguez was outcoached. An ESPN analyst even indicated that some of the West Virginia players were soft. This is all malarkey.

The college football world, including WVU's fans, are mostly a very forgiving group. While the team will be raked over the coals this week by some, it will be all forgotten with a string of solid performances the rest of the season. The best part of the season can still be ahead of us.

See you in Syracuse on Saturday.


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