Rod Report: South Florida

Head Coach Rich Rodriguez offers his thoughts on West Virginia's first loss of the season

The frustration of head coach Rich Rodriguez was obvious on Sunday afternoon, as might be expected afer he had a chance to study his team's mistake-filled 21-13 loss to South Florida.

"We had very poor execution offensively all night, and poor fundamentals all night," Rodriguez said. "We have a lot of work to do starting this evening. We had a couple of interceptions that were bad decisions. One was a snap; one they put a hat on the ball. We had more mistakes than we had in the first four games combined. We didn't have the bad snaps, the interceptions or the fumbles in those first four games."

In addition to the turnovers, Rodriguez identified another factor that may have contributed to some of the mental errors that permeated the contest.

"There were a couple of missed assignments, maybe [we were] overthinking a little too much. If you star to do that, sometimes you become tentative in executing your assignments. But there's nothing there that we can't fix."

RIFLE REPORTS

The injury situation, headlined by Patrick White's thigh bruise, ranges from murky to cloudy. White has been receiving treatment for the thigh bruise caused by a third quarter helmet hit, and will not practice on Sunday. It is a day-to-day situation, but there is no way to predict his availability for this weekend's game against Syracuse. It is a safe bet that he will see very little time this week.

Tito Gonzales is in a similar situation with a sprained ankle, and will not practice today either. Ovid Goulbourne sustained another in the seemingly endless series of hamstring injuries and will likely miss this weekend's game, while James Ingram, who did not travel to Florida, will also likely be out again this weekend.

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Rodriguez did think the defense continued its improvement.

"I thought the defense played pretty good. They only had 56 snaps," he said. "The guys made a few plays on the ball in the air. There weren't a whole lot of missed assignments and tackled pretty good. They had a pretty solid game. The only glaring mistake was coming up on the scramble, but other than that they did a nice job."

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Rodriguez discussed the nature of upsets in college football in light of the number of Top Ten teams that bit the dust this weekend.

"Coaches talk about it every weekend. There are a lot of good football players everywhere," he said. "If you don't execute well and don't play well, it will happen. It would be nice to be able to win some when you don't play well."

Asked if players might tend to tune out coaches' warnings in this regard, Rodriguez responded with a bit of disdain.

"I think it's overrated on what the players' psyche. It's just going out and playing. You either play or you don't play. I don't know why 18- or 19- or 20-year olds don't play well, but that's the history of time. We certainly weren't very sharp. We made more mistakes in one game than the other four combined. I thought we were ready to play. We had a pretty good week of practice. We just go out in the game and just weren't sharp. It wasn't just the offense. All three phases at times weren't sharp and the coaches weren't sharp. It was a team effort."

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Rodriguez reiterated his believe that the snapping problems that plagued the team were an aberration.

"We had been pretty good at it all year, but we had a few in that game at key times," he said of the bad snaps that caused one turnover, cost a shot at a first half touchdown and killed several other plays. "We practice it a lot, and when we have a bad snap, even in a walkthrough, we work extra on it. It was just a bad night."

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Rodriguez also commented on several of his players wearing New York Yankee hats to the game, in reference to his statement that WVU has been like the Yankees an road games over the past couple of years. He wasn't backing down from the thought, however. Nor does he believe it had any effect on the game.

"Yes, we had a few guys wearing Yankee hats," he confirmed. "But after the first whistle, what is the big deal? It's a fact. Every time we go somewhere, we help sell the place out. That's nothing that slams the other team. It's a compliment to where our program has gone. If other coaches want to use it, then I don't care."

USF head coach Jim Leavitt mentioned the item as a motivational factor for his squad.

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Looking forward to Syracuse, which has played one good game and four bad ones, Rodriguez was asked if he saw the difference in the Orange in those contests.

"They certainly played with a lot of emotion in the Louisville game," he said. "That was a conference game. They had a nice plan, and I'm sure they were juiced up a little bit. I'm sure we will get that when we go up there."


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