Rod Report: Louisville

Head coach Rich Rodriguez is still searching for improvement despite West Virginia's wins over Rutgers and Louisville in the past two games. Although happy that the Mountaineers have knocked off two of their primary preseason competitors for the Big East crown, the seventh-year head coach hasn't been happy with his team's overall play.

"I didn't feel we played particularly well, Rodriguez said. "The blocking and execution was poor at times. Defensively, we tackled well, but we didn't play with good leverage. We played too high."

Rodriguez certainly wasn't unhappy with the win, but found a lot lacking in WVU's performance. "We played hard, but we have to play better than what we did," he continued. "I think the kids are conscientious enough that we can get back to work Sunday and correct some of these things.

"We've had games where we have executed better, but the other guys have something to do with that too. When you have young guys they will make some mistakes, but the thing that bothers you is having a lot of mental errors. We had a few that we should never have at this point in the season, and against a quality team that will hurt you."


RIFLE REPORTS

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While Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm credited WVU's improved defense with the ability to not bite on play action passes as it did a year ago, it was more the lack of a productive running game that eliminated that play phase. Rodriguez thought it was a changeup in defensive schemes that had a greater effect.

"Last year we were almost always in single high [safety]," he noted. "This year we were in two high a lot more. We gave up a few plays down the middle and the screen passes, but we kept them from getting the big explosive plays on first down."

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Patrick White suffered " a ding to the head" and was "a little loopy" according to Rodriguez, who said he would be fine in a few days. "He was comprehending everything when he was in the game."

Larry Williams and Scooter Berry missed parts of the game after starting, and Darius Reynaud turned an ankle and suffered cramps that also kept him out for several series.

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Rodriguez termed the spitting incident, where a Louisville linebacker expectorated in the face of Patrick White, "disappointing. "Pat is usually a pretty composed guy, and that got him fired up. And I know [their] coaches won't tolerate that. I'm sure he would have the same reaction as I did. There's no place in the game for that."

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West Virginia suffered another day of poor ball handling, and the results almost cost the Mountaineers an unexpected loss. Fumbles and a lack of ball control littered the game – and have drawn the attention of the coaching staff.

"We practice ball security all the time," Rodriguez noted. "What's disappointing is that we take a lot of pride in that. We hold it high and tight, and it was just one of those nightmare things again. They put a hat on the ball a couple of times, too. It cost us, but it didn't cost us the game.

"I don't think the cold had anything to do with it," he said. "On the sidelines, after running around a little, they were sweating, so it didn't feel like their hands were numb. A couple of times the helmet went right on the ball, but that being said you have to protect it. On Pat's pass, the ball just flew out. It just completely slipped. He thought maybe it was because of using a newer ball. He had a receiver wide open for a first down, but he wasn't able to get it too him."

The turnover concern is even more pressing with Cincinnati looming next for West Virginia.

"Cincinnati is very aggressive. They have experienced players that know how to strip the ball, and that has been a big reason for their success."

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After defending his offensive line's play earlier this week, Rodriguez had to take up the flag for Steve Slaton, who has been critiqued harshly by some this year.

"Steve obviously didn't play his best game, but sometimes when a running back doesn't gain yards, it's not his fault. A guy can run hard but not have the lanes, and that was the case at times. We can do some things and move him around a little bit – we did that yesterday, but we have to do a better job of creating holes for him."

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Rodriguez certainly had a difference of opinion on some of the officiating calls – especially the horrendous holding penalties that were almost totally one-sided against his team.

"On some of those penalties, every coach will have an opinion," he said. "Some of the penalties were just poor technique, but some of the holds we are still trying to look and see if we'd consider them holds or not. We will study those and talk to the Big East about it."

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Rodriguez will watch Saturday's action with different mindsets – especially the game featuring West Virginia's next two opponents.

"I watch game a little as a fan and a lot as a coach," he said. "I'll probably pay more attention to Cincinnati on Saturday (against Connecticut), but you can get a little feel for the game and what they are doing. I'm sure a lot of our players will try to get somewhere and take a peek at it."


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