Royal Review: West Virginia - Connecticut

It was truly a beautiful night in Morgantown as the fans, the band and the team seemed to be really pumped up for the BCS-bowl clinching win on ABC.

The following are my Royal 10 Views of the weekend:

10. Before the game I felt like I was still recovering from the Arkansas-LSU game. I rooted nearly as hard for Arkansas as I do for the Mountaineers, and with all the highs and lows during the game, not to mention three overtimes, it was a very draining game.

9. The WVU-UConn game reminded me of West Virginia's win over Maryland in 1988. Maryland took a quick 14-0 lead on five plays, and Mountaineer quarterback Major Harris told Coach Don Nehlen that they had them just where we wanted them. Coach Nehlen blew a gasket, but Major was prophetic as West Virginia won 55-24. Likewise, Connecticut took a quick 7-0 lead, but after that it was all downhill for the Huskies.

8. I love the way Steve Slaton just hands the ball to the referee after a touchdown. Legendary Coach Paul Brown once told a running back after a touchdown celebration to act like he has been there before. I guess Steve can attest to that philosophy, as he has been there 50 times on the ground and five more as a receiver.

7. While the offensive line gets a lot of credit for producing a season-best 517 yards rushing, the cutbacks by White, Slaton and Devine were absolutely incredible. They take advantage of their blocks like few other runners, and the results are lovely to watch.

6. There was a series of plays in the second quarter that I found somewhat comical. Noel Devine gained two yards on second down, then Steve Slaton was stopped at the line of scrimmage on third and one, which forced West Virginia to punt. On West Virginia's next possession, Pat White threw an incompletion and then ran the ball for no gain. To sum it up, West Virginia ran four plays for two yards and the fans began to rumble with dissatisfaction. On third and ten Pat White made a nice 29-yard scamper and then Steve Slaton ran for 31 yard touchdown. The fans went crazy. Moral of the story - we are a spoiled bunch.

5. If I had a vote for the Heisman Trophy, I would certainly vote for Pat. I'm not sure if it would be Pat White or Pat McAfee. I realize a kicker/punter would never win the Heisman, but if you believe in the philosophy that special teams is truly 1/3 of the game then you have to give McAfee some credit. He has flipped field position several times this year, and his booming punts, in both traditional and roll plays against UConn, were outstanding.

4. We all realize that Pat White, Steve Slaton and Noel Devine are "fast guys." On the flip side I don't consider QB Jarrett Brown a fast guy, but aren't you amazed how the big guy pulls away from defenders? You hear about "track fast" and "football fast" and I guess that Jarrett is football fast. Watching him rumble down the field is a treat.

3. It is amazing how often wire receiver Darius Reynaud is so wide open in the end zone. He had another solid performance with five receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown., and again was able to find an opening in the end zone against teams that should by now be aware of his presence there. For the season he has 56 receptions for 645 yards and 11 touchdowns. I realize WVU has numerous offensive weapons, but it seems to me that Darius would receive more attention, especiall in the red zone. And what about Pat White's 49-yard strike to Darius? That is a play that many would like to see on a more regular basis.

2. A note to the players: While on paper it doesn't appear that the Pitt game should be a close game, let me assure you this isn't the case. To longtime Mountaineer fans, there have been some very painful lessons. The 1997 41-38 three overtime loss in Morgantown and the 31-31 tie in 1989 are just two of those. In both contests, the fans just turned around and left Mountaineer Field without a saying a word. You could hear a pin drop.

In 100th anniversary of the Backyard Brawl we need everyone holding the rope and that means the coaches, the players, The Pride and the fans.

1. Lastly - Gang, West Virginia is now one victory away from to playing on January 7th in New Orleans. You might have laughed when I kept saying that after the USF loss, but here we are.

See you in Morgantown on Saturday.


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