A number of factors contributed to the dominating win on Saturday. First, the play of Rasheed Marshall. In the past few weeks, Marshall has been heavily criticized by Mountaineer fans, but I truly felt that he was a major key to the big win against the Orange.
I stated last week that Marshall did not have to put up huge numbers but simply let the opposition know that we could throw the ball if we needed to. His performance this weekend did just that.
For those who still think the passing numbers need to be higher, simply look at the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. The Steelers made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game with a quarterback who was simply asked not to make mistakes and just throw enough to prove he could. Rasheed Marshall should be asked only to do the same and he did just that against the Orangemen this weekend.
Rasheed's rushing ability also played a huge factor in the game. The young quarterback from Brashear High School in Pennsylvania ran for 53 yards and two big touchdowns, making an acrobatic flip on one of the TD runs. A quarterback who can hurt the opponent on the ground is extremely valuable in this "Spot the Ball" offense.
Another bright spot was the continued excellence shown by the Mountaineer defense. The Mountaineers nearly obtained their second shutout in a row, giving up only seven points and 242 yards to the Orangemen offense. Angel Estrada's 14 tackles helped earn him Big East Co-Defensive Player of the week honors, and Grant Willey's punishing hits proved that he is a force not to be taken lightly.
Finally, the play of the Mountaineer running backs was again simply amazing. Avon Cobourne passed the 1,000 yard mark for the fourth straight season. He has put up stats worthy of serious Heisman consideration. But Cobourne was by no means the only quality running back on the field.
The back affectionately known as "Q" ran for 99 yards and a touchdown on only 16 carries. Wilson continually took Syracuse defenders for a ride on his back picking up positive yardage after the initial hit. The so called "Untouchables" from Virginia Tech may not be the best tandem of running backs in the Big East. It's time that we put our heads together and come up with a nickname for our own dynamic duo.
Unfortunately, there were a couple negatives that marred this otherwise nearly perfect Saturday in the University City. First, was the officiating. The officiating in Saturday's game became almost comical at times. It was easy to laugh about it and shake it off with the Mountaineers dominating the scoreboard, but some of the questionable calls could have been crucial in a close football game. Let's hope this is not a problem in the future.
The other disappointing sight at Saturday's game was the attendance. The weather was far from perfect but the crowd, especially the student section, had to be very disappointing to those loyal Mountaineer fans who swarm to Morgantown each week. The crowd not only started small, but it became significantly smaller after halftime.
I simply cannot understand how going to the parking lot to continue the pre-game tailgate could be more exciting than watching the Mountaineers pound an old rival.
Those fans who did show up and stayed throughout, however, got their money's worth as Coach Rod gained his first win against a legitimate Big East opponent. The Orangemen were never in the game, and the Mountaineers took another major step forward this weekend. Somewhere in all of the voices heard singing "Country Roads" at the game's conclusion, I could have sworn I heard the voice of Steve Dunlap singing along. Let's Go Mountaineers!