With that stirring effort, there were a lot of peaks and darn few valleys in sight.
The running game – Do we really need to say it? You come in against the #1 team, and they know you are going to run it. And by golly, you run it. And you run it. And you run it. Forget about adjustments – Miami simply had no answer for the Mountaineer running game. Once again the O-Line and the Double Barrel Shotgun had their way on the ground with an opponent – and what an opponent.
The receivers – Yeah, I know we didn't complete many passes (more on that later). But I hope all the fans were paying attention to the receivers selling out on blocking on every single down. You just can't say enough about the downfield blocks; except that I wouldn't be surprised to find out we have the finest blocking receivers in the country.
Grant Wiley – You know, we are spoiled with Grant Wiley, but I think we all got a good view of just what he can do to raise a defense this past week. That first half was one of the best overall displays I've see from Mr. Wiley, and that is saying something. He was literally all over the field.
Angel Estrada – Angel has quietly become a star on this team, and he certainly turned some heads for the nationwide TV audience. If Grant is running around with and "S" on his chest, Angel certainly must be sporting a utility belt under that uniform.
The Coaching Staff – You heard right, the coaching staff. In my mind, Coach Rod and the staff matured a lot this week. They were faced with a near impossible task – a much more talented and deep opponent, one less week to prepare, and a top ranked program with every intangible advantage. And they put together a scheme that had ‘em slugging toe to toe for 45 of 60 minutes. Point blank, our men out-coached the defending national champion coaching staff.
Rasheed Marshall – This guy gave Miami fits with his running all night. The speed of Miami's pass rush had Marshall running for his livf a lot during the contest, and I can't count the times he turned a sure loss into a gain, and sometimes a big gain. Yes, the passing numbers were lethargic again, but does anyone really think any QB can just sit in the pocket a pick apart Miami? If so, we haven't seen them yet. Once again, his poise and calm are pretty amazing for a sophomore. And it sure is fun to see him grow as a leader.
The passing game – I'm not going to complain about the lack of passing success in the fourth quarter. No one is likely to have much success when you are placed in that position. However, the success we established on the first drive mixing short passes with running was a thing of beauty, but we never seemed to be able to hit that mix again. I'm not sure why, because I felt there were still opportunities to hit passes over the middle throughout the game.
Big Plays – The one thing we needed to do but did not was to hold Miami to short gains. We got burned several times on crossing routes, and we simply didn't have the speed to keep up with their receivers on the long patterns. Hey, this team's average scoring drive coming in was under two minutes, so we are in some pretty good company in terms of teams that couldn't stop the big play.
I could never be happy about a loss, but this was one that certainly left us with a lot to build on. However, the task at hand is still huge, and we have to get those two more wins to hit that magical seven figure and be fairly secure to get a bowl berth. After the Herculean effort put forth by our beloved Mountaineers this week, I doubt very few will be betting against them.