Having said this, it was great to see that the Mountaineer players and coaching staff were not satisfied with simply coming close. The objective of the game was to win and this squad does not believe in moral victories. It would have been easy for Mountaineer players to be satisfied with staying close when nobody gave them a chance to even do that, but the disappointment that players and coaches showed on Saturday proves just how much this team believes in themselves and how much they want to accomplish this season and in the future. Mediocrity is not an option.
The Mountaineers showed promise in every aspect of the game this weekend. The special teams did a great job on kick and punt coverage as well as returns. An area that has been a black eye for Mountaineer teams in the past few seasons is now slowly turning into a strength under the direction of the firey Bill Stewart.
The defense also showed a great deal of promise on Saturday. Through the first half, the defense continually made the necessary stops even after the Hurricanes were given great field position. The defense, however, was worn down late in the game because of the depth of the Hurricanes. Miami has the depth to continually substitute in fresh players and every player who comes in is another excellent player who could be a star at many other schools. The Mountaineers simply do not have that depth yet.
Finally, the offense showed the capability that everyone has been looking for since Rich Rodriguez was hired as head coach. The gold and blue were able to run the ball almost at will against the top ranked Hurricanes. Avon Cobourne had another impressive performance and should start to garner more and more attention in the Heisman race.
The large and boisterous crowd, as well as the effort that the Mountaineers put up, should have been quite impressive to the large number of recruits that were on hand for Saturday's game as well.
It is evident that this game can either be a major boost to this program or the beginning of a downward spiral. What happens in the next couple of weeks will decide. If the Mountaineers give the same effort and execute as well or better, they have a legitimate shot at winning every game left on the schedule.
The quest, however, must start in Philly. If the Mountaineers travel to Philadelphia and come home with a loss, then the impressive showing against the Hurricanes means nothing. An impressive showing against the Owls, on the other hand, will make the Mountaineers bowl eligible and set up a Big East showdown with Boston College. The Mountaineers must go into Veterans Stadium with the same enthusiasm and confidence that they exhibited this weekend against the Canes. The Owls are coming off a moral victory of their own last week in Blacksburg. The Mountaineers need only to look at last year's score to realize that Temple cannot be taken lightly.
Mickey Rooney is quoted as saying "you always pass failure on the way to success." I believe that this Mountaineer football squad has passed their failures and is well on their way. It is amazing to me to see the improvement on this team from season to season and from week to week. As Coach Rod has pointed out a number of times, this team is better this season than it was last season. It is better this week than it was last week, and it will be better next year than it is this year. This team has now truly started to believe in this system and if they can continue to improve at this rate and get better each week, it won't be long until we are again competing for the Big East title. The road back begins in Philadelphia. Let's Go Mountaineers!