Valley Vistas - Virginia Tech

Cusp – n, (kusp) From the Latin cuspis, meaning point. A transitional point in time. A defining moment or event.

For Coach Rich Rodriguez and his West Virginia Mountaineers, a cusp was reached on Wednesday night, November 20th 2002. All season long, the story of this West Virginia team had been one of progressive improvement, but each sign of improvement seemed to come attached with its own asterisk.

The held on to beat a scrappy Cincinnati Bearcat team at home.

* Yeah, but look at their record, it turns out Cincy has no "D".

They had won four of five games going into Wednesday's battle with Virginia Tech.

* Yeah, but who did they beat? A decent Boston College team, but nobody else. It's the soft schedule that helped them out.

A running game rated #2 in the country.

* Yeah, but they built it on those same creampuff teams. The best teams will shut down the run, and then you'll have to pass. And then you'll lose.

Well, Wednesday evening, the Mountaineers of West Virginia did a little asterisk kicking. In what will have to rank as one of the most impressive "underdog" performances in WVU history, the gold and blue fought, scrapped, and clawed their way to a hard won 21-18 victory over #13 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the football equivalent of a Taliban cave stronghold. Teams don't stroll into Lane stadium and leave with a victory, but that is just what the Mountaineers did. And they did by beating Tech at their own game, running with abandon, playing stingy defense, and making the big plays when it counted.

In climbing back to the .500 mark for his WVU coaching career, Rich Rodriguez, achieved more than a great victory. Wednesday's game was a validation of his system, his coaching staff, and his own ability to lead a Division 1 school as a head coach.

It was especially sweet to the members of the defensive squad and their coaches. A lot of questions surrounded the defense after last year's horrid performance. Many looked sideways at the odd 3-3 stack alignment, the two-headed defensive coordinator concept, and just about every other aspect of the defensive game. Last night's defensive performance was a crowning jeweled in what has been a steady improvement from good, to very good, to dominating defensive play throughout the season.

The Mountaineer defense touched the "Untouchables" all night, keeping the tandem of Suggs and Jones to under 100 yards and a single TD. Meanwhile, WVU's own double barrel fired off for over 200 yards and two TD's. Make no mistake, Jones and Suggs are very good, its simply that Q & A are better.

I wouldn't even think to taint a win like that by pointing out any valleys! So let's put the spotlight on some of the lesser-mentioned highlights.

* You have to be happy for Derrick Smith. Derrick is playing in his one and only season as a Mountaineer, and up to now it had been a pretty quiet one for he and the other new receivers. However, Derrick had two monster catch-and-runs last night. With Miquelle Henderson still nursing a high ankle sprain, hopefully Derrick is going to use last night and next Saturday to put a sweet finish on this year.

* By busting it for 11 yds. a clip last night, Quincy continues his push to rank right up there in the NCAA standings for yards per carry.

* Just in case anybody doubted that Grant Wiley really is superman, I guess he decided to do the "leap tall buildings" thing to reinforce the idea. That has to rank as one of the greatest individual efforts I have ever seen in a goal line stand.

* I can't say that I agreed with taking the safety, I would rather have seen Rasheed quick kick it on third down, but you have to admire the guts and faith that Coach Rod showed in his "D".

Maybe best of all, we have an extra couple of days to enjoy the victory before we have to start thinking about the last game, so enjoy, and keep those fire extinguishers handy!

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