Royal Review: Villanova

It was great to be back in Mountaineer Field on such a beautiful day. Opening a new era in West Virginia football was just an added bonus as the 2008 season got underway.

Let's get right to the countdown!

10. After 18 holes of golf or working in the yard all day there isn't anything quite as good as that first drink of beer. Making the analogy to the game today, I look for tidbits on the Silver Lot all winter, spring and summer, I read all the college prep magazines despite their lack of knowledge of our program, and lastly I listen to the prognosticators on ESPN. Finally, after waiting nine long months, you walk into Mountaineer Field. It simply is the best feeling – just like that first beer after a long day's work.

9. The stadium looked awesome today. The new blue & gold section numbers, the new scoreboard and ribbon boards really add to the atmosphere. I couldn't help but to think about early 80's and the infancy of Mountaineer Field when the fans would sit on the open grass hillside on the north end of the stadium. I recall a Syracuse game where it rained most of the day. Willie Drewrey was running wild and the hillside was a muddy mess. Look how far we have come with the suites and all these new improvements. Can anyone really say they have better facilities than ours?

8. I was amazed at the number of fans openly counting down when the score board introductions counted down to a "New Era" (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) and the Mountaineer blasted his musket. There was a real sense of finalization of the whole past off-season. It was a great transition to this year.

7. J. T. Thomas looked like he was shot out of a cannon on his blocked punt. With his incredible speed, I'm betting we see that two or three more times this season. What's even more amazing was that WVU didn't have a punt block call on the play -- it was setting up a return. J.T. simply made a play on his own.

6. An alarming stat was the time of possession. Villanova held the ball for 37:22 while West Virginia had it for just 22:38. Coach Stewart rationalized some of this in his post game conference saying that we had some quick offensive strikes, but the longest offensive play was only 34 yards and next longest was 24 yards. We must get some quicker stops at East Carolina and Colorado or we are going to have some long days.

5. I'm concerned about the running game. We don't run enough or well between the tackles with our backs. Quincy Wilson ran between the tackles and so did Avon Cobourne. I believe Steve Slaton also ran between the tackles his first two years and last year it fell off and everything was outside. Many fans thought Steve's lack of production was because he got too heavy and/or he lost speed, but I'm beginning to think otherwise (not that I ever thought Steve lost his super status). It appears that Mr. Slaton will be starting for the NFL's Houston Texans so can Steve really be the problem? Of course, opposing defenses loading the box have a lot to do with that as well, but at some point WVU will have to be able to grind a few yards out inside.

4. Today we attempted 34 passes and ran the ball only 22 times. That is simply unheard of in recent times -- and there is both good news and bad news in this. The good news is that in the past seven years when teams put nine in the box we forced the run and everyone was crying for us to throw the ball. The bad news is that this was Villanova and we should have been able to run despite nine in the box -- at least in theory.

3. I realize we played Villanova today, but Pat White was 25-33 for 205 yards. There appeared to be five legit drops and the interception was not Pat's fault. I'm convinced that after this season -- and despite what Mel Kiper, Jr. says -- that Pat will play in the NFL as a quarterback. His mechanics are solid and his throws are very accurate and catchable. Add in a season of tutelage under Jeff Mullen with opportunities to throw down field and I believe he has good shot. If Oregon's Dennis Dixon can make the Pittsburgh Steelers, than Pat White can play in the NFL.

2. What a weekend around the region! West Virginia wins, Pitt loses and the Bengals' Chad Johnson has legally changed his name to "Chad Javon Ocho Cinco." The Trifecta!!

1. Lastly - we are one victory closer to playing for the National Championship in Miami, Florida on January 8, 2009. There's still a long way to go, though!

See you in Greenville, North Carolina next Saturday as West Virginia takes on East Carolina, which knocked off Virginia Tech in Charlotte. The Pirates do well in the Queen City, having upset West Virginia there in 1999.


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