Royal Review: West Virginia - Colorado

The Duke shares his views on WVU's trip to Rocky Mountain country, and as might be expected the view from on high isn't a pretty one.

A contingent of about 4,000 spirited Mountaineer fans packed into Colorado's Folsom Field for an ESPN Thursday night game, but the Mountaineers could not capitalize on that support as they dropped a 17-14 overtime decision to the Buffaloes.

10. Call it unsportsmanlike, but there is no way West Virginia should have lost this game. The team with the better players did not win. The Mountaineers should have won this game by 10 to 14 points. Colorado is not that good of a team. While WVU's defense and special teams played very solid games, the high-powered offense was not allowed to play to its potential due to overly conservative play calling.

9. There is playing conservative football and playing it "close-to-the-vest," but it appears that the West Virginia staff simply doesn't trust anyone with the ball other than Pat White and Noel Devine. Other than Jock Sanders no one else really touched the ball. The coaching staff must diversify and get the ball to other talents. What has happened to Alric Arnett? Where is the tight end?

8. Continuing on the conservative play calling theme, it appears that the West Virginia coaching staff is treating Pat White like a freshman quarterback. They seem afraid he is going to make a mistake instead of treating him like a quarterback who received significant consideration for the Heisman Trophy last year and is candidate again for the award this year.

I thought after the Villanova game that the coaches were really going to showcase Pat's entire package of skills - apparently not. Laugh if want, but as Kansas City Chiefs coach Herm Edwards says, "You play to win the game!" I believe there is a significant difference between wanting to win the game (which the staff undoubtedly does) and playing to win.

7. The West Virginia coaching staff did call one great play in the fourth quarter when White threw a lateral pass to Bradley Starks who then threw a forward pass to a wide open Jock Sanders. The ball fluttered out of Starks' hand and fell short of Sanders. If Starks throws it anwhere near Sanders, it was an easy touchdown.

6. I was surprised how antiquated the Colorado score board was, as it appeared to be a generation or two behind the current technology. The stadium reminded me of Maryland's Byrd Stadium in many respects (e.g. patching on decks & sections and the size), and that is fitting since this game replaced the Maryland game.

5. I may be way off base, but it is very surprising to me that Coach Stewart doesn't join the team during offensive timeouts -- at least to give them encouragement if nothing else. During a key timeout in the forth quarter Coach Stewart was strolling the sideline by himself while the team was discussing the next play. I could understand if Coach Stewart had the philosophy of letting his coaches coach if they were veterans, but with our young offensive staff I believe he could add stability to the situation.

4. In the forth quarter West Virginia was at its 44-yard line with a third down and 28 situation. Noel Devine got the ball and lost a yard (again showing WVU's unevenblocking ability.) But why not throw deep? If Colorado intercepts it is the same as a punt and you have them pinned back. If the pass is incomplete then West Virginia is simply punting. I understand trying to catch Colorado off-guard with a run, but when everyone in stadium knows only two guys are touching the ball...

3. One unexpected treat was watching Colorado's buffalo mascot, Ralphie, run around the field before the start of the game and second half. It is beyond me how 4-5 people could possibly control this beast. Ralphie was fast and strong and for them to guide Raphie into the trailer was nearly miraculous.

2. I really didn't believe that the return of Reed Williams would have a significant impact on the West Virginia defense, as the linebacker position is one of West Virginia's deepest and most talented positions. I could not have been more incorrect. Williams showed guts, smarts and leadership, and he really helped the defense shut down Colorado after the poor start. In the second half WVU recorded three three-and-outs, and continually applied pressure to Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins.

1. Gang, I'm not sure where this leaves this West Virginia team. The Mountaineers have some tough opponents coming around the corner, but unless this coaching staff lets the offensive players loose, we are heading for stormy weather.

See you in Morgantown next Saturday for Marshall game.

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