Royal Review: WVU-Marshall

West Virginia's bounceback 27-3 win has a number of Mountaineer faithful breathing easier today, and none more so than the Duke. His top ten observations and thoughts on the weekend reflect that mood.

10. West Virginia beat Marshall 27-3 and everything is right in the world again. Armageddon has been avoided. The offense racked up an impressive 493 yards of total offense and the defense was equally impressive, giving up just 158 yards of total offense.

9. College football is getting too crazy to understand. It started last year, and it's continuing into 2008. USC whacks Ohio State 35-3, then follows that with a loss to a 27-point underdog in Oregon State. At halftime, Alabama is blasting Georgia 31-0 despite a Bulldog blackouut (apparently that extended to the UGA offense).

And gang, if you think there is a meltdown on the BGN message boards, go read the Ohio State, USC and Georgia boards. USC lost to a 28-point underdog Stanford team last year and now Oregon State this year, with the supposedly the best talent in the NCAA. Ohio State's Tressel is under severe scrutiny with consecutive ugly national championship defeats and the USC embarrassment. Each of these teams were pronounced at one time or another this season and a lock for the national championship, along with Florida, which also lost. The moral of the story – things aren't so bad at West Virginia. The Mountaineers are simply experiencing what other top programs are going through. We need to take one game at a time as the season is not a sprint, but a marathon.

8. I am working on a large steel mill project in Mobile, Ala. and I usually fly into that city, but due to flight times and availability, from time to time I need into fly into Pensacola, Fla. and drive on I-10 West to Mobile. En route to Mobile on I-10 you will pass Daphne home of Patrick White. I always get the feeling that I should stop and thank the city for sending us such a great person and athlete to Morgantown.

7. Noel Devine was spectacular against the Herd, carrying 14 times for 125 yards. I've finally figured out who Noel runs like and it isn't Barry Sanders or Reggie Bush. It's more like the chicken in the 1979 film Rocky II. Remember the scene were Mickey uses a chicken for Rocky's training? Mickey throws the chicken down in the alley and it runs around in circles, stopping and darting all over and Rocky cannot catch it. The scene is a hoot:

Mickey: Why do you have to wear that stinkin' sweatsuit?

Rocky Balboa: It brings me luck, you know?

Mickey: Brings you luck. I'll tell you what it brings - it brings FLIES! Now here's what I want you to do - I want you to chase this little chicken.

Rocky Balboa: Hey yo, Mick, what do I got to chase a chicken for?

Mickey: First, because I said so. And second, is because chicken-chasing is how we used to train back in the old days. If you can catch this thing, you can catch greased lighting.

Rocky Balboa: Well, I'll do it if you say so, but it ain't very mature.

Mickey: Yeah, well NEITHER ARE YOU, very mature!

Can you imagine Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano pulling out a chicken for practice and saying, "All right boys, we are going to simulate tackling Noel Devine today with a little chicken-chasing." Go ahead and laugh, but it may be their best approach. Devine's darting, weaving, field-reversing runs were amazing on Saturday.

6. There are some defensive players who have really come on this year. Congratulations to Doug Slavonic, who is the poster boy for persistence. Not every player can be a four-year starter and All-American. Doug has paid his dues, and they are being paid back this year. His sack of Mark Cann, which culminated in a strip and fumble recovery was a terrific play.

Have you noticed how much time Brandon Hogan is seeing at the corner? Brandon went from being a terrific high school quarterback, to a wide receiver last year and was converted just this fall to corner and it appears that he now has a lock on this position. Against Marshall he played nearly the entire game, and recorded four tackles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Pretty impressive for his first-ever start as a defender.

5. I had a knucklehead fan sitting behind me for the game. He was screaming about how bad the defense is playing and at the end of the first half WVU yielded 83 yards and three points, and those were the result of a special teams turnover. Gang, I'm not confusing Marshall with LSU or USC, but the Herd is a very a respectable team, and to hold them to 83 yards in the first half and 158 yards for the game is a whale of a job. In fact, the West Virginia defense has not allowed a touchdown in seven consecutive quarters going back to the first quarter of the Colorado game.

4. When you are winning large you start thinking about things other than the game. Tonight the scoreboard was showing great highlights and on sidelines were Mountaineer greats - Dan Mozes, Marc Magro and Owen Schmitt, among others. It was great to see Owen hamming it up while on the score board, which drew big cheers from the crowd. Speaking of greats, in the north end zone there is one lonely number – Sam Huff's # 75. I think it is time to add either a #9 (Major Harris) or #90 (Darryl Talley)!

3. I mentioned this in week one, but I cannot get over how nice the Stadium looks. I cannot wait for the Thursday night game against Auburn as the ribbon boards on the east and west sides of the stadium will really make our stadium look like an NFL stadium. The ribbon board on the west side of the stadium was completed recently, and it really dresses things up.

2. Even though it's more a matter of perception, it was good to see Coach Stewart more involved in the timeouts. Last week against Colorado he stayed clear of the huddles, but several times against Marshall, Stewart was in the huddle and very animated. Coach Stewart should, and does, let his coaches hadnle the nitty-gritty of game planning and the Xs and Os, but he is a great motivator, and players respond to this. He simply must use his greatest asset – his motivational skills.

1. Pat White's 21-yard touchdown pass to Dorrell Jalloh in the second quarter was thing of beauty. The defender completely bought the pump fake and the ball was thrown perfectly to Jalloh. Pat was very solid going 17 for 21 for 130 yards, and I believe he can do much more. However, Marshall chose to keep the box uncrowded for much of the first half, which opened running lanes, wo the pass wasn't the first option in most cases this week.

See you in Morgantown next Saturday for the Big East opener against Rutgers!

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