10. Ugly is beautiful when you win. The 24-17 win over Rutgers won't get West Virginia any beauty contest awards, but the Mountaineers are now 1-0 in the Big East. As legendary North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano said in 1983 on the Wolf Pack's run to the NCAA Basketball Championship, the goal is to "survive and advance." The analogy has been made that the college football season is a season long tournament, and three weeks from now this game will simply be remembered as a "W."
9. It was unfortunate to hear that linebacker Reed Williams needs to put the 2008 season on the shelf due his shoulder injuries, but Anthony Leonard certainly made the most of his opportunity replacing the Moorefield, W. Va. standout in the middle. Leonard led the Mountaineers with nine tackles. Let's hope that Reed makes a full recovery and we are able to see his talents again in 2009.
8. I heard some fans grumbling when Ellis Lankster caught a punt late the first quarter at the eight-yard line and returned it 1for just a one-yard gain. The fens felt that Ellis should have allowed the ball to go into the end zone for the touchback. I can see their point of view, but I must say that Ellis may be among the best that I have seen at West Virginia at making the first tackler miss on returns, and I've seen some good ones in Willie Drewrey, Nate Terry and Adam "Pacman" Jones. I'm not saying he is the best, but he has an uncanny ability to make the first tackler miss, which puts him in position to break off a long one. With that potential, catching a punt at the eight is probably worth the risk.
7. Rutgers' Kenny Britt has a big day, catching 12 balls for 151 yards. It is easy to criticize the West Virginia secondary for not shutting down Britt with tighter coverage, but there are some factors to consider. First, Britt is big time NFL material. Draft analyst Mel Kiper has given Britt high marks already as a junior. Second, Rutgers has some other talented wide receivers, such as Tiquan Underwood and Tim Brown, and West Virginia simply could not ignore these other wide receivers. I actually felt that Britt could have had a much bigger day, but Mike Teel misfired a couple of times and other times he didn't lead him well enough in order to maximize yards after catch. All in all in was a great experience for youngsters like Brandon Hogan and Robert Sands to face this level of talent.
6. I deeply enjoy the pre-game video showing West Virginia's rich football history. I haven't missed a home game since my freshman year in 1982, so all my memories are with the current flying WV helmet. The one photograph that always strikes me, however, is black and white photograph of Bobby Moss, Sam Huff, Bruce Bosley, Joe Marconi and Fred Wyant. To me that photograph represents West Virginia's version of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen.
5. West Virginia's defense has some youngsters that are performing well on the defensive line and it speaks very well for now and in the future. Sophomore linemen Scooter Berry and Chris Neild both had strong performances, as Scooter had five tackles including a sack and Chris had six tackles. Scooter essentially ended the game when he dropped back into pass coverage and knocked down Mike Teel's fourth down pass to end the game.
4. Head Coach Bill Stewart needs to sit down again with special teams coach Bill Stewart and discuss the squib kick from late in the second quarter. The head coach was congratulating his team as they left the field, but Rutgers had the ball at their 46-yard line with 56 seconds to go, and the Scarlet Knights didn't waste the chance. Rutgers moved quickly down the field and scored to cut WVU's lead to 17-10. Coach Stewart supported this style of kick in his post game, but it will be interesting to see if this situation arises again if he sticks to the squib kick.
3. On the other hand, give Stewart credit for a tremendous call on Zac Cooper's 18-yard run on the fake punt in the third quarter. This conversion led to a Jarrett Brown touchdown and showed that Coach Stewart was playing to win.
2. I'm going to go against the tide on this, but I'm not a big fan of bringing Jarrett Brown in on third and short packages. If the coaching staff wants to get Jarrett Brown some reps and bring him into the game for a series or two that is fine, but I don't like the idea of bringing in a quarterback that isn't in the flow of the game for a such a critical play. West Virginia was 4-7 with Brown carrying the ball on plays with two or fewer yards to go, but WVU failed to come up with a first down on either of its last two attempts in those situations. Maybe putting Brown under center on the last attempt on fourth down might have been a better move?
1. It was great seeing the 1988 Mountaineer team at the game. We all frequently see clips of that great team, but it was 20 years ago, and it was interesting to see how the years have treated them. More than 50 players turned out and were recognized on the field for their undefeated regular season and national championship shot.
See you in Morgantown next Saturday for the Homecoming Game with Syracuse.