10. Many Mountaineers fans, including myself, were concerned on how this team would respond after a discouraging overtime loss Cincinnati. The players and coaching staff, however, really pulled through with a very convincing 35-21 victory over the Cardinals. While the stats may indicate that this was a close game, West Virginia was literally an inch or two from blowing this game wide open.
9. The story of the game, and rightly so, was Patrick White and his 200 yards rushing – a record setting day. Just as important, however, were each of his six completed passes. Bradley Starks stepped in for the injured Wes Lyons and came up with three big catches. While Alric Arnett's 52-yard reception on a 3rd and seven in the second quarter didn't result in a score it seemed to give West Virginia a tremendous amount of momentum. Someone behind me commented in the third quarter that West Virginia hadn't thrown to Dorrell Jalloh yet, and on the very next play Pat throws a strike on 3rd and 10 for a touchdown to Jalloh. Jock Sanders added a back-breaking touchdown in the fourth quarter as well. The encouraging part of Pat's passes was each pass seemed to be a meaningful down field pass -- and we saw much less of the "bubble screen," which opponents have come to expect.
8. Louisville's pregame entrance is one of the weakest I've ever seen in college football. The Louisville players simply walk out of their facilities building, huddle up between two inflatable cardinals and then run onto the field. Couple this with an undersized college band, and well, it just seemed to be missing something - emotion. Their jumbo screen showed fans cheering instead of highlighting their history or even showing 2008 highlights.
7. While the pregame entrance missed the mark on excitement, both the West Virginia and Louisville teams met in the center of field about 45 minutes prior to Louisville band coming onto the field and it appeared that the teams were ready to rumble. Fortunately, coaches from both teams and game officials stepped in to prevent an ugly situation. Interestingly, Louisville's Victor Anderson, a one time West Virginia verbal commit, appeared to be leading the charge in talking a little smack. Just as interesting was when the game ended Victor Anderson was the first player to greet Coach Bill Stewart in the center of the field. Stewart said afterward that the confrontation between players consisted of little more than "good-natured jawing" and also complimented Anderson, who he recruited while a WVU assistant two years ago.
6. For the fourth consecutive week, Jock Sanders dropped a critical downfield pass – this week he had two that he should have come up with. I cannot comprehend why they continue to throw downfield to Jock -- other than he must be making these catches in practice. Jock finally redeemed himself with a nice 25-yard catch in the fourth quarter for a touchdown.
5. Another big difference between last year's team and this year's team is Steve Slaton catching the ball out of the backfield. Speaking of Steve, he is having a tremendous rookie season with the Houston Texans, rushing for 701 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, while also catching 32 balls for a total of seven touchdowns.
4. We had a spirited ride home after the game as my two travel companions insisted that we must root for Pitt against Cincinnati in order to keep our BCS Bowl hopes alive, while I took the position that you cannot root for Pitt in any circumstance. Cincinnati beat Pitt 28-21, but Cincinnati must still defeat Syracuse next week and as Yogi Berra used to say, "it ain't over ‘til over." If Cincinnati comes off an emotional game and doesn't focus for next week's game it could stumble against the Orange.
3. Looking at the defensive statistics for the game, 23 Mountaineers appeared in the box score for making as least one tackle. My defensive game ball goes to the guy who didn't appear in the box score, Chris Neild. After the first couple of drives Louisville was getting considerable movement from their offensive line, so bad ankle and all, Chris sucked it up and really helped to stabilize the middle. While clearly limping on a bad ankle and unable to hold his ground with his usual grit, Neild still had an impact inside. His partner, Julian Miller, earned two more sacks and is really becoming a force in putting pressure on the quarterback.
2. Congratulations to White on breaking Missouri's Brad Smith NCAA quarterback rushing record of 4,289 career yards with a 200-yard rushing performance. It seemed like old times watching Pat break from the pack and sprinting down the sidelines. It is hard to imagine we'll only get to see him play three more times.
1. Well gang, it is that time of the year again – The Backyard Brawl. Our BCS hopes, to me, are very much alive, but West Virginia must take care of business at Heinz Field on Friday. I work in Pittsburgh and we employ several Pitt graduates, and they thoroughly enjoy coming into my office and lifting my 2008 Fiesta Bowl Championship mug and turning it around to highlight the December 1, 2007 score – Pitt 13 West Virginia 9. All I want to say is: Old grads and young lads I hope to see all of you in Pittsburgh Friday so we can cheer on our Mountaineers to Victory!
To everyone, have a Happy Thanksgiving!