Sunday, September 07, 2008

And There You Have It

Where to begin? I didn't put up football predictions this week. I just wasn't sure what was going to happen. The Villanova game didn't instill the amount of confidence in me that I would have liked and seeing ECU defeat Virginia Tech supplied a bit of concern. But we're talking about the potent WVU offense against a non-BCS team, right? And after seeing ECU defeat Virginia Tech, there's no way WVU would come out flat against the Pirates, correct?

First, the WVU offense couldn't run over the non-BCS team and, second, the team did play flat. And, obviously, lost 24-3. No serious drives. No serious threats. No outcome in question. Just a whipping in Greenville. So what happened?

I'm not going to lay the blame for the loss with Coach Bill Stewart but there were obviously some coaching issues in the game. For a team to play as badly as WVU played (and I don't want to take anything away from the good play of ECU) lies at the doorstep of the coaches. While the WVU defense played well at times, their soft schemes continue to frustrate Mountaineer fans. And the WVU offense fell into a similar pattern as the Pittsburgh game last year. There were no attempts to move the ball down the field and Pat White was singularly relied upon to make plays with his legs.

Following the Villanova game, Coach Stewart indicated that WVU had not opened up the playbook on the Wildcats and there were some new wrinkles that would be unveiled. Well, I didn't see anything that looked any different than the offense the Rich Rodriguez has run for the past 6 years. If anything, it looked as though the playbook was actually reduced in size. Once again it goes to coaching. The execution wasn't there which means the players were not properly practiced for the game and when it became evident that the plays were not going to work, there was no attempt to make any changes to fix the broken system. Instead, WVU relied on the same old plays that created the deficit, much like last year's Pittsburgh game.

So, where do we go from here? A tough game at Colorado and then we get to come home for games against Marshall, Rutgers, Syracuse and Auburn. There are probably 2 guaranteed wins in there but games against Colorado, Rutgers and Auburn could be tough. If we're coming out of October with 3 or 4 losses, expect Mountaineer fans to begin jumping ship and demanding the head of Coach Stewart. Those that aren't now, anyway. And, if this team doesn't improve immensely over the next 10-days, the Mountaineers could be sporting a losing record when they return to Milan-Puskar Stadium.

I'm not giving up yet. The Big East is very weak this year and it's still very possible WVU could have just had a bad week and turn it around, win the Big East and go to another BCS bowl. But what I have seen the first two weeks of the season doesn't necessarily give me a lot of confidence. If this team falters and posts a poor record, we could be seeing a rapid demise of Mountaineer football. It's too soon to say, but if things go south, they could stay there for a long time.

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