10 Things That Will Go Down Tomorrow: Syracuse

Welcome home.  This is a little bigger than Pony Lewis Field, isn't it?

Welcome home. This is a little bigger than Pony Lewis Field, isn't it?

It’s homecoming weekend in Morgantown, so you know what that means, right? Don’t go downtown this evening. There’s a parade and the traffic will be awful. Oh, right, and we play Syracuse tomorrow. I was wondering in that “if a tree falls in the woods” sort of way: who does Syracuse play for homecoming? Does Oneida have a team? Just wondering. I’ve looked into the Magic 8 Ball and I’ve decided that the following will go down at stadium tomorrow:

  1. Pat White finishes the game. Bold prediction, I know.
  2. Syracuse keeps it closer than we would like throughout the first half infuriating fans.
  3. Racist West Virginians take out their displeasure at The Express by hurling epithets at the opposing bench. Wait, I’m pretty sure that usually happens.
  4. Noel Devine slices and dices, and embarrasses a couple of members of Orange D.
  5. Morgantown native and Syracuse kicker Patrick Shadle is both cheered and jeered. The closer the game, the less the hometown crowd likes him.
  6. Morty Ivy spends quite awhile in the Orange’s backfield.
  7. Chris Gunnoe, of U92 Sports, does a kick-ass job sideline reporting for ESPN-U. Unfortunately no one in Morgantown gets ESPN-U, so we’ll have to take his word for it.
  8. Bill Stewart uses the word “dagummit” in his halftime remarks.
  9. Prior to kickoff, hilarity ensues in the light blue lot. I can’t tell you what, but my sources point to it involving cold beer, deep fried turkey legs and a viking helmet.
  10. The ‘Eers lay a beating on the Orange and give them a little more confidence for their big Oct. 23rd showdown with the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers fired their Offensive Coordinator this week. That game is looking more and more winnable. C’mon people, who’s with me?

WVU: 35 Syracuse: 10

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This and that.

Looks like he remembered which way to run.

Looks like he remembered which way to run.

So, some random notes from around Mountaineer-dom this week:

  • Despite leaving the game early against both Rutgers and Marshall, #5 expects to play this week’s tilt with the Orange. However, he was held out of practice on Tuesday and reporters were instructed not to ask him about the Rutgers game because he doesn’t remember it. That seemed a little troubling to me.
  • Looks like Anthony Leonard will start this week in the place of newly redshirted Reed Williams.
  • This Friday, The Express, the story of Ernie Davis the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy will open all across the country. As the movie follows the 1959 Orangemen throughout their season guess where Mr. Davis meets the most racial intolerance? You got it. Morgantown, West Virginia. Problem is, the ‘Eers and Orange DIDN’T play in Morgantown that year. Way to go Hollywood. After making West Virginians look pretty damned decent in We Are Marshall you’ve gone back to your redneck stereotypes. Former Mountaineers, Orangemen, and Micky Furfari are not happy about it. Ironically enough Ben Schwartzwalder, the Syracuse head coach who dared to play his African American star, was a West Virginian.
  • Finally, you aren’t the only one with concerns about the Offense. Looks like Tajh Boyd, despite committing to WVU, appears to be looking elsewhere as well. He’s taking official visits to Tennessee, Oregon and Boston College. Gulp. This is the kid who was supposed to run the team after J.B. graduates, if he can’t do it you’re gonna have too.

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Rutgers Recap

Look mom!  A tight end!  AND he's got the football!

Look mom! A tight end! AND he's got the football!

The State University of New Jersey came to Morgantown this weekend and left with a loss, just as we had thought. Now there were some of us, myself included, who thought the final score would be significantly more lopsided. There are also some of us, myself included again, who will take it.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Despite the lack of a lopsided score sheet, the ‘Eers pretty much dominated the day. JB looked good again as the wild card (cue Charlie from It’s Always Sunny in Philiadelphia: “wild card!”) but also ended up finishing the day under center. That’s because, of course, Pat White couldn’t finish the game again this week. Now, I’m hoping this is because the coaching staff is handling #5 with caution so we’ll have him down the stretch. The problem is, it also could be that a regular human being is not meant to take the beating that White has taken during his career in Morgantown. Despite not being a pretty win, and it really wasn’t pretty, I still think the ‘Eers are capable of running the table in conference and moving on to the BCS. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in Morgantown who thinks that, but I do.

Reed Williams will redshirt which sucks, but isn’t that big of a deal because the defense is easily our most effective unit right now. (I can’t believe I just typed that). We also threw the ball to a Tight End for the first time in 3 seasons when White found Tyler Urban for a first quarter score. For those of you who don’t believe me, there’s photographic evidence at the top of this post.

All told, the most exciting part of Saturday afternoon was in the student section, where anyone wearing red was fair game. I witnessed one Rutgers fan walking up the aisle being mercilessly heckled with chants of “asshole”. This is behavior that I condone. Unfortunately, this Scarlet Knight decided that the best course of action was to throw a punch at the nearest Mountaineer fan. This is not behavior I condone. The entire section responded in kind, beating on this kid before security hauled him out of the upper deck with a bloodied face. I will make this clear for anyone who might have thought differently: the student section at Mountaineer Field is no place for children, the elderly or opposing fans. Seriously.

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10 Things That Will Go Down Tomorrow: Rutgers

If we had to face these guys, THEN I'd be worried.

If we had to face these guys, THEN I'd be worried.

It’s the eve of another gameday in Morgantown and, for the first time all season, the Mountaineers enter with some form of momentum.  Let’s face it, despite sending thousands of their own here to go to school, Jersey hasn’t fared well at Mountaineer Field.  In fact, Rutgers has never won here.  They won’t tomorrow, either.  This team has collapsed quicker than a High St. drunk and, without Ray Rice, they just don’t have the legs to stand on.  The following ten things shall occur:

  1. Boat loads of Noel Devine.  After last week’s coming out party, it’s time for #7 show he can be consistent week in and week out.
  2. Pat White airs it out a little more against an awful Rutgers secondary.
  3. The D comes up big and forces Mike Teel to throw into some awful situations, which turn into really good situations for WVU.
  4. Reed Williams stays on the sidelines, and the will-he-or-won’t-he redshirt soap opera continues.
  5. More interesting looks for Jarrett Brown.  This time JB hauls in a pass, albeit not a long one.
  6. Mark Rodgers gets a few more touches, this time as a back-up instead of only in garbage time.
  7. Schiano throws a headset.
  8. Assholes from New Jersey permeate the student section. Wait a second….
  9. Morty Ivy and Mike Teel get really, really close.
  10. I get up before noon, for a change.

WVU: 35  Rutgers: 9

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Uh-oh.

No need to cry.  Yet.

No need to cry. Yet.

Sooooooooo…… looks like Reed Williams, despite making big plays in the Marshall game, isn’t out of the woods yet. He was described as “questionable” at Coach Stew’s Tuesday afternoon press conference which sent the West Virginia sports talk-a-razzi into a tizzy. The big question being, did we blow Reed’s chances of a medical redshirt if he really is too banged up to go? Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail is happy to clear things up for you:

Big-time confusion calls for a big-time clarification. Reed Williams has until after the Syracuse game to decide whether he’ll take a medial redshirt or play on through the pain he’s experiencing in his shoulders. We were told a decision had to be made in the team’s first four games, which made this week’s news he was questionable somewhat alarming — the four-game deadline had passed.

In truth Reed can play four games — two down, two to go — before making a decision and those four must be in the first half of a championship sport season. In short, he can play/sit the next two games before he picks red or the old gold and blue. I’d apologize for the confusion, but, frankly, it’s not my fault.

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Ribbon board and random thoughts

On the run.

On the run.

Just some random notes from the weekend:

  • What did folks think of the new “ribbon boards” which now hang on the lip of each upper deck? I thought they were a nice addition, though I’d like to see more stats and less advertisements. The lyrics during the Alma Mater and the Star Spangled Banner were nice, except for some curious punctuation during the national anthem. Seriously, how many question marks did you think were in that song? Apparently quite a few. Hands down the highlight of the new scoreboard is that when Devine makes a big play the first thing the fans are treated too is a fifty foot shot of his gold grillz. Nice touch U.
  • I didn’t have this forum last season, but the University slighted some seriously hardcore Mountaineer fans by doing away with the standing room section which was in the vicinity of the Touchdown Terrace and team shop. I think a decent standing room section is a must. It was such a treat to know exactly where you could find a good view of the game and a great place to meet friends. I’m even more pissed about it because during the first half of the game Saturday I was reminded that I’m too old to be up in the student section. The irony, of course, is that it wasn’t students who were the most foolish people around me this weekend, but folks a little older than me “re-living” their time in Morgantown. I’m a peaceful guy, but I was this close to throwing an elbow to bloody some chud’s nose.
  • Would anyone else love to see us run a two-qb system? I sure would. It definitely jeopardizes J.B.’s ability to be an effective back-up to #5, but it could be absolutely lethal. Imagine White, Brown and Devine breaking the huddle with an opposing defense with no clue who would take the snap, run the ball, or line-up at receiver. I think that fraction of a second would be all it would take to see us running roughshod over opponents again.
  • How great was it to see Owen Schmitt back at Mountaineer Field? I swear the rowdiest the student section got during the second half was when they showed him (still rockin’ the mohawk!) on the video board.
  • Another great day in the League for Steve. Our boy Slaton racked up 116 total yards on 10 carries and 8 receptions which included catching a 30-yard TD pass to find paydirt for the second consecutive week. Highlight’s are here. Downside, of course, is that his Texans are win-less at 0-3.
  • Finally, check out the Hurting Dolphins podcast. It’s hosted by my friends Pat and Mike, and it’s pretty damn funny. I can’t say their podcasts are about anything in particular, but it had me laughing all morning while I put off working on my Master’s Thesis. For doing such a good deed, they deserve a link.

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Marshall Recap

Slices and dices.

Slices and dices.

If you felt more wind than usual last night in Morgantown, that was the collective sigh of relief breathed all across the city. Some folks, but not this blog, convinced themselves it was possible to actually lose this one. Nope. Sorry. We won and won big. Now, Pat White went down, which is never good, but post-game Stew described him as “fine”. Jarrett Brown played well in relief and, with the exception of his one interception, and looked like we could count on him to come through when we need him.

The real story on offense was Devine, who finally looked like the runner we knew he could be. His dash at the end of the second quarter where he reversed field, was pursued all the way to the far sideline, and then just broke the defender’s ankles with a stop and spin move to gain ten more yards was a thing of beauty. I was pretty sure that only happened in video games. Stew didn’t even mismanage the clock at the end of the first half, he left that up to White, so I guess that’s something.

The real story was the defense, which looked suffocating. They were in the backfield all day and forced three big turnovers which was a nice surprise. It’s nice to see them flying around making things happen out there as opposed to just trying to hold the line. Having our full contingent of linebackers back was a big step forward too, as it’s our most experience unit on the D.

All in all, we’re back to where we were after the ‘Nova game. We have to ask ourselves how good we were, and how bad was our opponent? Despite the probable answer to both of those, I see the season slowly righting itself. Take care of business against Rutgers and Syracuse at home over the next two weeks, and we could be right where we want to be when Auburn comes to town. Primed to prove ourselves and make that next step. I can’t wait.

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10 Things That Will Go Down Tomorrow: Marshall

I wasn't worried about this guy, either.

I wasn't worried about this guy, either.

So, here we sit, on the eve of the second home game for the ’08 crop of Mountaineers. When I think back to what I thought before the season opener, and compare it to what I think now, I shudder. That said, I still feel like I’m one of the most optimistic Mountaineer fans out there, as I’ve heard everyone I know lambaste McAffee, Stewart and the Defense ad nauseum. Honestly, I still believe in all three and think that, with the help of good ‘ole #5, the ‘Eers are still going to turn in a successful season. Seriously. Win the Big East. It can be done. The rampant homerism will continue, and I’m optimistic about what’s going to happen against Marshall High School University tomorrow. Ten things that I think we’ll see at Mountaineer Field tomorrow:

  1. A little more downfield passing. But only barely.
  2. Pat White looking more and more like the Pat White we know.
  3. Marshall fans in the parking lot mistakenly saying “us” when referring to WVU. Because they, like, you know, root for us the rest of the year.
  4. John Sanders somehow working “Bending, bending….good” into the telecast.
  5. Jarret Brown inserted in the backfield, but not at quarterback…
  6. …and he makes a big play the first time he’s in the game…
  7. …and he gets hurt on the second play, reminding us what it means to be Mountaineer fans.
  8. Reed Williams makes big plays, and gets bigger cheers from the hometown faithful.
  9. Jock Sanders breaks one on a kick return.
  10. Post game, Stewart and Snyder compliment each other’s team enough to make you not believe a word of it.

WVU: 31 Marshall: 13

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Beilein happy at Michigan

Looks a little confused, must be explaining the 1-3-1

Looks a little confused, must be explaining the 1-3-1

Beilein had this to say at a coaches clinic in Ann Arbor:

“I have finally come to a place that I love,” Beilein said. “I have said that there are only two places I would rather coach at.

“One is an orphanage, because I wouldn’t have their parents bothering me. And second, a prison, because I wouldn’t have to worry about the alumni coming back.”

Some on the message boards have taken offense, but I don’t. I loved Beilein when he was here, and wish him the best at Michigan (where I’m convinced he’ll take the Wolverines to the Final Four). Besides, I’m totally cool with his replacement, which is more than I can say about the football side of things.

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Boys in the Bigs: Slaton’s coming out party

Stevie muscles past a defender on a 50 yard dash

Stevie muscles past a defender on a 50 yard dash

So, it was a pretty bad weekend of football for me. The Mounties embarrass themselves in the Rockies and the Steelers can’t keep the pass rush off of Ben in Filthadelphia. To add insult to injury, both of my Fantasy Football teams are hanging by a thread going into tonight’s Monday night tilt. That said, there was one Mountaineer who had a good weekend, and that was Steve Slaton.

Slaton got his first career start against the Tennessee Titans yesterday (though he carried most of the load in Week One as well) and he turned in a gem. Against a stingy Titans defense Steve carried the ball 18 times for 116 yards and a Touchdown, as well as catching four passes. He tore off a 50 yarder in the first half, and picked up his first career TD on a six yard power run.

Watch the highlights here.

The Houston Texans’ official website shows that people in Texas are a little excited about their rookie runner:

Rookie Steve Slaton proved on Sunday that he is going to be something special. In his first NFL start, the running back rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown.

He did all of this against the a Tennessee defense that came into the game ranked second against the run, allowing only 60.5 yards rushing per game. The Titans defense also boasts three Pro Bowl linemen, including ends Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosh and tackle Albert Haynesworth.

“He played a lot of plays,” head coach Gary Kubiak said of Slaton. “We were going to rotate him, but he played so well we kept going with him. I liked the way he broke tackles. He just kept going and gave us a chance to make big plays.”

Slaton’s longest run came on a 50-yard scamper in the first quarter when he bounced off the defensive line and sprinted up the sideline for the second-longest run in Texans history.

In the second quarter, the rookie came up with a clutch first-down conversion when the Texans were fourth-and-one at Tennessee’s 11-yard line. On the next play, Slaton got into the end zone for a six-yard touchdown.

By halftime Slaton had racked up 104 yards on the ground, but he was used less in the second half when quarterback Matt Schaub started connecting with his receivers.

“We probably got away from the run game too quick in the second half, in all honestly,” Kubiak said. “We ran the ball good in the first half. He has a chance to be a fine player; he’s just got to keep going.”

“He has that speed and with our system he can break one at any time and I think he proved that. I wish we would’ve been able to get him the ball more in the second half.” – Eric Winston on Steve Slaton
The head coach wasn’t the only Texan praising Slaton.

“I knew Slaton was good,” offensive tackle Eric Winston said. “We all knew. He has that speed and with our system he can break one at any time and I think he proved that. I wish we would’ve been able to get him the ball more in the second half.

“I think he’s a guy that can just light (up the scoreboard) at any point. You’re going to see a lot more of him. I thought he showed a lot of heart out there. He ran tough. He’s a tough kid. He’s not big, but he took some shots and kept plugging his legs. I know he got a lot of respect out of us.”

Slaton’s banner day, however, was clouded by the offense’s struggles in the red zone where the Texans were 1-6 and forced to settle for two field goals instead of touchdowns.

“I think you can take a little joy out of it,” Slaton said. “As an offense, we have to work on the red zone and putting points on the board. If we do the same thing we did today but come out with six points instead of three, I think we’ll be doing a lot better.”

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