Walking back to the tailgate after Saturday’s pitch and catch session, it was difficult to wrap my head around exactly what we just saw and what it means. It was comforting to see just about everyone else with the same befuddled look. At that moment we were armed with some, but not all of the gaudy statistics that have been posted and re-posted by every media outlet that covers college football over the past few days. What we did know is that we just witnessed a 70-63 shootout that showcased the best offensive and perhaps worst defensive execution we had ever seen by the Mountaineers. In a game where we had hoped to find a positive answer about whether our defense could stand up to the test, we received a startlingly negative answer, yet it didn’t matter. It is awe inspiring to think that our offense is so majestic that it can pull out wins on days like this, but at the same time, unless the defense significantly improves, we will find ourselves on the wrong end of couple of these. The next questions are, can the defense improve and was that anomaly? Is Geno the next candidate to land on the moon?
The good thing is that we that we shouldn’t see another offense of that caliber again all year. While we probably won’t see a defense that bad again either, I will say that I walked away thinking that we could operate on the same level against far better defenses (Heck Clemson was). I could be a homer here, but from my perspective we had more methodical drives, outside of the handful of times that they left us wide open, as compared to Baylor’s huge plays that I can attribute to some awful angles and tackles. Outside of those huge plays, we brought a lot of pressure and had them backed up on numerous occasions That does not erase all of the third down conversions we allowed, but there seemed to be numerous big plays that were mistakes that are correctable. Not trying to say that by correcting a few mistakes we are going to be rolling Prime Time or Pacman out there, but hopefully we make our boundaries look closer to Revis Island than the isle of Greenland.
One thing is for certain though, the Mountaineers have captured the attention of the nation. It doesn’t matter if you were on CBS, ESPN, or Sports Illustrated, if you were reading the lead story on college football this Sunday, all focus was on Morgantown or more specifically Geno Smith. Bruce Feldman went so far to say that we watched “arguably the most prolific passing performance in major college football history”. On Monday night, if you were to look at the college football page on the New York Times site, four of the top eight headlines are about the mountaineers. Everyone’s mother has conceded the Heisman to Geno. Even Lebron tweeted: “Man Geno Smith is RIDICULOUS out there man!!!” The press around this team is so unprecedented for us that is hard to let it all sink in. The opportunities continue this weekend as most of the aforementioned columns can attest, theeyes of the nation will be upon us, as we travel to Texas Saturday night.
First of all, I would like to state that I am disappointed no one wanted to take me up on last year’s suggestion to make this a driving road trip. I think crushing PBRs in Texarkana would’ve been awesome. It’s not to late to reverse plans . . .
There is no doubt that this is one of our biggest games in Mountaineer history. Is it the biggest? I think we are getting ahead of ourselves here; there have been plenty of huge games in our history, even those predating the three BCS bowls. Too often we build games up to epic proportions prior to kickoff as games of the century and they turn out to be duds. Other times they are not duds, but if you look back five years later, were they really that meaningful? The Bush Push game at Notre Dame was a great game and by the Beard of Zeus, any ND fan will say it was the Game of the Century, but seriously . . . in retrospect there are many more defining moments. Okay off the soapbox. I just find the that type of rhetoric over the top.
The opening line has us at 6.5 point underdogs, we are playing at a historic venue that sits 100k+, and how can we expect to win when we gave up 63 points to Baylor last week when we are playing a real defense, that has a rolling offense to this point in the season? Judging by what I have heard over the past few days, you all know why we can, should, or will lose Saturday, depending on your demeanor. I’m trying to not be a homer, but I am going to point out the positives, because you already know the negatives. Texas’s defense is not as good as advertised. They are currently 64th in the country and just gave up a ton of yards to Oklahoma State’s backup, freshman quarterback. David Ash has looked much better so far this year, but Texas’s offense is built around their rushing game. Our rushing defense is 39th; not great, but not nearly as bad the pass defense. Holgo’s offense may be the best in country. We have a tough task this week, but we have tough tasks the rest of the year up through Kansas. This is what we signed up for, so bring it on.
We won’t go undefeated this year, but where I don’t think our own fanbase is giving ourselves enough credit is that these guys absolutely can go up against anyone in the country. Geno and crew were not rattled against a dominant LSU last year, they were not fazed by Clemson, and I will never forget sitting in the Joan watching the then Sophomore stave us off from the worst possible defeat. WVU may lose Saturday, but I am going in excited, not afraid. Well, and hungry too.
Around the Nation
There are three major showdowns this weekend involving six teams currently in the top 11 in the country. Obviously the #7 Mountaineers travel to the #9 Longhorns, but additionally #4 LSU heads to the Swamp to face #11 Gators and the #5 Bulldogs head to Columbia to face the #6 Gamecocks, setting up a phenomenal day to sit on the couch and indulge in our favorite game. Trust me, I am overly excited about attending the game in Austin, but I am also saddened that I won’t be able to watch these SEC showdowns. Obviously the rankings will be shuffled after this weekend, but we are to the point in the season where I feel comfortable in saying each of teams belong in the top 15 at a minimum. Saturday will show us whether these are top 5 worthy squads. Going with my gut, I’m taking the Eers, Uga, and the Gators. Odd thing is that I feel the most comfortable with the Gators as the lowest ranked squad taking on the highest ranked team of the set. Unlike last year’s team that raged through the regular season, LSU has looked weak against a sub-par Auburn team and struggled against Towson this past weekend. As soon as I doubt them though, I am sure Miles will summon his miracle mojo and feast on swamp grass.
For all the hate I bestowed on the Big XII, how about the ACC being 2-4 vs the Big East? Tech is 0-2, which makes me smile.
Back to the Big 10, I think that OSU is the front runner as the best team, but being ineligible of making the CCG, it certainly sets us up for Pac 12 South type scenario where UCLA made the game with a losing record. I wouldn’t write off Nebraska yet and you certainly have to give Northwestern some love. It would be fun watching the Wildcats win the league.
BTW, a real classy move by Buckeyes here.
As I am finishing this rubbish article, I am watching the prep shows for the presidential debate and they have these non-decided voters in a room to get a pulse on normal Joe’s response. I cannot help but think of how great of television this would be if they had two open kegs in the room. They should have open beer pong tournaments and have to vote someone off Survivor style as the debate goes on. Last people standing decide the election.
If you haven’t seen this from Saturday, it is pretty awesome video of Country Roads.
See Y’all in Texas,