Al’s Weekly College Football Preview: Week 2


Sep 1, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Geno Smith (12) reacts after a touchdown in the first quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

Again followers, Al could not post as he is out of town, so I have passed his weekly column along to you:

Dear BFAs,

Saturday marked the beginning of a new era and the closing of another chapter.  At the conclusion of last year’s USF game, we bid adieu to our old Big East foes, giving up guaranteed yearly wins against teams like Rutgers (17 straight wins).

Saturday concluded another un-storied chapter as it appears that we are headed into another lull in the 12 game, 101 year “rivalry” with Marshall.  Despite Marshall AD, Mike Hamrick’s desires, unless WVU receives another juicy deal that results in the previous 7 game slate, where WVU enjoyed a 5-2 home and away series, it seems this series will be in the closet for some time.

The scoring margin in WVU’s 12-0 streak is quite impressive at 520-163, and the ante was upped once again in this weekend’s 69-34 romp.  There were a couple first halves that were dicey and we all remember the near disaster at The Joan a few years ago, but this series will be remembered for the desperate desire of MU to beat big brother with no avail, and the desperate desire of WVU to justify why the game shouldn’t be played.  As a non-native, I must say that it has been an interesting ride, but in the end, the flagship prevails, and we all move on.  Hopefully WVU can continue the offensive trend of the last two games and Marshall can pull out a solid season in CUSA.  Looks like their match up versus the Bobcats will be a marquee game this year.

Mountaineer Analysis

Is it possible to get complacent in 70 point outbursts?  Can you pick on anything from the offense this weekend?  Outside of the potential trap game that every team faces each year, it is hard to fathom that this offensive squad will struggle on any given Saturday, key injuries withstanding.  The stars all did their thing and the o-line lived up to the praise The Email bestowed on them last week.  The truly exciting part was that Buie and Alston blew up, rumbling downfield all day.  On top of that, JD Woods added 7 catches for 75 yards, offering another target demanding attention from opposing defenses.  Even running at 80% efficiency, this should remain one of the top 5 offenses in the country week in and week out, and much more complete than the best Slaton/White teams.  Can you imagine saying that, straight faced to yourself five years ago?

The defense on the other hand proposed issues and many unanswered questions.  Contrary to my negative remarks last week, the defensive line looked better than I expected and the secondary looked down right bad.  While I will give Rakeem Cato, Dobson, and MU’s offense some credit, there is no way we should have given up 500 plus yards.  If we do not improve, we will definitely be looking at shootouts all year long.  It is still early and we have two more warm ups in an FCS foe and a team that only scored 7 points against Bill and Mary this weekend which will hopefully give us time to grow, so it may be a bit premature to jump of the deep end, but how much more glaring would the 34 points be if we only scored a pedestrian 50 on offense?  The one point that is tough to gauge, is what effect will the increased amount of plays that the Def. will face due to our offensive nature have on our D?  We did face over 100 plays Saturday, which must be factored into an analysis, but it still causes pause for concern.

A short bit from Bruce Feldman on the Eers:

Some teams put up staggering numbers early because they’re whipping up FCS programs. Marshall has some legit athletes and talent, as did Clemson. Early Sunday morning, I asked Thundering Herd DC Chris Rippon how much better he thought WVU is from last year now that Smith and Co. have had a year to better hone their timing and understanding of Dana Holgorsen’s system?

"“Their O-line is very good,” he said. Keep in mind WVU got back standout OG Josh Jenkins, who had been the team’s top linemen but missed 2011 because of a knee injury. “They were excellent in the bowl game and played the same way [Saturday]. Geno is Geno: Confident. Knows defenses and gets them into the right play.”If Smith stays healthy, I’ll be stunned if he’s not a Heisman finalist. WVU and Oregon have become must-see TV for any football fan, college or pro.The not-so-good news for Holgorsen: his D allowed 545 yards, 413 yards through the air. But there is also time for the young WVU secondary to jell. Most of the better passers on their schedule play the Mountaineers in the second half of the season."

Bear in mind, that while Marshall may not equate to what we will see in the Big XII, they should be a contender in Conference USA and are a far better squad than the cream puffs that a lot of the big programs hosted this weekend posted similar or worse results.  Of the seven teams to score 60 or more this weekend, we were the only to do so against a Division 1-A squad.

Around the Country

Anyone else had the pleasure yet to watch ESPNU’s “The Experts”, featuring Mike Bellotti, Jay Walker, David Pollack, Joe Schad, Tom Luginbill and Danny Kannell?  If you are a fan of Wheres Waldo, turn into this show and try playing Wheres the Expert.  I think I could create a better panel of experts with Bobby Bonilla, Karen Stewart, Jay Jacobs, a cardboard cutout of Gary Coleman, Air Bud’s agent, and Howard Schnellenberger.  At least it would be more entertaining.

Looking Ahead

Links and other things

Interesting chart from the WSJ folks.  Interesting that we are that low after presumably a few of the sanctions from the RRod days, that were relatively insignificant.

Brett McMurhpy (espn) tweets, “Vegas already sets over/under for Nov. 10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State game at “infinity”” .  I chuckled.

Annnnnnd one of the best annual season opener articles.

Love Always,