Musings Of A Mountain Man: September 8, 2011 - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Musings Of A Mountain Man: September 8, 2011

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CONVENTIONAL WISDOM has it that a football team tends to improve the most between its first and second game.
Applying this premise to the Marshall game, we conclude:
     **THAT WVU'S PASSING GAME will be tough to stop this season under the guidance of new head coach Dana Holgorsen.
     Despite appearances that the Mountaineers were a bit out of synch early against Marshall and didn't hit full stride during the weather-shortened game, WVU still put up 34 points in three quarters against a solid Thundering Herd defense.
     WVU quarterback Geno Smith often bought enough time by scrambling to allow a variety of receivers to shake loose throughout the game, most notably on several important third-down plays.
     The thought here is that as WVU's receiving corps becomes more adept at implementing Holgorsen's offense and finding open seams in the opponent's secondary, Smith has the arm and the field vision to efficiently operate the quick-strike pass offense.
     **THAT WVU'S RUNNING GAME needs a quick tune up on the offensive line and in the backfield if the Mountaineers are to entertain notions of a BCS run this season.
     Marshall has an above-average defense, but if it can hold WVU to just 42 yards rushing, we have to wonder what will happen at Maryland in game three and at home against LSU in game four if the ground attack does not get better -- and soon.
     To move the ball against the defenses of Maryland and LSU, WVU will have to at least make them respect its ability to run the ball.
     If not -- and this would be especially true against LSU -- then Smith and the Mountaineer offensive line would be subject to a withering pass rush.
     Beating a top-five team is tough enough without being one-dimensional on offense.
     Holgorsen said this week that the offensive line must block better than it did against Marshall for WVU to run the ball effectively, and therefore become more two-dimensional and more difficult to defend.
     **THAT THE DEFENSE SHOWED PROMISE against Marshall, giving signs that defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and his veteran staff may have assembled a capable unit this season to follow the 2010 defense, which was one of the best in WVU football history.
     WVU held the Thundering Herd pretty much in check on offense, holding Marshall to only two field goals on drives deep into Mountaineer territory.
     The lone Marshall touchdown was on an 87-yard first-quarter punt return.
     Time will tell, but could it be that WVU's defense will be a handful again this year?
     That would be nice, now wouldn't it?
     More Notes:

     HATS OFF to Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick, who showed some elan and grace on ESPN when explaining why he and WVU counterpart Oliver Luck agreed to call the game Sunday night after the second storm delay with WVU comfortably ahead.
     You're right, Mike, it is all about the student-athletes.
     And you thought we never said anything nice about Marshall.
     DESPITE SOME suggestions to the contrary, we don't think the Marshall brass was all that gung-ho about continuing the game at that point. WVU had taken a 34-13 lead and the Thundering Herd didn't exactly look like it was in stampede mode.
     We suggest that with the fourth quarter still left to play, there was a better chance a fading Marshall team would wind up on the south end of a northbound 40-something-to-13 score if the game was finished than there was a chance of a Herd comeback.
     It was a win and not-lose-as-bad situation for Hamrick and he made the best of it.
     WE WERE TRYING TO AVOID PASSING ALONG CONFERENCE realignment rumblings, but as we write this, rumors are swirling that Southeastern Conference officials are trying to decide between offering WVU or Missouri a spot as the 14th SEC member, following a vote accepting Texas A&M as the 13th member.
     We don't know how we feel about this if it is true, because we don't know what other possibilities are at WVU's disposal.
     We do suspect that if the SEC is serious about offering membership to the Mountaineers, other possibilities will be examined.
     These likely would include options that entail remaining in the Big East, perhaps by trying to entice schools from other conferences to join it.
     We assume that interest in WVU from the Atlantic Coast Conference would be gauged one last time and if there was genuine interest, we also assume that WVU would want the ACC to make a definite and quick offering -- in public and in writing.
     If that was not forthcoming, it would be hard for WVU to turn down an SEC offer.
     DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but we think this Geno Smith guy has some potential at quarterback.
     LOOKING AHEAD TO SATURDAY, we know the Mountaineers can't stop the steamrolling Spartans from Norfolk State.
We just hope they can contain them.
     TO NOTE THE IRONY THAT WVU AND MICHIGAN both had to cut short their opening games on Labor Day weekend, we call for the NCAA to require that Rich Rodriguez sit out the fourth quarter of his first CBS college football TV broadcast.
     WHILE ON THE SUBJECT OF LABOR DAY AND TV, did it bother anyone else that ESPN showed a number of clips featuring outstanding plays made over the Labor Day weekend, but somehow missed including Tavon Austin's game-changing 100-plus-yard kickoff return against Marshall on Sunday?
     For that matter, why was the 87-yard punt return for a touchdown by Marshall's Andrew Booker not included? Both were great plays.
     IS IT JUST US, OR DO MARYLAND'S new uniforms look like something you would see on jockeys at Baltimore's Pimlico Downs?
     Are they serious?
     We have seen better outfits in a Cirque du Soleil performance.
     CONGRATULATIONS GO OUT TO Charleston native, WVU graduate and Mountaineer sports fan Dr. Allen Weiner, who has been selected by WVU's Eberly College of Communication to receive its Alumni Recognition Award for 2011.
     It is quite an honor that we proudly mention here because we know Allen, but apparently not well enough to know until Sunday that he has his doctorate.
     We found out that he chooses not to reveal the doctor title much because when he does, people presume that he is a medical doctor and start pumping him for free health advice.

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