Friday Feedback

April 18, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which is Logan Moore’s world and I’m just typing in it. This was a week for quarterbacks and walk-ons, so of course a walk-on quarterback captured our attention. Those aren’t like topics, sort of like apples and piano as opposed to apples and oranges, but they have one thing in common, at least around here.

Things are about to change.

West Virginia is going to trot a quarterback out onto the field Aug. 30, and if we’re lucky, we’ll know who a few days ahead of time.

And the NCAA is changing, or is being made to change, and if we’re lucky, the Have-Nots won’t kill this latest adopted legislation with the override. And that can still happen.

Two really interesting things came out of all the calls and conversations I had this week. One was the almost uniform opinion that this may be spiked by the override … because, you know, there’s precedence. (There’d be a side effect attached to that because the Haves would be even more wound up about this disparity between the top and the bottom than ever before. But that’s a story for another day.)

The other interesting thing? It seems there’s movement to no longer refer to the five big conferences as the Power Five. “I think ‘Higher Visibility’ is the talking point now,” a person told me. Tremendous.

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, there’s a place for creativity.

Dann said:

Hey, did anyone else get a kick out of Dana’s new wardrobe? I think it goes well with the recent additions of people with WVU connections to the staff.
Perhaps there is something to that “school spirit” thing after all, and maybe coach is beginning to see the wisdom of it.

Dann

I didn’t get a ton of email or Tweets or blog comments about state of the union stuff after the spring game. I got some. And most of the some were in praise of Dana’s apparel. And that is that.

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Are we ready for the new arms race?

April 17, 2014 by Mike Casazza

We hadn’t talked about this yet because I wasn’t ready to, but Tuesday saw the NCAA adopt a handful of well-being rules for its student-athletes. The highest profile belonged to the one granting unlimited meals and snacks to all players — those on scholarship and those who walk on to a team.

It’s a tectonic shift for the same body that infamously billed three Oklahoma football players $11.49 for consuming extra pasta at a graduation banquet.

With time passed now and some of the information, um, digested, I spent parts of yesterday talking to people I know who work at different places in different aspects with different sports. There’s a lot left to be decided and maybe even deciphered still — and that’s if the thing survives the initial override and is approved next week.

What seems clear, at least preliminarily, is this is a game-changer. Literally. It’s great for the nutrition, the sustenance and the development of student-athletes. But it’s also going to become a big part of how a university sells itself to prospective student-athletes.

We know about the ordnance and the ordinances of recruiting, but on the shore today, it seems like this is the next wave in the great arms race.

“I think right now our early discussions are mostly about ‘What does this mean?’” Hammond said. “Is it three meals a day and a late-night snack? Is it having a breakfast and a dinner and a deli bar? What does this mean? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered as we get further into this.

“Certainly down the road I can see there being a recruiting element to it. If School A is doing something and School B is doing something else, what ends up being the most attractive?”

I don’t think I can stress strongly enough how momentous the inclusion of walk-ons is here. Fortunately, I have help. Here’s a real email from a real mom of a real walk-on at a real university.

Mike,

Thanks for writing about this much needed change.  As the parent of a walk on at [a school], it has been very frustrating dealing with the food issue.  [My son] has the largest meal plan [the school] offers but he rarely gets to use it in season. He goes to  practice before dining hall opens, does not normally have time in day because he carries 18 hours then to practice. When practice is over, others eat at meal table but walk ons head out without eating.  Once to dorm, all dining halls are closed. My son has means to buy food but not time to find healthy food after practice.  He was only eating one meal per day due to time constraints and sheer exhaustion when he first walked on.  Because of this he lost 10 lbs in first month.  He has bought plenty of meals for his friends and we never complain but this change is great for the health of all.  We asked to pay extra or if his meal plan could be used at training table like at other schools and answer was no.  It has been very frustrating but as walk ons they try not to create too many waves out of fear of being cut.

Scoop & Score meets the Matrix

April 17, 2014 by Mike Casazza

(Podcast: Tada!)

We’re live again right here at 9 a.m. with a few things to discuss in just one hour. We’ll discuss the adopted NCAA legislation allowing for free food for student-athletes and the inevitable reaction. We’ll put a bow on spring football at WVU and ask and answer some key questions. The highlight, though, is a visit from Dave Bartoo of the indispensable CFBMatrix.com. So many questions about the past, present and future, but so little time.

Randy Mazey needed one, maybe found one

April 16, 2014 by Mike Casazza

West Virginia’s baseball team ended a seven-game losing streak in the snow and cold temperature Tuesday night behind a gritty performance form Ross Vance — a sophomore who’d been used a bunch out of the bullpen this season and who had never made a start in his career.

All he did was shut done a decent Ohio State team and strike out 14 in a 145-pitch complete game. Randy Mazey needed that, in so many ways.

Mid-week games are oftentimes auditions, and Mazey has needed a spark for his rotation. He’s also needed to save a bullpen that has burned the team and that has been burned through far too often this season.

Vance took care of both birds, making sure the bullpen was fully rested before the weekend series against Oklahoma and also inserting himself into the starting rotation. Mazey said after the game that No. 1 starter Harrison Musgrave, No. 3 starter John Means and Vance would start against the Sooners.

That means Sean Carley, who’d been solid as the No. 2 starter, will go to the bullpen. As the closer, Mazey said. This is awesome because here’s Sean Carley …

… and here’s Kenny Powers.

Tricky Tony Gibson

April 16, 2014 by Mike Casazza

We talked only very briefly online …

and in print about this little wrinkle Tony Gibson was ready to iron out in Saturday’s spring game. It’s really not too exotic, but it is effective and there is a purpose for the presence. And Gibson did indeed use it in the scrimmage, though with an added twist. He went 11 up, zero down. Because Twitter happened!

(Probably not, but that’s pretty funny. I simply typed in “Tony Gibson” in my Tweet and didn’t know it would auto-fill with his Twitter handle because I guess Gibby follows me. That in turn sent him a ton of notifications every time the thing was retweeted or commented on that afternoon, and I feel bad about that nuisance he did not need. I should probably know to be extra careful on Twitter now, huh?)

We talked a lot about the defense in the spring, though there were plenty of plots to follow on the field and on the sidelines. At the end, it seems the defense is trending the right way and will follow the lead of what might be a pretty good secondary.

Hits keep coming for Mike Carey

April 15, 2014 by Mike Casazza

In a superlative season full of firsts, West Virginia’s women’s basketball coach can now say this special season also produced the highest WNBA draft pick in school history. Asya Bussie was picked No. 15 overall (in the second round) by the Minnesota Lynx.

They won the 2013 and 2011 titles, by the way, and might be favored to win again after adding a two-time honorable mention All-American.

“I can’t even put into words how excited and blessed I am,” Bussie said. “I was nervous all day, I woke up nervous, and I’m glad to know where I’m going. I’m excited to be playing with Minnesota with some great players like Monica Wright, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus. It’s a great team.”
The Lynx used their second pick of four chances to get Bussie on their roster. The Randallstown, Md., native is WVU’s highest WNBA Draft pick in program history. The previous highest drafted player from the WVU women’s basketball team was All-American point guard Yolanda Paige who went in the second round as the 16th overall pick of the 2005 draft. All-American Olayinka Sanni went as the No. 18 pick of the second round in the 2008 WNBA Draft, while Kate Bulger was chosen No. 38 overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft.
“It’s shocking to me that I’m the highest pick in program history,” Bussie explained. “That is a great honor and it goes with the theme of this past year– just to make program history.”

Say hello to our new friend

April 15, 2014 by Mike Casazza

(Original title: “Say hello to our little friend.” Because this is about a reserve punter from southern West Virginia. But he’s 6-2 and 215. And at WVU, punters are not little. So, yeah, scratch that. But we had to do something on this kid because Houstin Syvertson has had our attention for eight months now.)

No spring football season is without its stories or without its players who are able to get just a small opportunity and make a big splash with it. For 2014 at WVU, meet Huey the Punter, the former walk-on third-string punter who is now a reserve linebacker and who got lit up by some running backs on one play and then leveled Skyler Howard a series later.

Do we expect great things our of HTP? Probably not, but he gave us a great moment in the spring game.

Speaking of Dustin Garrison …

April 15, 2014 by Mike Casazza

If not for Wendell Smallwood, isn’t Garrison the best running back from the spring? If there is no No. 4, did No. 29 have the best spring for a skill position player? I might say yes, but only because of the two times I saw him and the one time a proxy relayed tales of Garrison’s performance in Charleston.

What we can agree on is that, not entirely unlike Logan Moore, most people probably didn’t see this coming.

There was Smallwood surging and Dreamius Smith returning and Rushel Shell debuting and, you know, finite snaps available. Again, not unlike quarterback. Throw in prodigal Andrew Buie and mix it all with the memories of Garrison jogging into the middle of the line two years ago and in street clothes most of last season and, well, it did not bode well.

Yet there he is. He’s not the starter but he’s not just another guy. (Not unlike the situation at quarterback. OK, I’ll stop that now. I trust you see the point.) JaJuan Seider said Garrison did everything he needed to do in the spring, which is pretty high praise from that guy.

Seider, as we know, has to manage a lot of players and he has to make room for another over the summer. He’s purposefully hard on his players and it can be hard to draw a deep compliment out of him. That’s his style, and it works, and that’s important because part of creating eventual separation includes creating initial balance. He’ll have his hands full this season.

Anyhow, back to Garrison: How has it happened? Physically, he’s fine. It would seem he’s also mentally reassured, and for two reasons.

1) Dana Holgorsen brought up the topic of a medical redshirt last season.

2) In doing so, Holgorsen told Garrison he shouldn’t have played in 2012 and should have taken a medical redshirt as he recovered from the ACL he tore days before the Orange Bowl.

That’s all useful. The first reminded Garrison he was not forgotten and that WVU did value his future. The second served as affirmation that the disappointment of the 2012 season was more about the knee than the skills, and that in a deeper backfield, he wouldn’t have been forced into action.

But life’s weird. Had he redshirted that season, he wouldn’t have been able to take one last season. And perhaps more  importantly, had he redshirted in 2012, he wouldn’t have played and learned to run differently, and almost out of necessity. Without that, he probably isn’t running as hard inside as he is now.

“I pushed my body to the limits, and it showed on the field,” he said. “I wasn’t as agile or as athletic as I felt like I should have been, but it helped me get prepared mentally for this. It helped me run a lot harder, like I do now, just going through that process being 60 percent 75 percent, and still trying to grind out three yards. I learned a lot throughout that season. I learned a lot about myself.”

Takes one to know one

April 14, 2014 by Mike Casazza

You could ask a coach or even the player himself how and what Andrew Buie did for himself in the spring at WVU, his first taste of football since he walked away from the team last summer, and you could probably accurately anticipate the responses. Buie did all right Saturday and he played a bit of inside receiver, but he’s also probably trailing Rushel Shell, Dreamius Smith, Wendell Smallwood and Dustin Garrison — and you wonder how much of Buie’s activity Saturday was due to Smith’s absence from the game.

Or you could go to a person who knows Buie quite well, to say nothing of adverse conditions and obstacles to overcome to make an impression on offense.

 

Who won? Everyone!

April 14, 2014 by Mike Casazza

People keep saying that was Dana Holgorsen’s fourth spring game, which is technically true, but it was his third as the head coach. What it was for certain was the first time the offense beat the defense since the 2011 spring game offensive coordinator has been the head coach.

And, boy, you can’t help but get the idea Isaiah Bruce didn’t like playing outside linebacker last season.