Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which really wishes the cell phone was alive last night. You’d laugh at the volume of people who I ran into or who found me and were trying to help me find a solution or who expressed they were excited to read the Kansas State edition. So I’m going to get as much of you into this edition, and I bet it’s going to help me out a bunch because I’m having a hard time sorting out some things here.
A lot of people are throwing the ugly numbers out there because they’re ugly numbers and they hook emotional people and trigger emotional responses at an emotional time. The November record, the record since Texas in 2012, the record against ranked teams, the volume of special teams disasters, the sacks, the turnovers, the penalties, so on and so forth, I’m trying to find an explanation for it all. The sacks, penalties and turnovers are, to me, who and what this team is after 11 games … and maybe after 49 games. But the fumble on the goal line, the stupid punt return fumble and the two interceptions are completely in line with what’s happened of late or all season. I didn’t think the Mountaineers were reckless on offense (I didn’t say special teams) before last night. But Clint Trickett’s interceptions and Wendell Smallwood’s fumbles are spring practice mistakes.
What has a hold of me are these late-season slides. I don’t like presentation without context, and surely there’s a reason Dana Holgorsen is 2-9 in November in the Big 12, why he has three straight seasons with three-game losing streaks. Discipline? Depth? Coaching? Indifference? I would argue yes.
I think in 2012, WVU wasn’t as good as 5-0 and the fifth-best team in the country, but was probably better than 7-6. Still, that team was weak and couldn’t make the best of a bad situation, so why would we expect it to make the best of a bad situation? Last season, 4-8 made sense with the roster and the quarterback situation. This season? Well, sorry, but 6-2 may have felt about right, but it still left you wondering if they were, you know, good. I felt like maybe the Mountaineers weren’t that good if I had to wonder. Yet the losses are by 10, 12, 1 and 6 points to top-12 teams, but also by 17 after a shameful first-half no-show at Texas. I guess 6-5 feels about right, too, right now, but not four weeks and three games ago.
But there’s the point: In three straight seasons, WVU hasn’t found what it needed to steer its season back onto the road and prove its great, good or merely even better. And that’s where the focus goes now: Why is this the case?
As for the schedule with another wonky week, let’s keep an eye on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. There may be TFGD potential if the Mountaineers make the championship game. I’ll keep you updated there, but it’d fill a spot on Monday. I’d like to drop the G&B in its Tuesday slot, and that thing might come in plastic wrap. We’ll do the chat Wednesday and we’ll skip the F Double because I’ll be on the way to Ames — and you’re out of your mind if you think that won’t be hard for the Mountaineers. If the Cyclones win tomorrow (at home against Texas Tech), they’ll have momentum. If they lose, they may very well be playing for their coach’s job. They might be regardless of what happens against the Red Raiders. Whatever the scenario, do you feel good about WVU bringing the right baggage to Jack Trice?
Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, pay attention.
Hey Mike, after the game when you’re writing about how kansas State doesn’t make any mistakes, how about you mention the huge calls by the officials that have gone in their favor.
Went out of my way not to write that because, man, that team was beatable — and that was my lede today. The postgame refrain was “Can’t make mistakes like that against K-State!” which is silly and serves as shelter from the real questions and answers. WVU had the opportunity to play bad and beat an alarmingly unsound KSU team and simply couldn’t. Or wouldn’t. I’m not sure which is right. That explanation afterward didn’t cut it for me. As for the officiating, I’m not sure I follow. The reversal on White’s circus catch was the right call. I thought the offensive pass interference was iffy, but I can understand the call. I thought the defensive pass interference against K.J. Dillon was a poor call. I was surprised they didn’t review the time Waters was hit from behind, I think by Brandon Golson, and it was quickly ruled an incomplete pass. What other ones are we looking at?
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