Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which begins the second half of the 10-game season tomorrow. Not a typo. This is essentially a 10-game schedule for the Mountaineers now.
They were once 5-0 and ranked No. 5. They have five games left in the regular season to salvage things that once seemed destined for something so good. No one can do anything about the previous two games to make them go away, but they can be dismissed or forgotten, and that’s all totally dependent on what happens the rest of the way here.
The second open week came at a curious and perhaps completely beneficial time for the Mountaineers. They needed to heal some injuries and some soreness and they needed a classroom experience to figure out what the hell had happened and how it could all be fixed.
I’m sure they think they have everything debugged and they happen to follow the best team they’ve seen in Kansas State with a beatable, battered TCU team. If WVU hits tomorrow and wins and restores confidence, the boulder has been pushed to the top of the hill. There are still obstacles and opponents who won’t let the Mountaineers simply roll, but the Mountaineers will have rebuilt a good chunk of the belief that’s been robbed the past two games.
It’s my opinion Dana Holgorsen is probably a pretty good manager in these situations. Small sample, I know, but how he adjusted within the course of the schedule last season, how he re-adjusted before the bowl, how he and everyone with him, be they players or coaches, seemed able to build barriers to the outside world and all the daggers it threw in their direction, was actually pretty impressive last year.
This is a defining time, right?
Now, there are differences. There were some elements at play last year that tend to unite a team that cannot be manufactured and they are not present now — and that’s obviously not an entirely bad thing. But this has also been a more humbling experience and it’s extra confounding that it’s happened on the immediate heels of such great success this season, which only reinforced the success of late last season.
WVU’s largest problem last season was that is was not yet very good at what it was trying to accomplish on offense. Can’t say that now … and again, that’s not a bad thing.
But it is different and it has to be more difficult to accept and overcome. It’s easy to get set in certain ways when things are going as good as they once were for WVU, which then makes it harder to get out of those ways. Last season, the Mountaineers hadn’t done any great things and Holgorsen could always point at times and players from his past and the Mountaineers really had no choice but to nod their heads and realize it had not yet happened to them, but that it still could.
Bill Stewart was pretty good at this crisis stage, and the best and most successful coaches excel and flex their muscles here. We’ve laughed about Remember November, but Stewart really did follow through on that — and he probably should have had a marquee win at Cincinnati to his name. And in 2010, he went 4-0 to finish the season after it seemed lost and after learning he was losing his job. I’m not trying to compare one with the other, but there is precedent here, and precedent Dana has contributed to with his run last season, to at least believe in during a trying time.
Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, represent yourself properly.
Jeff in Akron said:
So, is it safe to say the game between WVU and TCU is now the “That Q Word Bowl”. I can see both coaches telling their players. “If you smack them in the mouth early, they’ll fold.” Ironically, one of the coaches may actually be correct, here’s to hoping that coach drinks Red Bull.
Yes. Done. The Q Word Bowl awaits…
The 25314 said:
WVU hasn’t had a home football game on Halloween weekend since 2003. That is not acceptable.
This is true. So is this: There was a part-timer at the Dominion Post at that time and on the Monday after the game Hertz asked to speak with him. The fella thought he was in trouble, though Hertz wanted to speak to him for a separate reason. The fella could no longer take it and confessed. He grabbed the front page of Sunday’s paper and showed Hertz the A-1 art. It was a crowd shot of the football game, including someone in a jack-o-lantern mask. The guy in the mast was said fella. He thought he was in trouble, even though there was no way Hertz, or anyone else, would have been able to identify him since, you know, he was in a costume.
I can’t forget that Snyder’s K-State gorged on the likes of North Texas and Kate’s Knitting Academy for many years but I can’t deny that he’s an excellent coach.
I was quite impressed with the discipline K-State displayed in all aspects of the game, from their Spartans-at-Thermopylae entrances and exits to the ‘valet’ (student manager) Snyder had shadowing him at all times, always one step behind no matter how much the coach paced the sideline and in whatever direction. A relic of the days when a student manager had to wrangle headphone cables, perhaps, and Snyder doesn’t like change. He is reputed to still wear and have a hoard of Nike coaching shoes that haven’t been manufactured in over a decade.
Indeed, all of it. Snyder also eats once a day at the end of the day and never with the team. And he likes Taco Bell. It sends me spinning. All these other myths and rumors are presented as just that, but people swear they’re true. I’m inclined to believe them, but mostly because I want to. What struck me about Kansas State before that game was this attitude that the team would not be dragged down to WVU’s level or dragged into any of WVU’s activities, but also that the Wildcats just refused to step out of the straight line they’ve walked in with Snyder. I wrote about it in the game post, but when the Wildcats were on the field 90 minutes or so before the game in their warmups and then WVU arrived via Mountaineer Mantrip, the Wildcats calmly retreated. When Kansas State populated the midfield area shortly before kickoff and a player and Geno Smith started yapping, WVU rallied to the scene and started bouncing up and down and Kansas State turned and looked and approached slightly and then again backed away and went back to its business. No deviation from the identity throughout the day.
I love you, Doug! said:
Speaking of Bama, who doesn’t think we’re going to get creamed next year? It will be like that 1994 Nebraska kick-off game. And this time, we won’t even have a good punter.
That’s 2014 … but I’ll leave the question out there for everyone.
Perhaps he was talking about playing Alabama in a bowl game.
Oh. Well, that wouldn’t be bad. Not sure I can deal with a month of hype for a game and then an offseason of hype for a game against the same team and the Nicktator.
I love you, Doug! said:
Sorry. My midseason form is the same as the Mountaineers’.
Hope the open week treated you well.
Against BU, Geno had 4-7 seconds to let long routes develop. Since UT, he’s had 2-3.
OK, but do you still just do away with a rather important part of your offense? The deep pass has to come back or teams will really squeeze the short stuff.
I miss #TeamGoLong too. A legit question Mike poses……I think some of it is surely better defenses we are facing.
But everyone knew these defenses were better. How has it vanished? WVU’s offense is most culpable.
Lee in Dayton said:
I suspect the burning of Devonte Robinson’s redshirt against K-State was an attempt to use his speed to bring back the deep ball. They tried, too, late in the game with Millard at QB, and IMO it would’ve been a TD if not for a well-timed pass interference by the K-State cornerback – Devonte had him beat.
J.D. Woods has really leveled off and WVU gets nothing from McCartney and Nehlen. Dana’s been really critical of receivers not making plays and you can safely assume Stedman and Tavon are exempt. Some guys have run really slow or lackadaisical routes and Dana sought to fix that. So, yes, what you say is indeed true — and Dana spelled that out by saying the younger guys weren’t ready before, but are now because the guys who were better before are not now.
I’m not buying in this week no matter how good the press conferences go or how favorable the injury reports – which don’t exist, but you get me – are or even the fact that WVU is favored – FAVORED! – by seven points. I’ll take TCU and I’ll give you 21 points.
For what it’s worth, the Big 12 scores have been very consistent this year. There aren’t a lot of Team A beat Team B who beat Team C who beat Team A. Everyone is essentially falling in line, which puts the teams in this order:
Another insight that this weekend gave me . . . it amazes me that – other than Kansas State – none of the Big 12 teams seem to value a defense or a running game at all. As long as that holds true, none of the Big 12 teams will be serious national championship contenders. For a conference based in Texas, this seems shocking.
Mackstrodamus! I’d add Oklahoma to the “cares about running and defense” minority. I even think the Sooners have a better defense. Kansas State is probably the most opportune.
oklahoma mountaineer said:
Difference here between your young and my young……..
TCU – total defense – 23
WVU – total defense – 114
TCU – 3rd down conversion defense – 6
WVU – 3rd down conversion defense – 117
TCU – pass defense – 63
WVU – pass defense – 120 (yes that’s dead last)
The hardest games of their Big 12 schedule remain – K State and OU with a game against the Longhorns in between.
Best thing is that they have trouble with what we do best…..and that’s a good thing in a shootout.
So it’s even, yes? TCU is doing it with spare parts on defense now. It sort of has a thin ice feeling, though the Horned Frogs may not be alone there Saturday.
Will be curious to see if Mike post about todays DH Press Conference. He seems little more snippy this week than last. Got on Hickman pretty good.
It was different. He was light and conversational and analytical last week and stern and pointed and dismissive this week. But he’s consistent in this: It’s not the schemes, It’s not the coaching. I think he’s tired of having to repeat that, but I’m also not sure he was always being asked about that. He’s adding things between the lines, and the part about the continuity on TCU’s staff and how it’s helped the defense spoke loudly to me.
oklahoma mountaineer said:
Grumpy, I agree with your sentiment…….I’m thinking there are three things going on…..
1) DH reads or has someone read articles to him and he doesn’t like criticism.
2) DH is seriously considering or open to listening to other schools at the end of the season so he’s not concerned what reporters think.
3) DH does not understand/think that his relationship with the media had any bearing on his job or how people will see him in it.
Could be a combination of 1, 2, or all 3. I seriously don’t think he had a clue with how to deal with the media when he came — google up the pressers on youtube. He doesn’t have a good track record of staying in one place once his stock began to rise. He had no ties to this part of the country and I’d not be surprised to see Tech or TX open up……..
I’l offer a head nod to No. 1, but Nos. 2 and 3 are probably a bit of a reach, though certainly fair to discuss. I can’t see obvious signs that he’s mentally packed his bags, but I don’t think he particularly cares what reporters, or anyone outside the Puskar Center walls, thinks about him and how he’s working. Along those lines, while I happen to think he can be good with the media and can understand the respective roles, I think he’s as good to them as they are to him — and see No. 1 for further explanation. But above all else, it’s been the same questions, in some form, for weeks and that’s exasperated by the open week. I also think he can’t rightly say some of the things that are true and accurate explanations without, um, consequences. And remember, he’s supposed to be responding to questions in this environment, but there’s always an agenda. There’s limited time and I’d imagine he was trying to unload some of the things he wanted to say as soon as he could, hence why I think he was offering answers to questions that were not necessarily about the questions.
What’s the reason for not pursuing a medical redshirt for Alston? Is he needed that much and the coaches would take him for a couple games the rest of the season at the expense of next year? Are the options at RB going to be better next season and Alston not needed? Has the “big back” era of Holgs’ offense run it’s course? Just seems odd……
I’m curious if this is an option now. Seriously, Holgorsen didn’t know it was possible last week, so it only then, when the media told him it was an option, became an option. Maybe they circled back and revisited it. People were so bold as to talk about Alston as a NFL player before, and maybe Alston wants that fifth year … and remember, his freshman year was wasted by the former staff, much like McCartney’s was. But for now, let’s figure he’s fit to play and offer some help the next six games. That’s the only reason needed, really. It’s also not automatic that he’d get the hardship waiver if he applied. This is a thigh bruise. It required no surgery. The NCAA evaluates these things individually.
That’s optimistic of Roberts and I like that. Problem is sometimes those guys become seniors who have not become better than they were when they were freshmen. Hence some of the problems the secondary is dealing with now.
Maybe the silliest and most dangerous generality in college sports is the automatic approval of returning starters or experienced players. Simply put, sometimes they weren’t good because they aren’t good and they didn’t and/or won’t get a lot better. This is especially true in college. You get to the professional level because you’re very good and you’ve improved to become very good and there’s a reasonable expectation to see the same development when you’re getting paid and when you’re at that elite level. Can’t treat college the same because there are just so many more opportunities to get a spot. They’re not earned quite as convincingly as they are in the pros. In a WVU sense, Brodrick Jenkins took Pat Miller’s job last season. They were starters this season because there weren’t any other early options. WVU is still playing its five offensive linemen 90 percent of the snaps because there aren’t other options. Are they better than they were or are they just better than the alternatives? It differs case to case, place to place.
Pat and Broderick are examples of guys who never blossomed. You don’t have to wear your ballcap backwards to know they aren’t Big 12 material.
That is why I can’t understand why 7 and 41 didn’t get more meaningful minutes earlier in the year.
I like Roberts but I am hearing some double-talk here…….he want to develop youngsters but doesn’t want to give them playing time until the fanbase is having an aneurysm.
Eh, I don’t think Jenkins is so bad. Can’t disagree on the use of Nana and Rumph, though I don’t sense double talk. I really don’t think he wanted to play them.
Down South said:
I think of Brian King getting punked by Santana Moss when he was a freshman. He turned out okay. Anyone think our corners would be this bad if we had Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller coming off the edge?
The defensive line is a problem, absolutely. Kansas State ran a double move and Collin Klein overthrew the receiver. Kansas State came back to the huddle, ran the identical play and it hit. The pocket was clean on both plays. Notice that
Kevin Keith Tandy became a really good player when Irvin and Miller arrived and thrived?
Speaking of Corners, Mike any truth to this?
I see your link and raise you another: http://www.wvusports.com/profile.cfm?id=102637&sport=football - I’ve been told he’s really good. Now, what that means …
Well on most plays against KSU Geno was completely ignoring one side of the field anyway so it might not affect him that much.
I don’t have confidence in anything this team does after the last two games. I thought Geno & co. could score on anyone. Now I’m afraid they’ll get shut out. If they don’t start fast it will get ugly early again. That will remain true for every game this team plays.
If we can’t compete with TCU, the two Oklahoma games will be record setting beat downs.
On the other hand, if this team responds I coul see us still having a really good year overall.
Receivers can’t go half-speed or give up on plays against the defense. They won’t be giving away clues, but they just won’t be able to beat the scheme. I assure you, TCU’s problem is not the scheme. The line has to protect, the receivers have to beat man coverage or exploit space in a zone and the quarterback has to be sharp and quick and correct. No sweat.
pknocker 40 said:
Yeah, this sounds a bit more deceptive than WVU’s “seven verts” coverage scheme…
Problems solved. Easy win, Saturday.
Enjoy the weekend!