(8:43 p.m. update below)
I’m very scared today. When I arrived to my seat at press row this afternoon, I found a Manilla envelope addressed to me. I was stupid to open it and not have it scanned for Anthrax, but I survived. Inside is a photocopy of a six-page letter to Greg Hunter. The above is an excerpt and I doubt if the FBI could find rhyme or reason to the use of the highlighters.
It is an exhaustive and exhausted review and undressing of the football program and it pulls no punches when it comes to the defense and recruiting.
That said, I am partial to the idea the optimists invented the airplane and the pessimists invented the parachute. You can’t argue with that and you must wonder today if you will fly or if you will float.
And honestly, that’s not the best part. The best? I don’t want to say who it’s from, but it is from a Richard in Michigan.
Onto the live post. Follow me …
Short story short: WVU is a troubled football team right now. I don’t think there’s a lot to fix, but I think the things that need fixed are not easy to fix. Not with the schedule coming like it is.
The 94-yard touchdown was a busted coverage. Cecil Level, new to the safety position, said he needed to communicate with Ickey Banks, the cornerback, that Banks had Boyce.
Banks, it would seem, thought he could pass Boyce off to Level.
Not to bury Level, or Banks, but Banks has been going back and forth between safety and cornerback and played a lot of cornerback Saturday. Level is WVU’s … sixth cornerback. He started in place of Darwin Cook, who didn’t even play.
The defining moment of the game involved Banks and Level. That’s the state of WVU’s defense. It played far better today, but it is still susceptible to bad moments
The offense, which has said repeatedly for a few weeks now that there is no blueprint and that teams are not succeeding against WVU by doing similar things, has now backtracked.
Geno said TCU applied the “same formula” other teams have. He expressed frustration at the offenses’s inability to defeat what is essentially quarters coverage. The past three opponents have dropped back and just dared WVU to pass deep. It’s working.
Geno also said the running game is getting no respect from the defense and the defense has been able to succeed with one linebacker in the box.
This is a deviation from the past talking points.
There seems to be a divide about the perception of the special teams, though. I’ll try to get the video up soon, but I think he was speaking directly to someone when he said he’s seen a lot of unwarranted criticism of the special teams and that we in the media tend to miss the fact it’s not that bad.
Agree to disagree, I guess.
Also, Dana spoke to us for about seven minutes and answered a lot of the questions, though without a lot of words. He doesn’t have much patience left and though he’s done a lot to change and fix and improve things, it seems to me he knows he has a lot more to do.
Here’s the gamer. It’s … magic?
Guts win. Guts win.
Stedman’s second reception of the game might win it. Might.
NINE KICKS blocked in Ty’s career now. That said, Verrett flew in to block that.
Man, in the middle on third down and you go to the left hash for the field goal… eeehhh.
Well, that’s a great call, but Terance Garvin, whose name I haven’t thought of all day apart from a bad coverage in the first quarter, makes a great play.
I know this is contrarian, but I like having the ball first in overtime. I’m curious what the numbers say, but I like to dictate and I bet hardly any overtimes are settled on the first reception.
Risky business. Miss the field goal and leave TCU 13 seconds and in need of only about 30 yards…but we’re going to overtime. I believe I called that one an hour ago.
That would have been amazing. Pass interference isn’t called and the DB tips the ball just short of a defender. Geno then stares down Austin and Olabode timed his run perfectly to catch it and go to the house.
Good thing about that 11 second possession WVU had before TCU did the unthinkable is that WVU has 88 seconds to work with at the end.
Seriously, 94 yard touchdown pass. The only thing you couldn’t do is allow a 94-yard touchdown pass there.
And it is unspeakably quiet in the stadium.
Proofreading my story and pretty pleased with it. Then that happens. WVU, everybody. WVU.
Delay of game after a timeout isn’t easy to do. It’s harder to do it three times in a season. Makes this third down a little harder, but I’m passing it.
Defense and special teams.
That was the play WVU had been looking for. TCU stopped covering the receiver in the flat and only further jeopardized things by bringing a blitz there. Buie just couldn’t get to the ball in time to get a good grasp of it.
Not the best decision by Bokin on that third down. He might have been able to run for the yards he needed, but if he throws it a little bit less behind Dean, it’s a big enough gain to keep the drive going and really spook WVU.
Boykin scrambles for 15 yards. Second-down play was sharp.
Key third-and-10 here. I actually liked the first and second play calls there…
Oddest part of this game? WVU turning to the totally non existent run game.
Dangerous pass there. Geno’s arm doesn’t look great today.
Tied 24-24 with 12:01 remaining. This one just feels like overtime.
If I’m a TCU fan, I want to see that play earlier in that sequence.
They’re letting WVU put seven in the box and compact the field. Very questionable offense here.
All zone read here and TCU has to be a little wary of Boykins and some decisions he’s made, and just made, as it nears the end zone.
TCU surviving TCU here and looking a little dangerous.
Not exactly the best defense for a running quarterback on fourth-and-5 and the blitz gets bottled up and Boykin bounces outside for a first down.
Karl Joseph needs to separate the player from the ball — who am I kidding? He’s been great.
There was a man/zone play there. TCU with a key PBU on third down and HERE COMES THE PUNT TEAM!
That’s just awful. Three turnovers for TCU and they’re all costly. Runs on first and second down dictate a pass there and WVU looked like it was ready for that very play.
And TCU is running the ball…
TCU is 3-for-9 on third down with five straight misses. TCU has four penalties for 40 yards. TCU has been party to a double pass interference. TCU has four fumbles and two turnovers. TCU threatening to score to take the lead.
A play later, Boykin is pressured and the receiver breaks his route and goes deep. He gets a 26-yard reception and Boykin takes a shot to the face for a 15-yard penalty.
And it took TCU 39 minutes to take its shots against WVU. First results in a pass interference against both teams. TCU runs the same play the next snap … which shows you what TCU things of WVU’s pass defense.
To be fair, WVU’s defense has allowed 14 points — with a touchdown coming after an interception. Special teams are responsible for 13 points, but have also given away 13 points.
Defense and special teams…
Millard is asked to play-fake and pass and he’s leveled. Does help the pass-to-interception ratio, though.
Another abjectly bizarre pass decision by Geno. We’ve seen a few today, but he’s been accurate with his legs.
Good job by 53 tackling Buie. But Buie didn’t have the ball.
Credit TCU’s No. 47. Bitancurt had the ball, but Paul Dawson poked it out and that led to teh touchdown.
May not see a punt again.
… lights the place on fire.
… digs up the turf.
… tears down the goal posts.
#TeamGoForIt rushes the field.
Defense and special teams. That’s Dana’s brand of football.
Joseph having a really nice game so far.
Career-long field goal for Bitancurt. He’d only been 0-for-1 in his career from 50 yards or longer. He’s 1-for-2 today.
He’s up and moving and then goes to a chair at the training table. Those are dangerous hits. Millard is warming up.
And Bitancurt drills a 52-yard field goal. Thus ends the 2-for-10 run from 40 yards or more. The story is Geno right now.
Uh oh, Geno wanted off the field right away on that.
And we’re back … Joseph forced his second fumble and turns a big TCU run into a big opportunity for WVU, which hadn’t led at the half in Big 12 play. WVU had also turned the past four turnovers into zero points before the fumble Joseph forced on the punt turned into Alston’s first touchdown since Sept. 15
Not sure what to say about the finish except that it was frenetic. WVU dodged and invited disaster, but also leads 21-14.
Astounding management at the end of this half here. A run on second-and-10 loses three yards and sets Bitancurt up for a 50-yard field goal…
That fourth-down play was headed toward a dreadful conclusion. Instead it ends up as a first down and WVU shooting at the end zone. Crazy.
Luck and momentum are entirely on WVU’s side here.
Empty set seems to be working, by the way.
TCU will keep running the ball and keep dealing with the consequences.
Alston rumbles in on fourth down and the PAT makes it 21-14. WVU leads for the first time in 145 game minutes and 28 calendar days.
Maybe the highlight of Bitancurt’s punting career. Snap barely gets to him, but he sends it 46 yards and Dawson fumbled it. Nana recovers and sets up the first-and-goal…might WVU have the lead soon?
Slowly here, TCU has slowed and almost stopped covering the running back out of the backfield. Let’s see if WVU notices and sends the back up the rail.
Francis leveled Boykin — helmet under the throwing shoulder, non-throwing shoulder planted into the ground — and Boykin was slow and sore walking off the field.
Big, big drive here for WVU. It has momentum for the first time in a long, long, long time.
And Pat Miller doesn’t look like he’s OK. He’s moving gingerly.
Still not clear on TCU’s offensive plan, unless it’s “Wait for third down!”
Not the schemes! The hot potato isn’t supposed to work like that, but it worked. WVU blocked that play so poorly that it was actually a good set up for Austin’s cutback.
Second time in Eu’s career he’s thrown interceptions in successive games.
… I’ll stop.
Also, here’s a mid-stream adjustment for TCU: Your offensive line is young. You have a mixed bag at running back and you’re running at a competent run defense that can’t rush the passer and can’t cover receivers. Maybe pass a little more? Hell, give it a play-fake.
That was just surprisingly bad. Something had to have happened there.
Hey, throw the ball down the field.
WVU’s defense, decidedly not terrible today, has been at its best with its base personnel package.
Worth adding that WVU hasn’t had a lot of luck lately, but that touchdown play also comes on the same drive where a sack was wiped out by defensive holding — and out of the corner of my eye, that looked like an iffy call.
Good luck/bad luck there. Geno gets hit on the pass. It float into the end zone. A TCU cornerback is inside Woods and wants to catch it. The safety at least obscures the corner’s view and Woods makes the catch.
And that was a pass down the field.
Is Alston limping?
Hey! Geno runs when there’s nothing and gets eight yards on third-and-5. That was a dead play until he saw he had lots of room on the back end.
Not a great throw by Geno after a good fake, but Copeland has to catch that.
That was a really odd package on the punt block, but it nearly worked. Lots of receivers on the line to get a rush.
Geno stares down the receiver there and the safety has plenty of time to run up and defend the pass. That was easy.
Alston’s absence ends and he gains three, with an ovation.
Also, making note to myself here, but TCU is doing things with backs and tight ends to clear out the middle for receivers. It’s like they know WVU will take the bait to create bigger plays.
There’s a trainer with him and they’re holding his left arm. Don’t expect anyone to tell you anything more.
News?!?! Pat Miller is going to the locker room.
Say what you want about the scheme — and you will and you should — but WVU did a bunch of things and none of them worked. Have to get off the field and the Mountaineer’s can’t. Thirteen play drive and conversions on third-and-2, -11 and-7.
Play-action, slant is open. Bruce froze and the pass was there. First-and-goal.
Sheesh. WVU played tight coverage and Kyle Rose got home and hammered Boykin, who hung in and delivered for a completion and another first down.
Third-and-11. Rush three, drop eight and leave a big enough cushion for a 15-yard route. First down TCU.
WVU’s playing fat, which is good. It builds a rhythm and gets you feeling good. But the first down plays are again troublesome: Run for nine yards, dropped pass, run for a six yards, run for one yard.
TCU’s going to give you the short pass on third and long. Take it if you want. Haven’t seen one glance down the field yet.
And Feigt started at right tackle, not Kindler or Eger. My apologies. I was trying to get them together since no one else will.
And Thompson also started, not Travares.
And Alston, also listed as a starter, didn’t start.
Cleaning up here, Jenkins didn’t start, but nor did Nana or Rumph. It was Banks. No one tells us these things.
Not sure what to make of all that, but TCU gets stopped on third down and the crowd goes wild, the players go wild and Erik Slaughter goes wild.
And WVU hurries into a third-and-11 before Geno hits Tavon for a 4-yard gain. Punt! And the Dawson, who’s dangerous, fields a 29-yard punt (!) on a short hop.
Thompson and McCartney with drops already, but WVU is really trying to play fast here.
And Joe DeForest isn’t on the field. He’s in the booth today. Keith Patterson is on the field. This is a switch.
Well, now WVU is taking the ball.
WVU wins the toss and defers…
They announced no other depth chart notes, so assume Jenkins is not starting.
Ivan McCartney starting for WVU with Stedman Bailey likely limited as the backup.
I have to tell you, the gold on gray looks just awful.
For TCU, all MWC defensive end Stansly Maponga, who missed the past two games, is on today’s dress list. So is quarterback Trevone Boykin.
Scouts from the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to appear, as are reps from the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Houston … which I hear would be delighted to have WVU.
Looking like gray helmets, gold jerseys and gray pants today. Also, I haven’t seen any TCU players on the field yet and it’s 1:42 p.m.
Roster notes: Stedman Bailey, Shawne Alston, Brodrick Jenkins and Will Clarke are all on the dress list. The only omission of note is Dante Campbell, who has done nothing of significance since his touchdown catch against JMU, except starting against Texas Tech.
Alston is now listed as the starter at running back. Travares Copeland is again listed as the starter at one inside receiver position. Nick Kindler is again listed as the starter at right tackle in front of Pat Eger.
Nana Kyeremeh is listed as the starter at the cornerback spot where Jenkins usually starts. Rick Rumph is listed as the backup. Nana is Pat Miller’s backup at the other cornerback spot and Ickey Banks is Karl Joseph’s safety spot.
I imagine the fact that this was addressed to Greg Hunter, head of the Blue & Gold News, has perhaps tripped you up. IT really was addressed to Hunter, but a photocopy was sent to me.
And apparently I’m late to the party. Turns out the Dominion Post gets these from time to time — the first page, which I can’t show you because it has Richard in Michigan’s real name and address — make a highlighted point to mention he has not written to Hunter in several weeks.
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