Wednesday Walkthrough: Alabama

August 27, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Alabama is Alabama, right? And Alabama is kind of green. Good green, but still green.

ALABAMA HAS A DEPTH chart with 74 players on offense and defense. Thirty-nine are freshmen and sophomores. In a true two-deep, Alabama figures to have freshmen backing up at defensive end, cornerback, and left guard, plus a freshman — 6-foot-6, 320-pound Cam Robinson — starting at left tackle.

“I figured out he was the No. 1 player in the country and he was there all spring, so I don’t consider him a true freshman,” Holgorsen said.

According to rankings, the defensive end, Da’Shawn Hand, was No. 1 at his position. The cornerback, Tony Brown, was No. 4. The left guard, Ross Pierschbacher, was No. 8.

Dana Holgorsen: Alabama week

August 26, 2014 by Mike Casazza

There’s something in here that’s totally illogical. I’m curious if you can spot it.

Dana Holgorsen speaks at 1 p.m.

August 26, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Don’t watch it live. I’ll post the video here later.

Anyhow, I wrote about the head coach’s perceived growth and development for today’s newspaper.

“I think the way he sees the overall picture now is different,” Dawson said. “When a guy is an offensive guy his whole life — like he was and like I’ve been — typically your focus is on that side of the ball when you become the head coach. He looks at all three sides of the ball, and that probably makes his view of the offense a little bit different than what it was in the past.

“In the past, he was probably just worried about scoring points and playing as fast as he possibly could and he never took into account how that affected the other two phases of the game.”

I could have done more, and you know me: When I go deep, I go really deep. Yet for some reason, I didn’t get into the thing that intrigues and impresses me most.

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Insert baseball team name here

August 26, 2014 by Mike Casazza

So Granville, Morgantown, North Central West Virginia and/or West Virginia will indeed have a Class A – short season baseball team in June and 38 home games through September. The team will call the new ballpark at University Town Center its home and that ballpark — described in a press release as “yet-to-be-built” — will be completed in time for WVU’s season and all it’s non-conference and Big 12 games.

What’s truly neat and important to the people who get involved and invested in these things is the team will be in the Pittsburgh Pirates family, which a low has Class A team in Charleston and a Class AA team in Altoona. Pirates fans can track future stars from their beginnings and catch most of it within their region.

But here’s the biggest unresolved issue and the best part yet: The team doesn’t have a name, and that duty will belong to the public sooner rather than later.

“That’s going to be job one,” said Bob Rich, the chairman of Rich Products Corporation and the new team’s owner.

That top priority, though, will be belong to the people and not the brass. Rich said the team will have a naming contest and accept suggestions on Facebook ( and Twitter (@MorgantownBall) and by email (

“It gives us a good way to start our outreach efforts and to hear from the community about what kind of names they like,” Rich said. “As the owner of a club, you don’t want to just pick a name out of a hat. We want this team to hit the field running with a name people can feel proud of.”

Rich owns three teams and is in the habit of letting fans name their teams after one forgettable-if-not-so-memorable story from 1987.

“That,” Rich said, “was the last time I was ever going to try to name a baseball team.”

Season-opening depth chart

August 26, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Take this for what you will, assuming you’re likely going to spend more time on it than the coaches did and that you might attach much more permanence, too.

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Just a warning … 50-inch story time!

August 25, 2014 by Mike Casazza

We know Oklahoma and WVU are alarmingly alike on offense. We suspect they’re going to be structurally similar on defense.

We remember Oklahoma beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and we’re very aware the Mountaineers’ 2014 season begins in the Georgia Dome against the Crimson Tide.

What we wonder, though, is what the Sooners would tell WVU about the opponent, what Oklahoma says the Mountaineers should expect.

Wonder no more. I asked and the Sooners shared their thoughts. And, yeah, that’s not a story as much as it is a opus. Sue me.

Ishmael Banks out for three games

August 25, 2014 by Mike Casazza

WVU kinda sorta sorted out the Ishmael Banks conundrum. Amid reports of a season-long (and career-ending) suspension, Dana Holgorsen said his fifth-year senior cornerback was “reinstated” and is suspended for non-conference play. All Holgorsen would/could said was Banks was undone by “academic issues.”

It means no Banks for Alabama, Towson and Maryland, but that Banks can play in all nine Big 12 games. Holgorsen said Travis Bell or Terrell Chestnut will likely start against Alabama, but that both will play. He then said Jaylon Myers’ name and said he is “full go” as part of a deeper situation than the fourth-year coach has had with the Mountaineers.

Texts from Mock Alabama Game Day

August 25, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Well that was something, wasn’t it?

I have a feeling we’ll be saying that one way or another this time next week. And that will mean we’re underway with the regularly rotating blog features for the 2014 season. Technically, yes, we’ll get into the groove later this week, but the full cycle starts Monday. If you’re new here, or if you caught on during, say, basketball season and haven’t experienced a football season, allow me to explain.

The blog transforms from one thing into another for the football season. I’m not posting stories — unless they demand it — and we’re not getting deep into things we might give some depth to at other times. Honestly, it’s not for everyone. It’s nuanced. It takes some getting used to. It’s sort of like Space Mountain.

Yeah, I know there are a lot of sports out there, but if we’re being honest with one another, we’re here for one in the fall. That doesn’t mean I won’t turn the spotlight to volleyball or men’s soccer or that I won’t glow about Kadeisha Buchanan. That’ll happen, but not often and certainly not regularly.

We turn into a football blog during football season with occasional interruptions for the worthy diversions. Mostly, though, it’s going to look like this:

Monday: Texts From Game Day
Tuesday: The Good and the Bad
Wednesday: Weekly Walkthrough
Thursday: You’ll Never Talk Alone
Friday: Friday Feedback

Now, some extrapolation. I’m not sure next week will follow that format. Labor Day is notoriously slow on the blog, and I have a prior commitment I have to honor that day, as well. G&B takes time I probably won’t have Monday, so I might push TFGD to Tuesday and G&B to Wednesday and keep the walkthrough, the chat and the F Double in their spots.

Oh, and the F Double reminder: Since it takes all Friday to travel to a road game, I can only do those on Fridays of a home game or an open week, though sometimes that can change and you’ll be splendidly surprised.

So that’s that. And this … this Mock TFGD was great. Thanks for the idea and for the contributions. I can do all that stuff I mentioned above, but nothing that happens here is worth it without you all and the  wonders you’ll witness below.

Been having dreams that I’m a gangster, drinking Moet, holding texts. Making sure the cash came correct, then I stepped. My edits are in [brackets]. Except for one. 

9:14 am:
Tide Nation doesn’t seem all that up for the game. Here I am at the Georgia Dome almost 6 hours before game time, and there are only a couple of tailgate

s going. Come to think of it, there aren’t many WVU fans here either. Why are the security guys eyeballing me?

12:17 pm:
Wait, was it a noon mock kickoff?  What mock channel is it on?  #mtfgd

Having a garage sale in honor of TFGD. First customer: a meth head with no teeth named Peanut.

Just checked the statue of the Mountaineer outside the Mountainlair.  Glad to report that no one has dumped industrial-grade weedkiller on it yet.

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Friday Feedback

August 22, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which today asks for help. We’re warming up the engine so the blog can run optimally this season. We did the same last season and I felt like we had a solid and reliable rotation of features. I don’t think I’ll mess much with it, though I do intend to try to make more room for the smaller sports, as can. I don’t anticipate covering them, but there’s no reason I can’t devote a little bit of space, say, once a week.

Anyhow, we do this thing here and it’s pretty much the most amazing thing we do. It could be the most amazing thing anywhere, but we’re not entering best blog competitions. It’s called the Good and the Bad and most editions look a little like this.

I track the stats and not even TFGD is clicked or shared as much as G&B. And people seem to like it. Helps them see the game after the game and better understand what happened and sometimes anticipate what happens the next time. It’s cool like that.

But … but it can be a nuisance. I always try to watch the game a second time, but sometimes that’s just a terrible time. Mostly I soldier on and do it because I learn a lot from it, too, but … but it can be a nuisance.

And here’s where you come in.

I need to streamline this. Presently, I set up a flip cam, point it at the television and record the play I want to feature. Scout’s honor. When I’m done watching the game, I upload the videos to YouTube. Then I save and edit them. Then I do the blog. It’s not a brief process, and sometimes the videos are askew because, you know, it’s a flip cam on a bar stool.

I know there has to be a quicker way to do this and to feature better videos. But I don’t know where to look or what to do, so I’m begging you to help save G&B.

I’m looking for a quicker and cleaner way to do the G&B and I am open to all suggestions.

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, pick your battles.

tls62pa said:

So well put.

The words of Mike Calicchio, that is.

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Tony Gibson tries picking a lane

August 21, 2014 by Mike Casazza

The Alabama preparations have begun at WVU, but truth be told, they began long ago. Tony Gibson gave his defense something to work on every day during camp, but the defensive coordinator got started long before that, if only in his head.

He’s going to keep a lot of his thoughts to himself, and that’s understood, as well as countered on the other side of the field. But we agree on one simple premise: There’s a good bit of mystery involved with getting ready for the Crimson Tide based on what Gibson does and does not know.

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