You’ll Never Talk Alone: S3E11

November 20, 2014 by Brad McElhinny

Good morning and welcome back after the open week. We’ll be taking all your questions about WVU sports and answering many of them when the weekly chat begins at 11 a.m. Get started now, if you’d like. The queue is open.

Live Blog You’ll Never Talk Alone: S3E11

Wednesday Walkthrough: Kansas State

November 19, 2014 by Mike Casazza

For real, the quarterback stats are sort of mind-blowing. I could have spent more time talking about the Kansas State offense, and in particular Jake Waters, but I’d already written plenty about him.

The Wildcats will spread out their offensive lineman to create creases in the middle, and Waters waits for blockers to block, but they’ll tighten up the offensive line to give running plays a chance to get outside. They line up in power sets and spread sets, but they can run or pass out of both without giving away any clues. Even when the defense is onto something, the play can change. Waters is skilled and selling a run to pull defenders toward him and then throwing a pass to a receiver in open space.

“It’s built into the play where he makes the decision,” Gibson said. “A lot of people do it off the zone read scheme where the tailback’s involved and the quarterback pulls it out and throws a quick bubble (screen). But this is all him.

“They run the quarterback power, the quarterback zone, the quarterback iso and they all have pass options off it, which means we have to get another guy in the box to stop the quarterback run. But then he can catch you in what you’re doing coverage-wise and you’ve got to cover that up. He does it as well as anybody I’ve ever seen do it.”

Behold the 2015 football schedule

November 19, 2014 by Mike Casazza

There’s not much WVU can do about it, and ultimately it might not matter much, but today I’d wager to say the Mountaineers aren’t going to like the 2015 slate.

They open Sept. 5 at home against Georgia Southern. That’s no treat. It’s a dangerous game without many rewards. The Eagles are very good on offense and are loaded with players who will be back next season, though they have five seniors who play on the offensive line. If you’re not familiar with Georgia Southern, understand getting ready for that in the opener is about the total opposite of getting ready of Alabama.

It’s like opening with Navy, except that Georgia Southern uses more unorthodox formations to run Willie Fritz’s personalized triple option. And when that game’s over, that’s the last WVU will see of that offense for the entire season. It’s better than catching it in the middle of the season or with one week to prepare in the non-conference part of the schedule, but there are countless other was you’d rather spend a summer. It’s a wonder teams want to schedule the Eagles.

A week later, WVU plays host to Liberty. While Georgia Southern, which beat Florida last season, is new to the FBS this season after many years as a FCS powerhouse, Liberty is a blossoming FCS program under the guidance of Turner Gill. The Flames are 7-4 and return most of their offense next season, but their defense will be hit hard by graduation. Still, it’s not a punk program.

WVU then has the third week off, and this is where things get weird.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bill Snyder’s creed

November 19, 2014 by Mike Casazza

This is a real thing, and for a while I didn’t know that. Bill Snyder references his intrinsic values and the goals he has for his players all the time, and he does it in a way that makes you think he’s talking about points he likes to make or advice he likes to give his players. That’s what I thought before WVU joined the Big 12. You can tell it’s serious and it matters, but you don’t automatically think it’s this. 

But there it is, and it’s in everything Kansas State does and everything opponents say about the Wildcats and their coach.

“It’s amazing. He’s the most respected guy in our profession, bar none. He does it the right way. It’s developing a culture of good family values. Program guys work hard and develop depth. It means a lot to him. They do the right things, and play the right way. They don’t beat themselves down. I can go on and on.”

No need, D. We’ve got you on this one.

The 25314 said:

I think these stats show the difference in discipline/coaching at WVU vs. Kansas State.

WVU is 12th in yards per game offense and 35th in points per game. WVU is 57th in yards allowed per game defense and 62nd in points per game.

K St. is 57th in yards per game offense and 20th in points per game. K St. is 30th in yards allowed per game defense and 21st in points per game.

K State plays above their level. WVU plays below.

The ghosts of Kansas State

November 18, 2014 by Mike Casazza

I love you, Doug! gave me an idea today to go back to look forward. WVU’s two losses to Kansas State since joining the Big 12 have been uniquely disturbing. The 2012 game was a demolition when a surging team caught a struggling team at the right/wrong time. Last season’s game was a thorough illustration that the Mountaineers were an ordinary and troubled outfit that couldn’t overcome itself, never mind a team having growing pains of its own.

I think WVU can show off a better version of itself Thursday, which means what I’m about to show you is or can be constructive context.

WVU’s roster was an unequivocal mess in 2012. It’s startling to look at now, but it’s also telling that Kansas State and Collin Klein came in determined to throw all over the Mountaineers. Snarky texts followed because the game was so bad there was no G&B. I remember thinking _&B would have been awkward.

Last year’s game was more competitive, but there was a bad omen before the game in which the mascot tackles a fake WVU fan on the field in a pregame ritual. It went horribly and the kid had a real seizure and was rushed to the hospital. Clint Trickett would get a concussion in the game and tell no one and struggle throughout, which led to a Paul Millard cameo. Snarky texts followed, but so, too, did a G&B that’s a pretty good primer for this mid-week game.

Dana Holgorsen: Kansas State Week

November 17, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Some more insight into what’s been missing from the offense lately, which is noteworthy because “WVU has a good offense!” isn’t news to anyone, least of all defenses. Yet the past three games have seen the numbers trend downward.

The Mountaineers play host to No. 12 Kansas State at 7 p.m. (Fox Sports 1) Thursday at Mountaineer Field. WVU (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) has seen its share of dignified defenses this season, but up until their loss to TCU two weeks ago, the WIldcats (8-2, 6-1) were leading the Big 12 in scoring defense and total defense. They now rank third in both, but by thin margins.

This is important for WVU because its powerful offense has dimmed as the passing offense has faltered. Trickett averaged 9.2 yards per attempt against Baylor, his second-best total of the season. It’s dropped each of the past three games: 7.9, 6.2 and 5.1.

There are explanations for the trend and for the worst averages of the season coming in each of the past two games. The first, Holgorsen said, is zone coverage, something each opponent has used with some assortment of success to keep WVU’s receivers from getting open down the field.

WVU has 43 pass plays covering 20 or more yards this season, but just six in the past three games. Trickett averages 11.69 yards per completion, but he’s been below that the past three games and had a season-low 6.89 yards against Texas.

White set a school record with 16 receptions against Texas, but finished with 132 yards and actually averaged fewer yards per reception than he did the previous two games, when he caught just six passes for 55 yards.

“People play zone coverage to be able to take away the deep ball,” Holgorsen said. “They put a lot of guys in coverage. That’s why it was disappointing not to be able to run the ball better than we did (against Texas), because we had favorable numbers. We knew we were going to have that against TCU. Kansas State is going to be the same way. They’re going to give us favorable numbers in the box, and they’re going to play off coverage.”

Programming note: Wednesday Walkthrough on Wednesday, You’ll Never Walk Alone on Thursday. I have no idea what we’ll do tomorrow.

WVU 83, Lafayette 56

November 17, 2014 by Mike Casazza

My first impression Sunday was, “It’s going to be a long year at Robert Morris.” But if you step back and look at two games and the things that did and did not overlap, you do begin to get a better understanding of this WVU men’s basketball team.

Read the rest of this entry »

WVU v. Lafayette: Patriot Act! I love it!

November 16, 2014 by Mike Casazza

Welcome back inside the Coliseum for this afternoon’s tune-up for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. West Virginia is playing its second game in 48 hours, which is nice preparation for next week’s tournament, when the Mountaineers will play Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Bob Huggins can also move into 15th place on the all-time Division I wins list by beating Lafayette. Huggins tied John Chaney with career win No. 741. He’s never played Lafayette, though, and the Leopards are 2-0 all-time in the Coliseum. Lafayette feels good today, though, because it destroyed Robert Morris Friday. Destroyed. The Leopards led by 40 and won by 27.

Lafayette was picked fourth in the preseason Patriot League poll and returns five starters who scored between 10.8 and 16.4 points per game last season. It’s a big and experienced team and has some ball-handlers, so you’d think the Leopards should be able to handle the pressure better than Monmouth.

WVU is again without Brandon Watkins and BillyDee but will also go without Elijah Macon. He’s not with the team today because his mother is very ill.

Let’s look inside.


WVU 64, Monmouth 54

November 15, 2014 by Mike Casazza

This is going to take a while, for certain, but Bob Huggins sounds like a guy who believes his team will get better once its players get to log some games together. Friday night was not easy, but it wasn’t a loss, and neither of those is bad for this team. Perhaps that explains why the Mountaineers were somewhat content with the come-from-behind win against the team picked to finish sixth in the preseason MAAC poll.

“Tonight was great for us,” WVU point guard Juwan Staten said. “This wasn’t a game we were expecting to be as hard as it was, but it’s good to get as many hard games as you can out of the way. Even though this game was harder than it was supposed to be, a lot of our players grew. When you have a lot of new players, you’re going to have growth every game.”

Staten, the Big 12’s preseason player of the year, and Devin Williams, who had as bizarre a game as imaginable, scored the team’s final 17 points. The defense forced turnovers throughout and held the Hawks to one basket in the final 7:36 to pull away.

Staten scored 10 of his game-high 20 points in the final 4:47, starting with two free throws that put the Mountaineers ahead for good 49-48 after they trailed from the 2:52 mark of the first half onward.

“This is early in the season, and we’ve been bragging on this team all year,” Staten said. “You can’t come out and lose a game early like that. Me being the captain and having a lot of experience kind of being put in that situation before, I felt it was my job to carry the team through it.”

WVU v. Monmouth: The season-opening battle

November 14, 2014 by Mike Casazza

You are looking live at the surprisingly intimidating logo for the Monmouth Hawks. This opponent tonight isn’t to be taken so lightly, either. They look kind of young with two sophomores and a freshman starting with an eligible transfer, but they’ve got some seasoning.

Any maybe “some” isn’t the right words.

Monmouth has its top six scorers, 89 percent of the scoring and 82 percent of the minutes back from last season, and Bob Huggins said yesterday he believes this is the season fourth-year coach King Rice has been building toward.

Deon Jones, who averaged 15 points as a sophomore last season, and Andrew Nicholas, who averaged 14 points as a junior last season, are 6-foot-6 wings. Former Providence forward Bruce Kofane is eligible this season. Max Dileo made just about half his 3-pointers off the bench last season. They’re going to play 10 or so guys tonight because they can.

From top to bottom, it’s a pretty good test for the Mountaineers to start this season, and WVU has complications to deal with, too. BillyDee Williams caught an elbow in practice that fractured an orbital bone and will keep him out indefinitely. Brandon Watkins is sick and will miss the game as well.

I haven’t seen WVU do anything live yet this season, so if you’ll indulge me, most of my commentary will be first impression stuff we can look back at and laugh about later.

Find me in the post…