West Virginia Football 2009: Mid-Term Report Card
Mid-terms in engineering school at West Virginia were not a day at the beach. First, the classes were impossible, with subjects like advanced compressible fluid dynamics and intermediate heat transfer. And, whatever possessed me to sign up with the most sadistic professors who taught them is beyond reason.
The tests were like finals, except there were usually three tests a day over only two days. My brain didn't work for a week after that ordeal.
Everyone should experience mid-terms. With that in mind, here are my mid-term grades for the West Virginia University football Mountaineers.
Bill Stewart and his crew of adults had a solid C before Syracuse as the fourth quarter F they received during the Auburn game pulled them down.
Outstanding coaching efforts turned in against The Orange and The Herd were 100 percent curve-wreckers, especially last week's 4th and 10 call in the third that led to the go-ahead touchdown.
The coaches are ready for the ever-increasingly difficult Big East schedule.
Passing Game: B
Quarterback and receiver play are outstanding, especially Jarrett Brown to Jock Sanders all over the field and JB to Alric Arnett with the big ball. However, the grade is pulled down a letter by the spate of interceptions and fumbles after receptions.
I don't foresee too much of a dropoff with Geno Smith leading the show. He's talented and hungry.
That being said, the Mountaineers will have to figure out how to keep the ball in their possession before they play at Raymond James and the Nippert snakepit.
Running Game: A
The runs and scores of Noel Devine and Ryan Clarke, along with the end around by Jock Sanders and the creative blitz-busters of Jarrett Brown, win ballgames for West Virginia.
Behind the manhandling offensive line, the running game is the base of the offensive philosophy. Why the coaches abandoned it against Auburn is another subject for another time. Fact is, the running game is good enough to run the table.
Run Defense: A
Despite spending too much time with their backs against the wall due to poorly-placed turnovers, the West Virginia run D has fought valiantly.
When you consider that (a) 24 of Auburn's 41 points came as a result of Mountaineers mishandling the ball, then (b) the front seven held the nation's leading rusher to 82 yards against Marshall, one cannot ask for much more.
Pass Defense: B
I'm relatively satisfied with West Virginia's pass defense. Auburn, of course, exposed WVU's soft corners and Marshall probably picked up too many yards for a team of its quality.
But, the Mountaineers blitz like banshees as the safeties hit abusively. The coaches have enough confidence in the pass coverage to most of the time send six, making the opposing quarterback wish he were back at school studying English literature.
Kicking Game: B-
When a foot hits the ball, things are way too exciting during West Virginia games. Scott Kozlowski's punting has been nothing short of magnificent, but the kick coverage is still allowing big returns and WVU punt returners are muffing too many.
An ill-timed special teams turnover can ruin a lot of hard work by the defense. The Mountaineers have to get that back in line.
I have found that even during major victories in big games, the average West Virginia fan will throughout the history of modern college football turn on the coaches, spitting venom.
From the For Sale signs in Bobby Bowden's lawn to the red-faced rants directed at Frank Cignetti to the "Nehlen Must Go!" airplane to Rich's morality clause and all the way through Luther Stewart, Mountaineers just don't like their coaches.
Let's do better than that, okay?
It's hard to argue with a 5-1 team, unless it's undefeated.
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