West Virginia Football: We've Been Here Before and It Turned Out Okay

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIINovember 2, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 27:  Head coach Bill Stewart of the West Virginia Mountaineers looks at the scoreboard during their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Bank of America Stadium on December 27, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This article is not a game recap, but it bears repeating these facts:

West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy was rolled and smoked twice by one singular Bulls wideout, Carlton Mitchell.

The Mountaineers couldn't muster enough offensive tackles and tight ends to keep South Florida speed rushers George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul out of the WVU backfield. 

And, elusive Bulls quarterback BJ Daniels, alone, was responsible for more yards than his opponent gained.

It is generally accepted that a coach's main responsibility is to put his players in position to win the game.

Well, even if Bill Stewart and his crew would have stood on the field Friday night with each Mountaineer and showed them exactly what to do, it still wouldn't have been done.

Is the problem a) lack of proper preparation or b) poor play or c) both?

Sounds like the answer is b) but I say it is mostly a).

South Florida did not show West Virginia any surprises.  Selvie and Pierre-Paul, and even and especially BJ Daniels, were very much known quantities.  There are yards and yards of video on these guys.

Mountaineer coaches saw it all, the good (Florida State), the bad (Cincinnati), and the ugly (Pittsburgh) and still could not figure out where the Bulls were coming from and going to.

This abysmal performance on that eve of All Hallow's Eve makes me reexamine the victories over Marshall and Connecticut, games in which the Mountaineers looked strong, but...

The Herd walked into the lockers at half with a 7-3 lead, then helped West Virginia out in the second half by self-destructing.

Connecticut played valiantly and with tremendous courage in Morgantown, but West Virginia let them back in the game late by failing to cover the dreaded crossing route.

If the WVU staff wants to improve its preparation, maybe Bill Stewart should talk with South Florida defensive coordinator Joe Tresey.  Joe watched his yards and yards of video only to figure out that, and I paraphrase, if you stop West Virginia's big plays, you stop West Virginia.

That sounds like the "if you out tackle 'em, if you out hit 'em, if you out-hustle 'em" analogy.  Gee, perhaps this could be a simple game after all.

I've talked to enough Mountaineer fans this weekend to realize that the coach's seat is heating up on Stew.  One good friend said the team needs a bus driver, not a tour guide. That's pretty funny, but I personally say give Bill Stewart time.  Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez didn't get it done in two years.  They did rather well for the state while they were in power.

Of course, the propensity of the typical West Virginia fan is to talk real trash about the current football coach.  A Mountaineer coach's lowest points are the first loss after his biggest victory and the loss right before that big victory.

Granted, this South Florida game had the feeling of bad defeats of the recent past.  Examples: 2008 East Carolina, 2007 South Florida, 2007 Pittsburgh, 2006 Louisville, 2006 South Florida, 2005 Virginia Tech, 2002 and 2003 Maryland, 2003 Cincinnati.

Now, take it way back: 1981 Pittsburgh, 1982 Pittsburgh, 1982 Florida State, 1984 Virginia, 1988 Notre Dame, 1993 Florida, just about every time WVU played Penn State, ad nauseum.

Okay, think of the good times.

You can't do that right now.

Don't extrapolate the South Florida game to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.  From the game before No. 3 Boston College in 1984 through the game before No. 3 Oklahoma in 2008, I recognize this.

We've been here before.