West Virginia started the season with Coach Stewart saying "it's time for change". After the Mountaineers non-performance this past week in Tampa against the Bulls of South Florida, he is absolutely spot-on.
The changes needed continue to mount game after game.
Quarterback Jarrett Brown's season is finished in this reporters eyes. Since the hit he took in the Marshall contest, Jarrett has become ineffective and worst of all afraid to take a hit. He has become way too predictable. Roll left, roll right, no two or three step drops and pass, way to long to release the ball. The offensive line is to be commended on the amount of time he is getting after each snap. I really feel sorry for the Mountaineer receivers, can you imagine running a perfect route being wide open, look back only to see Brown hurrying a pass out of bounds, or tossing a 90 mile an hour heater 5 yards deep into the secondary. I really believe Brown has to see a receiver open before he will release the ball, you and I both know that only works in high school, occasionally, not with the big boys.
Oh, don't forget the numerous times this past Friday night he could have ran the ball for 5 to 10 yards but instead heave the ball downfield no where near an open receiver, remember the receivers had ran their route and been open about 10 seconds ago. Jarrett Brown possesses the skill and qualities of a fantastic sand lot quarterback. You know, the QB you played against in neighbor Phillips backyard. The one who received the snap, immediately ran left, then right, then tossed the ball with all his might down to the middle of the field, every play was a "hail Mary". In the huddle you were told go down 10 and out, or, do a 10 yard button-hook and take off, or the best of all, just take off I will hit you. I am not trying to make a joke of Jarrett Brown or Mountaineer Football, it is, has been, and will always be my number one past-time. I bleed the Mountaineer "Gold and Blue". But when I witness performances like this year and hear a Mountaineer head coach continually preach, "we are going to bring good ole smash mouth mountaineer football", it makes me sick to my stomach as much as the onset of the H1N1.
Coach "Stew" is "a good ole boy from West Virginia. You know one of the "Hardees Morning Coffee Clubbers". Way too nice to be a head coach at the Major College level. It's one thing to "know football" and a whole different ball game to step up to be a Major College head football coach. You've not only have to be a football genius, a play designer, but most importantly the team "psychiatrist". There are over 50 young athletes to keep happy and keep their heads on straight, every day and every game. The "Stew" approach is not working. I'm getting that same sinking feeling of "doom", just like those Frank Cignitti years.
I have seen enough of Coach "Stew" giving high fives and pats on the back for missed tackles, blown assignments, and flat out Junior Varsity play. Coach "Stew" needs to take a few tips on football team management 101 from this writers high school alma-mater football coach. I realize there are more than enough asst. coaches to share the blame, but, I stick to "the buck stops here approach".
So far this season I have not seen a glimpse of the "good ole West Virginia smash mouth Football" that "Stew" praises so much. West Virginia seems to have no game plan. No plan on offense. It's like plays are just called out of the blue or better yet there’s a chart numbered 1 thru 50 of offensive plays and West Virginia just goes down the line from 1 to 50, ignoring the game situation at hand.
Where did the Mountaineer "Fast Break" Offense attack go?, you know it's the one where bubble screens actually worked because the defense did not have time to get set each play. Or those quick slants to our tight end would pick up 15 yards a clip. (Do we even have a tight-end?). Yea, his name is Tyler Urban and he's damn good when he gets the ball. That lost offense I speak of is called the "two minute drill" and the Mountaineers made it famous by running it during different times throughout the game, sometimes, for quarters at a time.
6 minutes to go this past Friday night. The mountaineers and coaching staff showed no urgency at all as they were down by two possessions, (11 points). I know they have a two-minute drill as "Stew" during his after game "Excuse-Telethon" said that Sowers was injured Thursday night while practicing the "Two-minute" drill. But "Stew" didn't know Sowers was injured. Now that's a coach with a handle on his team, eeh!
I know many of you timed the plays late in the fourth quarter Friday night. I did and came up with quite a few over 30 seconds each, and WV had three timeouts left. "I hear there's a bonus at the end of the year for how many timeouts you leave on the plane after the game". "Stew should have a duffel bag full as he seems to have no concept of time. Have you seen him on the sidelines, with the "deer in the headlights look"? One picture is worth a thousand words or so they say.
Where in the world was Noel Devine in the 4th quarter Friday night. You know, he received that one shovel pass from Brown with two huge South Florida defenders about 3 yards in front and travelling towards him at warp speed. Do you think Noel had a few words to whisper in Jarrett's ear after that?. It seemed as always that Noel wanted the ball. He thrives for it and generally makes good things happen when he gets the ball with some regularity late in the game. WV had the ball 1st and 10 on the edge of the red-zone and after two straight penalties Brown went into Sand-Lot mode. Now here is an idea it was evident something was bothering Jarrod those first 3 plays during that drive, he couldn’t find open receivers, was waiting way to long to get rid of the ball. He just can't see them, I really believe that. What else could it be, Arnett was open time after time when his initial route was ran, but then during Brown's sandlot mode Arnet was covered like flies on a jar of jam. Jarrett has become so afraid to take a hit now (post-concussion), the whole offense suffers. It becomes a disorganized fiasco. How about a field goal, last I looked it was still part of Football and occasionally wins a game or two.
Friday night late in the 4th quarter would have been a good time for that plan B, a field goal. On 4th down after Browns first 3 disaster plays try the field goal, instead of the "Hail Jarrett" pass. It's possible you might make it and that sets up the on-side kick with 4 minutes to go. Remember, not so long ago 4 minutes was an eternity to the Mountaineer offense.
One thing I saw different in the play calling Friday was FB Clark getting the ball on first down occasionally. While I am happy to see WV finally start using a FB and ending the "oh boo who what will we do without Owen" era. Where did it come from, and why begin using it half way thru the season, and why in the world on first down? Oh, maybe that was one of Coach "Stews" trick plays he said they were going to occasionally use.
Now, I am not all doom and gloom. I have seen many bright spots on offense, the offensive line. This group of boys came into the season "green and untested" and have done a fantastic job in giving Jarrett Brown lots of time, opened up and cleared-out some real nice holes for Devine and the other Mountaineer runners to run thru. They have been one of the bright spots on the sputtering West Virginia Offense.
I said before season started that Devine would be good for two or three long gains per game but that Jock Saunders was the play-maker. Yes he loses the ball occasionally when trying to get extra yardage but his big plays at big times more than makes up for the few mistakes. I still stand by that statement. He reminds me alot of the Minnesota Vikings Percy Harvin, he can do anything, is everywhere, and continually makes clutch plays.
Defensively, the Mountaineers are playing as expected and about on par with their talent. WV is severely undersized at the corners and it is allowing the opposition to make big plays. Have you noticed how the tiny WV corners Tandy and Hogan always have their back to the QB and are playing catch-up? I believe they are out of position. Either would make a good strong safety or rover, they just don't have the size to match up to opposing teams 6-4 and 6-6 receivers.
The rest of the defense has played well, well enough to win. The only exception is discipline. This team lacks good ole Mountaineer Football discipline. Example: how many times have we made spectacular interceptions in which were momentum changers only to have the defensive player give the ball back via a fumble. Or, how many times have we fumbled the ball trying to get an extra yard when its not needed. That my friends, is just being undisciplined and goes around the circle to guess who, yep, that’s right Coach "Stew".
We all know the talk about Coach "Stews" "Special Teams" play. Did you see the punt from South Florida's 33 yard line Friday night, yep you heard me the 33 yard line. Evidently we are using all of our scholarships on kickers who can't even attempt or have a chance at a field goal from that distance. "Stew" had the audacity to say "we didn’t want to give them the ball only 67 yards from the end-zone. Umm, excuse me Stew, how many times after their kick returns have opposing teams started behind their own 33 yard line? You can probably count them on one hand. Oh yea, did I tell you "Stew" is the Special Teams coach.
As the title of this article states, it's time for a change. Jarrett Brown needs to feel a few splinters in his posterior at this point. Time to look at the future, and, give Red-Shirt Freshman Geno Smith some time behind center. I thought in the Marshall contest he played well coming in cold off the bench and helped the Mountaineers win that contest, he is the future of our gold and blue.
I only hope we can put together a few more wins this season so we can go play in a decent bowl. One should come at the hands of Louisville this Saturday. What has happened to the Cardinals? Some say coaching and I only pray that the Louisville programs demise doesn't change to gold and blue. But look at the similarities. Wait, I will leave that for another article, one in which I hope I never write. I don't know if Coach Stew ever reads the Bleacher Report, but if he does I challenge him to show me my errors in this article. Invite this writer to get an inside look at Coach Stew and his Coaching. I will gladly accept and if I'm wrong will be the first to put it in print. What ya say Bill? Show this writer who hails from a little town 30 miles south of Morgantown a town that lives and dies football, and we like to think we know a thing or two about the game. But instead of Bridgeport this writer is uttering those two words known only to Missouri. Show-Me!
However, the last 3 games of the season, at Cinn, Pitt, and at Rutgers will force the Mountaineers to be at the top of their game with no errors and a good solid game plan, a game plan that makes sense and doesn't look like it was drawn in the dirt in "Stews" back yard. Be Well, God Bless and don't forget the gold and blue this Saturday and "Let's goooo Mountaineers"