Pigskin Punditry No. 4: Ahoy, Mateys

David SingletonCorrespondent ISeptember 5, 2008


I’ve agonized over this column for the past four days.

Some weeks it is easier to come up with a topic for this space than others.

This week is one of those other weeks.

Let’s face it, folks: There are not a lot of good games being played this week.

I know, I know: East Carolina hosting West Virginia should be intriguing.  A lot of points could be scored in Reno as Texas Tech travels to the Biggest Little City in the World to play the University of Nevada. Miami (FL) and the Gators renew a dormant rivalry.

But for the most part this week’s slate makes me go “eh.”

In fact, I am actually writing this piece from a hotel room in Anaheim, Calif., instead from the comfort of my place in Las Vegas.

That’s right. The Pigskin Pundit is not going to be watching games this weekend. Instead, he will be cavorting with Mickey and Friends.

What can I say? Your first son only turns 1 once, right?

But being on the road will not stop me from making a couple of guesses at this week’s action.

First off is the aforementioned trip by Mike Leach’s band of Pirates to Reno to take on the Wolf Pack. The Air Raid versus the Pistol. Mike Leach versus Hall of Famer Chris Ault (in his third stint as head coach).

Reno has been one of the more quietly consistent teams in the WAC since Ault returned to the sidelines from the athletic director’s office, including gaining a split of the WAC title a couple of seasons ago.

Ault’s innovative offense, the Pistol, is a pseudo-shotgun look, but is actually quite effective at running the football.

Ault also has Colin Kapernick under center, who only threw three interceptions all of last season. That’s pretty good.

Leach brings in two Heisman candidates in wide receiver Michael Crabtree and quarterback Graham Harrell. A lot of accolades and kudos have been thrown their way during the offseason, and deservedly so.

However, most eyes this game should be focused on the Texas Tech defense. If Tech is going to take that next step in the South Division of the Big 12, the defense will be the difference maker.

Can defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil’s crew slow down the Wolf Pack running attack and get more touches for Harrell, Crabtree, and Co.?

It will be a bit difficult, but I say that they do. Texas Tech wins, 49-24.

The other game to focus on this week will be West Virginia hitting the road for coach Bill Stewart’s second big test in his three games as head coach of the Mountaineers (Oklahoma being the other big game).

The Mountaineers head south to take on the East Carolina University Pirates, who made a definite statement that they are a potential BCS buster with their thrilling upset victory over Virginia Tech last week.

The 27-22 victory was keyed by a blocked punt in the waning minutes of the game. ECU quarterback Patrick Pinckney was deadly efficient last week, missing only four passes the entire game.

In his first game under new offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen, Patrick White had the best day he’s ever had throwing the football. This game should be closer than we would expect for the first three quarters, but I see West Virginia pulling it out late, 34-30.

Now, if you need to find me later today, you know where to look: on Pirates of the Caribbean, because I have pirates on the brain this week.