WVU's Heartbreaking OT Loss in Colorado

Frank AhrensSenior Writer ISeptember 18, 2008

BOULDER, Colo.--I know they're just kids and I loathe to judge them too harshly, and I know they're professional coaches and trying as hard as they can, but there's just some vitriol I've got to get off my chest:

- Third-and-one-inch. If you can't convert third-and-one-inch, you don't deserve to win a football game. This posting could end right here, because this is really all you need to know about why WVU lost this game. But do keep reading, I'm just getting warmed up.

- This is what WVU hired offensive genius Jeff Mullen for? To convert three out of 13 third-down attempts? Three-of-13? During the second half, I was having Pitt flashbacks and certain Jeff Mullen had had a bag thrown over his head and been kidnapped and Calvin Magee was calling the plays again.

- So much for Pat McAfee being in "midseason form," as Coach Stewart said this week.

- Oh, Bradley Starks. Bradley, Bradley, Bradley. That was the game right there: 21-14.

- What has happened to this offensive line? This is the line intact that dominated Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Here's a sign of how much their skill has degraded since then: True freshman Josh Jenkins played much of the game on the line. Is he even 18 yet?

Okay. I feel better.

I have advice for WVU fans and here it is, as I will be following it: Leave your sentimentality behind. The whole "winning for real West Virginians" in the Fiesta Bowl was a swell story line. Hiring one of our own after one of our own betrayed us, also good. Proving the entire nation wrong, same thing. That was then. This is now.

At the same time, don't start hating. Don't start with the, "Typical WVU team. Choking in the clutch. Can't close the deal. We can never get over that hill. They've let us down."

WVU fans are passionate, but not the most loyal, sometimes. I don't know if it's West Virginia self-loathing (being a native, I can say that) or the putting of all our eggs in one basket, to prove to the nation that we can be good at something, even if we're 49th or 50th in everything else.

Leave that all behind. This is college football, not culture, heritage and identity.

So, my futher advice is this: Watch as this team develops through the season.

Did you notice that Colorado did not score in the second, third or fourth quarters? That Reed Williams' presence obviously gelled the defense?

Did you notice that Noel Devine rushed for 133 yards and Pat White was, as usual, his amazing self? If only he could block for himself, this team might be 2-1.

Clearly, this offensive line is in trouble. Despite the gaudy rushing numbers, the offense—and let us repeat this in case you missed it the first time—converted on three of 13 third-down attempts.

And either Mullen threw out his playbook or Stewart overrode him, which amounts to undercutting him, which is a problem.

It is no coincidence that White's second TD run came against a field spread out in reaction to White's previous 18-yard completion to Dorrell Jalloh. Was Alric Arnett even thrown at once?

So, if WVU fans can give up the idea of playing for a national championship -- last year was the shot, not this year—and can somehow establish some emotional distance, this team could be fascinating to watch.