Here are my observations on WVU's snowy victory of South Florida last Saturday night and my report of an unexpected treat after the game. (Better late than never.)
- First, let me get this out of the way: It felt so good to beat those Bulls of South Florida, after the way their punked WVU's past two seasons. There were several close calls in this game -- including a deja vu moment in which a Bull almost knocked the ball out of Pat White's hand while he was scrambling, like they did in 2006 and returned it for a touchdown -- but thankfully, the combination of WVU's strong defense and South Florida's self-destructive tendencies prevailed.
- For the first time I can remember this season, WVU marched crisply down the field on our first possession and scored a TD on a nifty play on which White rolled right and threw back left across the field to Tyler Urban for a 12-yard TD.
- Unfortunately, that was the last TD.
- Pat McAfee was the MVP: He was 2-for-3 on FGs on snowy turf and induced TWO running-into-the-kicker penalties.
- Noel Devine was benched for the first quarter but came on later to rush for 90 yards. Stewart said after the game Jock Sanders started because of "competition," that Stew had been unhappy with Devine's performance in the Pitt game so Jock beat him out during the week, and that may be partially true, but the real reason is that Devine went back to Florida for a funeral (how many people in this guy's life are going to die?) and came back a day late. He is not considering transferring, per a rumor, I have from a source who would know.
- The same source also deflated the rumor running around the stands Saturday night that Stewart will take administrative job after the season and give team to assistant head coach and recruiter Doc Holliday.
- WVU's defense was bend-but-don't- break, giving up a couple of long passes deep down the middle, but then shut that down. South Florida quarterback Matt Groethe was, as usual, his own worst enemy. Rooting for USF must make fans pull their hair out.
- Was glad to see Tito Gonzalez catch a pass on senior night.
- White had an okay day passing -- except for a couple of overthrows he was pretty much on-target, especially downfield, wearing gloves on both hands. Again, though, USF shut him down running again. I hope that green menace George Selvie goes to the NFL.
- WVU killed a couple of drives on penalties. On one, the Mountaineers got a great pass interference penalty that put them in good position in USF territory but then followed that with two holding calls. On another promising fourth-quarter drive, the center (not Mike Dent; still injured) snapped it at White's left ankle. He tried to pick it up and it squirted away for USF to recover.
- After the game, I was invited me to the locker room for the announcementthat the team is going to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. The locker room is plush, nicer than most homes I've been in, probably, with blond wood everywhere. Each player has his own locker with his name over top
Locker room observations:
- Devine and Jock Sanders are really, really short. Sanders was carrying a little boy and set him in his locker.
- Urban is a big, good-looking kid. Tall. Will Johnson was in uniform but did not play, as far as I could see. Apparently, he has had a "deep thigh bruise," which is why he hasn't been seen since the Villanova game, but we've come to not believe a world Coach Stewart says about injuries.
- When they announced WVU would play an ACC team at a 1 p.m. kickoff, one player in the back yelled, "F**k the ACC!" Then Pat McAfee, who was right in front of me, said, "1 p.m.! That means a 7 a.m. wake-up call!" Gonzalez led the team in a prayer. Didn't see White bc he was out doing his Cal Ripken victory lap. Dorrell Jalloh was very very happy that he's going to play in Charlotte, though I couldn't figure out until after the game when...
- ... in the post-game radio interview, he revealed that his Mom and uncle were trying to drive up to the game from North Carolina, where he's from, and called him yesterday afternoon from somewhere in W.Va. where the Interstate was ice-covered, they were sliding all over the place and the state troopers were saying it was going to get worse.
They asked Jalloh what he wanted them to do and he told them to turn around, knowing that meant they would miss his senior day. "But that meant I could call them after the game and tell them I love them, instead of God forbid something happen to them." When it was revealed WVU would play in Charlotte, Jalloh was thrilled because "there's no way they'll miss that game."
So there's a little heart-warmer for ya.
By the way, in the post-game interviews, Stewart told writers, "when they have some time on their hands," to check the stats of transition years and they'll see 8-4 is pretty good. "There's a method to my madness and you'll see it in a year or two," he said.
Indeed we will see.