Friday, September 30, 2011

From the Blue Lot

Each week, Chris and Dookiestyle will answer questions about the Mountaineers upcoming game…

How big are Geno’s onions, really?

Dookiestyle - I wanna say they are huge, based on last week’s record breaker. But I think we’ll really find out the answer to that question this weekend against Bowling Green. Geno had big numbers against LSU, but also had a few turnovers.

If Geno can light it up again this weekend and lead this team to a huge victory after such a high emotion loss, I think we can classify Geno’s juevos as extra large and hop on his back to a BCS Bowl Game appearance.

Its all about how he handles this weekend though.

Chris - I think the onions are rather large and impressive. Smith has shown he isn't afraid to hang the pocket, and also moves well to the outside. The guy has had impressive drives late in games, great arm strength, and true leadership ability.

Does he need to improve in the redzone? Yes, but his quip from Bruce Feldman's piece earlier this week on says it all. Geno Smith walks by and heads back to the offensive staff room. It's 1:30 a.m. ET. More film?"Yep," he says. "Have to."

The atmosphere at a 3:30 game against Bowling Green will be very, very different than the atmosphere for a night game against LSU. Are Mountaineer fans fair-weather fans?

Chris - Yes in our view, mainly because we want to be LSU or Ohio State, and sellout every single game. However, having 55,000 to 60,000 a game is nothing to be ashamed of. The bigger issue is the student section. When it empties at halftime, the entire atmosphere of Mountaineer Field changes.

The new policy that doesn't allow you to come back seems to have paid off. Keeping seats filled for four quarters not only helps the atmosphere, but also looks good on television. Looking good on ESPN, MASN, SNY or whatever the station may be is more important than one may think.

Dookiestyle - I don’t think they are any more fair weather than other schools. Big games, especially night games, bring more people, more out of towners and more booze to the game.

Smaller opponent...smaller crowds, less out of towners and less time to get wasted.
Also, as prices for things at WVU sporting events find less and less people from around the state that can come to every game. They’d much rather spend their money on Pitt, LSU, Marshall or another Big East game than to see Bowling Green.

Will WVU win the turnover battle?

Dookiestyle - I’m going with the law of averages here. They HAVE to at some point, right? This BG team is very young, and I have to believe our defense is going to be really on their game for the rest of the season. They basically got a full season’s experience last week.

I hate to overstate that, but we won’t play another team like LSU again this year, until we get to our BCS bowl. That will do wonders for both the offense and the defense. Time to rebound. Time to learn. Time to win the rest of our games.

Chris - Yes. At some point this team needs to force and recover a fumble. They haven't done it in four games, so you would have to think they are due. Same goes with pressure on the quarterback. Only one sack through four games is a disaster. The two can seemingly go hand-in-hand, so we'll see if that occurs.

It will also help if WVU can get up early on Bowling Green. This will force the Falcons to take risks down the field, which could play into the hands of the Mountaineers.

But, defensive leaders need to step up. Bruce Irvin, Julian Miller, and Keith Tandy have to start making plays for this young team.

WVU-Bowling Green Preview

West Virginia looks to get back on stride against a tough MAC team in Bowling Green. The Mountaineers continue to improve under new coach Dana Holgorsen, but how will they react off the first loss of the season? The Falcons are no pushover. Statistically, a very proven team already this year, Bowling Green will give everything they have at the Mountaineers. Will it be enough to hang with the high-flying West Virginia?


West Virginia: The unit continues to make big strides. Geno Smith and the boys ended up gaining more than 500 yards against LSU. The team was 3-for-3 in the redzone, and even ran the ball well against the Tigers. As good as the skilled positional players were, the offensive line was the real story. The boys up front kept Geno on his feet the entire game, and also push around the big boys from Baton Rouge a little bit. Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, and Ivan McCartney continue to create havoc for the secondary, and Tyler Urban may be the new go-to in the redzone. Dustin Garrison may have emerged as the number one running back after his performance last week. Tempo has improved as well. The biggest problem for this unit is the mistakes. The team has to hold onto the football, and just play cleaner.

Bowling Green: The balanced offense has had a lot of success early on. Matt Schilz is one of the more efficient quarterbacks in the nation, having already thrown 14 touchdowns. His top targets, Kamar Jorden and Eugene Cooper will be tough covers for the WVU corners. Anthon Samuel has nearly 500 yards on the ground already, with a very impressive 7.0 average per-carry. The Mountaineers better have learned how to tackle if they want to slow this offense down. The line is good, but has been suseptable to the sack this year, allowing 11 in four games. The Falcons are also nearly 50% on third downs. Efficiency is the word.


West Virginia: No pressure and no technique continue to haunt this unit. It's not a bad group at all. In fact, there's a lot of talent, including guys (Bruce Irvin, Julian Miller, Keith Tandy) who will play at the next level. However, this "unit" has struggled to play as one. In fact, it looks more like three units playing on the same field. That shoudn't come as a big surprise. This is a young group, which had many new parts coming in. Overall, they has been pretty good. They didn't give up a touchdown in the first two games, but struggled the last few weeks. The effort has been there, the technique has not. The line can't get a puss rush, the linebackers are not wrapping up, and the secondary look lost at times. They go up against another good offense on Saturday, so the spotlight will certainly be on.

Defense: The Falcons are allowing less than 20 points per game. This is one of the better numbers in the nation. Now, it's not against stellar opponents, but the bottomline is they're getting the job done. The line has done well to keep teams honest. The Falcons have consistently gotten to the opposing quarterback, and have done well against the run. That pressure has relieved a young linebacking unit. The secondary has done well, but haven't faced a passing attack like West Virginia's. It will be interesting to see how aggressive the Falcons play early against the West Virginia offense.

Special Teams:

West Virginia: Just a train wreck so far. Yes, Tyler Bitancurt has been fine kicking, and Tavon is a good return man. But everything else needs major work. Net punting is dead last in the country, tackling on coverage is shambolic, and blocking on returns isn't much better. Dana Holgorsen talked about this being potentially the major issue, and changes may be made before tomorrow's game. Mistakes from this unit can be a death sentence.

Bowling Green: The kicking game is strong. All averages are fine, including punter Brian Schmiedebusch's 49 per-kick. The return game has been fine, nothing huge. Look for Steven Dunlap to get most of the opportunities. WVU will have to not make any of these kids household names.

Overall: West Virginia is going to score. So, will the Mountaineer defense step up? Bowling Green will have to take risks to stay in this game, so look for WVU to play aggressivley to force mistakes...something that has eluded this defense so far. Expect a close game early, but just too much Geno and company will ultimately make the difference. Bowling Green will need the perfect game, which won't be the case. The Mountaineers make it big late.

Prediction: 49-24 West Virginia