Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Gameweek! Week 9 Primer

Matchup: West Virginia at Rutgers

When: Saturday, 3:30p, ABC

Line: WVU -6.5

West Virginia Players to Watch:
Geno Smith, QB: 2,497 yards, 18 TD, 5 INT
Dustin Garrison, RB: 494 yards, 6.7 YPC, 5 TD
Tavon Austin, WR: 48 rec, 624 yards, 2 TD, 1 return TD
Stedman Bailey, WR: 41 rec, 764 yards, 6 TD

Rutgers Players to Watch:
Gary Nova, QB: 890 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT
Mohamed Sanu, WR: 65 rec, 683 yards, 6 TD
Khaseem Greene, FS: 66 total tackles, 6 TFL, 1 FF
Justin Francis, DL: 27 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 7 TFL


How does WVU respond from an awful outing? Hopefully with some passion. The Mountaineers were punchless Friday night against Syracuse. They better have their arms up, because Rutgers will do more of the same. Expect another physical game, and if the Mountaineers can't match the intensity, it could be another long day. I imagine that practice this week will be pretty rough.

What defensive unit shows up? The confident group that dismantled Connecticut? Or the soft unit that allowed Syracuse to do whatever they pleased? Jeff Casteel just doesn't have a consistent group this year, which does have some to do with inexperience. The linebacking unit has really been hurt by youth. However, the biggest problem has been the lack of a consistent pass rush, which has broken everything else down. Rutgers' line has struggled a bit this year, so we'll see if WVU can break through. We'll also see if Pat Miller gets replaced at left corner following a few tough outings.

Can Special teams wake back up? The unit looked very good against UConn, but it all came crashing down Friday night. Missed kicks, poor blocking, even worse has just been a nightmare for Dana Holgorsen. I don't know if scheme or personnel. All I know is it needs to be changed, because obviously it's not working.

Rutgers hasn't beaten WVU since 1994. Since then, the Knights have only been close a handful of times in the 16 losses. They have to feel pretty good on Saturday. Rutgers comes in with a pretty talented defense, but wil have to play smart offensively. WVU is prone to playmakers, so look for Mohamed Sanu to get a lot of looks, especillay if Pat Miller is on him. The natives are restless for a win over the mighty Mountaineers, so it should be a fun atmosphere on Saturday.

Conference Realignment 2011: Reports say WVU first in line for Missouri's Big 12 Spot

With Missouri potentially making a conference decision soon, the Big 12 is preparing for either scenario. The conference will be proactive if Mizzou does make the split to the SEC. Soonernation's Brandon Chatmon writes...

If Missouri leaves, (Oklahoma AD Joe) Castiglione said the Big 12 has a "Plan A" and "Plan 1-A" but did not discuss specific teams outside of BYU. He also said he was hopeful Missouri would remain in the Big 12.

"I think our intent would be to move as quickly as we could," Castiglione said. "There may be other issues that hinder our ability to move as quick as we want. Behind the scenes we will be doing as much as we can as quick as we can to resolve it."
So, what is the potential Plan A or 1-A? It's not public yet, Chatmon writes that West Virginia could be the first team called.
West Virginia could be the top choice to replace Missouri if the Tigers left the conference, a source with direct knowledge of the Big 12's expansion plans told's Andy Katz on Satuday. The source said the league is more inclined to go to 10 teams in the short term while it assesses the pros and cons of 10 or 12 teams.
We have heard this before from Katz, and you wonder if it starts to gain steam this week, especially with Missouri possibly leaving.

Chatmon also includes quotes from an Austin American-Satesmen story, where a Big 12 official said WVU would be an upgrade over Missouri. In that article by Kirk Brohls, a Big 12 official claims that...
“West Virginia has better football than Missouri, better basketball than Missouri, a better budget than Missouri and more passion among its fans than Missouri. They’re better, anyway you turn ‘em. The travel’s not good (to Morgantown, W. Va) but that’s it.”
So, as we head in to another week of uncertainty, maybe the light at the end is getting closer and closer...and that light is more South and heartland than Southeast.

WVU-Syracuse Final Thoughts

Well, that was a fun Friday night...for Syracuse. WVU was completely ambushed by a fantastic game plan, executed perfectly by the Orange. The Mountaineers had no response, other than puking all over themselves. This was one of the worst losses in recent memory.

Most Valuable: Stedman Bailey.
The wideout went for over 100 yards for the fifth straight game, including a spectacular catch-and-TD run early in the ball game. Bailey continues to have an extraordinary year.

Least Valuable: Everyone else. Just an awful performance.

Most Surprising: No Fight. Syracuse punched WVU in the mouth early and often. The Mountaineers had absolutely no answer to that intensity. They were blown off the ball, run over, knocked around, and generally destroyed by the Orange. This team needs to toughen up as soon as possible.

Least Surprising: Special Teams faltering...again. Another wretched performance that saw Syrcause break one return for a touchdown, and nearly a second. And to top it off, Tyler Bitancurt missed a PAT. Whether it's scheme or personnel, somebody needs to take some responsibility for this shambolic play.

Play of the Game: The Final Whistle.


Quarterback: Geno was hit early, and visibly shaken. He missed open targets, slow on the tempo, and had a few picks. Not a great night for Smith.
Grade: C-

Running back: Dustin Garrison and Shawne Alston combined for over 100 yards rushing, granted some was in garbage time. But, the boys did average over five yards a rush, and were successful on short yardage. Overall, not a bad day.
Grade: B

Wideout: Pretty good game for this unit, when WVU actually had the ball. Stedman went over 100 yards, Brad Starks made a great TD catch, and Tavon Austin did what he could. Sadly the game didn't warrant more opportunities.
Grade: B

Offensive line: A terrible night for pass blocking. Syracuse ate up the line, consistently hitting Geno all night long. The unit did run block well, but that gets lost considering Geno nearly died. This unit needs to get tougher.
Grade: D

Defensive line: Completely non-existent. No pass rush, struggled to slow the run, and picked up some foolish penalties. Took a major step back.
Grade: D

Linebacker: Didn't make a play the entire night. Couldn't stop the run, and did absolutely nothing to slow down the tight ends.
Grade: D

Secondary: Not a game to remember. The tackling was poor, and the coverage was even worse. Pat Miller alone might be responsible for three wide open Syracuse touchdowns. Just an awful performance.
Grade: D-

Special Teams: Well, the return was good. Everything else, disgusting.
Grade: D

Coaching: If there were adjustments made at halftime, they didn't show. Steve Dunlap might want to hide this week, considering his kick coverage failed once again. A lot of work to be done before Rutgers.
Grade: C-