[This was written Saturday morning after the Mountaineers crushed any hope I had at a top-notch season. I was traveling and my crappy hotel didn't have Wi-Fi. My apologies for the lateness of this wrap-up. --Aaron]
Last night I sat a bar outside the nation's capital and watched the game. There were some lonely folks there by themselves gently nursing one drink and waiting for their chance to sing karaoke to an empty bar. That said the saddest thing I saw last night was the Mountaineer football team.
I don't know what to think any more. The level of focus on the field last night was nearly nonexistent. Ryan Clarke's fumble on the one yard line encapsulates the entirety of the rest of the game. Here we have one of the most talented players on the field literally handing the game to a team that was so over-matched they shouldn't even been allowed off the bus. Somehow, someway it seems that the 2010 Mountaineer Football team will find a way to lose. Even when they've won they have looked like they were still looking for a way to turn the tables in the opposition's favor. So when Clarke put the ball on the ground during a play that would have assuredly won the game it was almost as if the whole team said, "Sorry, this is as far as we can go."
The defense, again, performed admirably, but even they had lapses, giving up just enough yardage to let UConn stay in the game and one big play that contributed just enough points to make things interesting. For the most part they seemed to be in control, which is what makes Clarke's game ending fumble so frustrating. There was no way UConn was getting the ball in the endzone, but the Mountaineer's created a way for them to win it with a field goal.
There were a few bright spots, and players who played well, but this is a team game. If someone's off their game, the entire team is off. I've defended this coaching staff's play calling all year, and I still don't have a problem with it. However, calling plays is only part of their duties. The other part is to have the team focused and prepared and ready to play no matter the opponent, no matter the situation. Last night it was painfully obvious to everyone watching that the Mountaineers were not even remotely prepared. After the game, Coach Stewart told the press, "You cannot win ballgames if you can't take care of the ball." I wonder if he bothered to tell the team that.
It's difficult to know what the future holds for the Mountaineers, but at this rate I think it's safe to say that it's not going to be good.