Technically, it's been a short week for the WVU Mountaineer football team. Because they play on Friday, they had one less day to prepare for UConn. Unfortunately, after last week's Homecoming upset at the hands of the Syracuse Orange, this still feels like the longest week ever as everyone in Morgantown has been looking for answers. When the game starts at Rentschler Field there will still be plenty of questions about the 2010 Mountaineers, and hopefully this week is the week we get some answers.
Some things to watch for:
-The defense. Despite giving up a touchdown that shouldn't have happened last week, the defense still carries the water for this Mountaineer squad. Ranked sixth in the country despite dropping two games, this unit is playing well. UConn sends its third string QB, Zach Frazer, out to face the Mountaineer D. Cody Endres, who started to begin the season, has been kicked off of the team, and backup Michael Box was knocked out of the game last week against Louisville with a head injury. All in all, the time is ripe for the Mountaineer defense to feast on inferior talent. But will they? Who knows anymore. This UConn team came into the season highly touted, but has sunk like a stone since day one. Hopefully that trend continues.
-Offensive consistency. Will the Mountaineers ever have it? Geno Smith had this to say about last week's performance against Syracuse:
"I think our strength is balance," Smith said. "We have a good passing game and a good running game. But we have yet to put together a complete game. Whenever we decide to put together a complete game, we'll be a great offense."
"That inconsistency is something we have to look into. Sometimes we come out and light it up, while sometimes we come out and look flat. You don't want that to happen."
I tend to agree with him, but it's hard to be balanced when the offensive line fails to push defenders off of their blocks and has serious issues pass protecting. All around Mountaineer Nation tonight, fans will be looking for some sort of rhythm and a sense that the team has a cohesive game plan. Right now, that's the biggest issue in the Mountain State. Are the Mountaineers a running team? Are they a passing team? Do they even know?
My good friends over at City of Morgantown think the answer is less huddling. The fine folks at the D.A. couldn't come up with one solution, so they found three, but none of those seem to fit. Right now, it's all about making the offense run. It doesn't matter which plays are run, or for which players. Nothing is more important than simply making the offense move. The tendency to sink into the field through questionable play calling and pathetic execution has to stop if there's any hope for the Mountaineers to win the conference. Which brings us to ...
-What's the deal with the Big East? Look, I support the conference as much as the next guy and tend to believe Big East teams aren't quite as bad as everybody says they are. Right now, though, the whole conference stinks. One intrepid blogger has figured out that there's a way for seven of the eight Big East teams to finish tied for first with 4-3 conference records. If that's not the picture of mediocrity, I don't know what is!
In the end, all there really is to look out for tonight is to see if the Mountaineers can come out and play like they're the best team on the field. It doesn't happen all the time, but it should happen tonight. If it doesn't, well, I don't even want to begin to think about what the rest of the season holds ...
I'm out of town this weekend, so hopefully I'll get a chance to stop back by tomorrow and recap what goes down. Hopefully it's good. If it isn't, and you find yourself in some Washington DC watering hole listening to the quiet sobs of a downtrodden 'Eers fan, come up and say "Hi." I promise I won't bite.