Well folks, it's gameday in Morgantown once again, and there hangs a sense of gloom and doom in the air that wasn't there the last time the team took to Mountaineer Field. It's been almost a month since the Mountaineers have won a game, suffering disappointing back-to-back conference losses to Syracuse and Connecticut. Once seemingly in the driver's seat for a conference title, they now find themselves mired in a two-loss quagmire with nearly all of the other teams in the Big East. To have any hope of salvaging the season, WVU has to start winning, and they have to do it today.
Bill Stewart and company have been under intense scrutiny over the span of the bye week while everyone weighed in with their opinion. I did. Then Bob Hertzel weighed in on my opinion, but kind of missed the point. And so forth and so on. Needless to say, there's a dull roar growing and it seems like every conversation around Morgantown for the last two weeks has focused on the Stew factor and whether or not this is the beginning of the end. I don' t think it is, but a good performance today could go a long way towards ensuring it's not.
Right now is normally the part of the storystream where I throw out some players and some schemes that I think might come in to play this afternoon. This week though, I'm at a loss. I don't know what to expect. I'd like to think that there's been a concerted effort on the part of this team to get focused and get back to doing what it does best. On offense, that's running the football, and the short passing game. While I don't fault Ryan Clarke any more than any other player, I'd like to see him left out of the mix early and Jeff Mullen really focus on getting Noel Devine back looking like Noel Devine.
The Cincinnati team that comes to town isn't the same squad that won back-to-back conference titles with Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard departed to the NFL and Brian Kelly off trying to polish the golden dome. In Kelly's place is former WVU assistant coach Butch Jones. Jones has been very successful since leaving the Mountaineers, and there are more than a few folks in Morgantown who would like to seem him on home sideline sometime in the near future. Quarterback Zach Collaros did a number last year on the 'Eers coming in in relief of an injured Tony Pike. However, this time Collaros is the one who finds himself banged up and he might not play, and if he does he may not be 100%. Either way, I expect Jeff Casteel's defense to be ready for the test.
The Mountaineers have lost two straight games this season, and the last two to the Bearcats. Needless to say, there are a lot of questions going into this afternoon's game. If the Mountaineers lose, or even play sloppily, the din for Stewart's dismissal will grow, and the likelihood of a decent bowl bid will go out the window.