FROM: Country Roads
TO: JP Fanshawe
DATE: Sun, Sep 30, 2012 4:18 pm
Holy smokes, what a game. That was probably the most fun I've ever had in Morgantown, and that was without all the pre-game revelry in which I usually partake. The weather was perfect, the crowd was large, loud, and generally electric, and the teams treated us to 4 hours of nonstop offensive fireworks, with the Mountaineers finally prevailing in the end. Between striping the stadium, opening Big XII conference play, homecoming, and Trace Adkins singing the national anthem, it seemed like everything just came together for an ideal day. Did you get the same vibe watching on WV? And what more can you say about Geno Smith and the offense? I don't think we'll ever see another performance like that in our lifetimes. They were absolutely perfect. And the scar part is, that was all without Shawne Alston. We really might be able to score 100 if we capitalize on turnovers and make our field goals. The defense, on the other hand.... I think I was right when I said before that they couldn't stop a 14 year old chess club member with acne and a pocket protector from scoring. If it wasn't for the Mountaineer Field turf jumping up and making a couple tackles, the numbers could have been even worse. How much does that worry you going forward? Will we face another offense as potent as Baylor's? And what did you think about the special teams? A missed field goal (albeit a 50 yarder), some suspect punting, some curious kick returns by Austin and Bailey. I'm not sure that's a strength for us right now. Despite just putting up 70 points on another Top 25 team, we still have plenty to work on.
FROM: JP Fanshawe
TO: Country Roads
DATE: Tue, Oct 2, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Curiously, I didn't get such a positive vibe from watching the game as it seems you did. Perhaps that is due to the fact that I didn't get much pregame imbibing done (it seems like a way more alcoholic thing to be drinking at 10 am in your own house, as opposed to the Blue Lot, where a lot of other people are getting their drank on...), but I think it might have more to do with just how abysmal our defense played. I have been rationalizing the D's performance by telling my nebula-of-negative-energy friends -- you know, the type to whom you can't give any ammunition -- that the defense's sieve-like nature in this game was simply a product of Baylor's offense being nearly as good as our own. But the cushions our D'backs were giving...how do you get burned deep when your 9 yards off the line? And now, ask that question again. Because it happened over and over. I watched the game at a good friend's house with several people in attendance and it seemed we had barely gotten to celebrate our scores before Baylor had answered. I can honestly say I don't know that I like this video-game style of football. With that said...I love our offense, but I do worry that we are now setting the bar so high, that our base is going to be disappointed with point totals in the 40's...
I believe that the college game is getting more and more like the NFL in one sense: that it is a week-to-week league in much the same way that spins of the Roulette wheel are not interconnected. So, the optimist in me hopes that last week's defensive horrors will prove an aberration and it might be prescient to consider that our offensive prowess buys us a lot of cache: we can win games giving up 38 or 40 a game. The pessimist in me, though, and the gambler, has long believed that the one thing a college team can't do that the pros can is sign free agents mid-season. I have made a lot of money over the years by just going against teams at the bottom of the total defense rankings because college teams can't solve personnel problems during the season. And we are 118th in defense. So, score, baby, score will have to be our mantra!
What are your thoughts on Texas? I would love to jet out to Austin to see that game. I have heard from many that it is a fabulous town...and as far as the game goes, I am sure this might be the best defense we see, save possibly Oklahoma. If we can torch the Longhorns the way we did the Bears...I think we can ride the offense to a Big XII title. If we don't, however, I think three or four losses are a possibility.
Numbers: Just how bad is the defense? 106th in total defense, 118th in pass defense, 109th in passing efficiency defense and 94th in points allowed, 74th in Yards Per Point Allowed, and 80th in Yards Per Play Allowed. See those last two? I think they are cause for hope...yes, our defense was torched, to be true bottom-feeders defensively, you have to be worse than 100th in them, which, as yet, we are not. On the luminescent side: just how good is the offense: 3rd in total offense, 1st in pass offense, 1st in efficency, 3rd in points, 18th in Yards Per Point, and 4th in Yards Per Play. So, yeah...we are the yin and yang of offense and defense thus far: Pro-offense, High School Defense.
FROM: Country Roads
TO: JP Fanshawe
DATE: Tue, Oct 2, 2012 11:37 am
I'm not sure if yin and yang is as good a description as Jekyll and Hyde for our offense and defense. There really isn't much serenity in having to score 70 to win conference games. And while I do think our defense is bad, I went back and watched some of the game on DVR last night and came out...somewhat hopeful. I know I'm stupidly optimistic at times, but even Holgorsen found reasons to be less concerned. We did stop the run fairly well, and we were actually in position to make a number of tackles but just...didn't. I think tackling is something that can be corrected, and relatively quickly. I would be more worried if nobody was ever in position to make a play. The other thing that stood out to me is how many quality throws Florence made. He hit receivers in stride, put balls over linebackers and under safeties, and generally put his wideouts in a position where they could use their speed to churn up yards after the catch. I also noticed we were hurt early with a number of penalties that shortened the field for them. You just can't do that against a really good offense.
As for Austin, I am giddy about making my first-ever trip there. I have heard nothing but great things about the culture and nightlife, and it seems like their fans are ready to make Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium a raucous atmosphere for our first Big XII road game. It's fun to be favored, but there is a great sense of anticipation that comes with a big game that could go either way, and that's the sense I have about this one. What a great test for us, and I think you're right about this game (despite what you said about every week being a spin of the roulette wheel) being a good predictor of things to come. Three or four losses is a definite possibility if we can't find a way to compete in this game, but I think as long as Geno, Tavon and Stedman are healthy, we can move the ball against anybody. If we win Saturday, I'll be really excited to see what this team can do the rest of the way and I'd pay a lot of money to see what we can do against a defense like Alabama.
But I digress. How much did you get to see of Texas-Oklahoma State? Ash looks very capable, and their running backs are good, but I wasn't as impressed with their defense as I expected to be. With a backup redshirt freshman quarterback and no real stud receivers, the Cowboys were able to move the ball enough to rack up 36 points. That has to bode well for our well-oiled machine, right?
FROM: JP Fanshawe
TO: Country Roads
DATE: October 4, 2012 8:58:23 PM EDT
I don't think you are stupidly optimistic, especially since Holgo came away with pretty much the same view. We play good enough defense three quarters of the time, so I think game experience will improve that 25 percent of the time where we are lacking.
I am insanely jealous of all of our fans, and you as you make the trip to Austin. I, too, have long heard of what a wonderful and eclectic town it is, with a vibrant music scene, great food, hospitality, and a bevy of beauties in sundresses and cowboy boots. I have been intrigued to read some of the comments from our new Big XII brethren in the threads that the Longhorns seems to sport a Carrier Dome crowd...what with the old fogeys and their wine and cheese, sitting on their hands.
Holgy was hilarious on the radio...did you catch it? Something along the lines of: "I want you guys to go out on the field, warmup, and then get on the sidelines. It is a big stadium. A beautiful campus, well-manicured. Big crowd. And they've cheerleaders in chaps. Those are nice to look at...and a big steer. Don't the worry the steer won't charge you." I am paraphrasing here, of course. I have to say that I really love Holgorsen's demeanor. It is evident that he is having fun, and wants the team to have fun as well, and I just can't see him being the kind of guy whose teams tense up at the wrong moments. Rather, his leadership style encourage them to play fast and loose.
I didn't get to see any of Texas-OSU, but I did look at the stats. I am heartened by the fact that a rather green OSU team was able to move the ball effectively, and I think that bodes well for us. If we can hold them under 40, I think this one is ours.
This is a hell of a stretch we are entering. Texas, Texas Tech, K-State, TCU, OK State, Oklahoma....talk about a gauntlet the likes of which we never saw in the Big East. We can forge a reputation that might aid us in future years in the next six weeks. I am really looking forward to seeing how Holgorsen and the boys do.
Lastly, we are 0-3 against the spread and enjoy our first underdog role this season. I think we cover.