Welcome all to the first edition of Hurricane Thursday, a tradition that resides in select WVU students to pregame before hitting the Downtown scene for the Thursday night specials. Tonight feels like a Category 2, so around 7pm tonight, the Evansdale Kroger will be selling two Hurricane Malt Liquor 40oz. per By-Godder at $1.89+tax. About halfway through the first, I will most likely start rambling on making bold and/or outlandish statements as any student would who has roughly 20 ounces in their system of the
cheapest finest beverage Kroger has to offer. Here, I will take those statements that I will probably spend hours forcing upon my friends, condense them, refine them, and package these pieces of modern art onto what will be a weekly(ish) feature known as Smitty's Hurricane Thursday. In the great words of Samuel L. Jackson....
1. WVU Has the Best WR Duo in the Country (or at Least Tied)
There are several ways I could argue this, but I'll stick with the eye-test and pure statistics. First of all, Stedman Bailey (from now on referred to as Studman in this piece) is exactly that. Just do a YouTube search. First one to come up is DougityDog's badassery and, for how talented DougityDog is at making these videos, Studman makes it easy. Stiff-arm against Pitt, sidestepping first rounder Mo Claiborne after punching him in the mouth, circus catch against Rutgers *in the snow*, one hander against Louisville, and the Big East KO punch. Studman, after laying out for that ball, practically had to be propped up for the spike then carried off. Statistically, he is absolutely in the argument for one of best in the nation and I'll prove that to you in a second. I gotta tell you about this other dude for a minute.
Oh, Tavon Austin, you're the love of my life,
Oh, Tavon Austin, I'd let you shag my wife,
Oh, Tavon Austin, I wish I was fast toooooo
Oh, Tavon Austin, is there anything you can't do? Using Dana's own words, every game you know who the fastest kid on the field is... and he's wearing #1. Again, DougityDog cleverly uses the WB theme here and why not? He's Roadrunner outwitting and outclassing all the coyotes out there. Here's the eye-test for you, but we're going to make it a face-test. Watch this and see if you make the same face for this.
As for statistics, Studman and Tavon only had two duos that were comparable by the numbers. Three schools had two wide receivers in the Top 30 for receiving yards last year: WVU, USC, and Houston. For the purposes of finding out who has the best core in 2012, Houston is eliminated because both of their boys, Pat Edwards and Justin Johnson are off to greener pastures. These are the receiving numbers for 2011 for two pairs.
||Class Rank (2011)
Pretty damn close. It should be interesting to see in the next few months because, if everything works out, they might be on the same field.
2. Mancrush-O-Meter: If Alston Keeps This Up, He Will Surpass Keanu
First of all, I think Keanu is a good actor. Who else can go from introducing Socrates to Kansas to arguably the most badass fight scene in film and save some face? I have to actively tell myself there is no reason to buy a Shane Falco shersey every time The Replacements comes on TBS (which is roughly every two weeks.) Either way, he was a baller as Neo and also played Satan's lawyer son. That's not even including some pretty rough stuff he's endured and some sad-looking park bench pics eventually leading to a Cheer Up Keanu day. What's not to like?
What's not to like is that he doesn't make two yard loss into a 21-yard run whilst breaking four-to-five tackles against Marshalol. In his defense, there are plenty of people that do not do that for the Mountaineers, but the guys that do make me all giddy inside. There are few things in the sports world that give me goosebumps as much as a fullback/extra-large running back dumptrucking a middle linebacker on his way to the secondary. It's a phenomenon that does not go in the stat sheet as anything more than a broken tackle, but it sends a message. I grew up watching Don Nehlen and Bill Cowher offenses which makes me a smash-mouth Big Ten style offensive guy. The philosophy is that there is absolutely no reason to pass the ball if a running back can run for five yards at a time. It means that you are stronger, tougher, and much better football team if you are able to run the ball with that kind of dominance. Getting hit in the mouth play after play gets old very quickly regardless of the level.
However, I do appreciate a balanced offense. Getting hit in the mouth play after play sucks even more when you're getting torched by some Hair Raid. However, we know what we have in the passing game. We also know that, last year, we were ranked 86th in rushing offense behind the likes of North Texas, Rice, Fresno State, Middle Tennessee, Ball State, Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette, and New Mexico State -- not quite flattering company.
I understand that Marshall is not an accurate example of what we will face each week this season, but having another threat in the backfield makes this offense from good to a title contender. If Shawne Alston keeps this up, he's on par for a 1000-yard season, something WVU hasn't seen since 2009. That, my friends, makes my mancrush deepen. Seriously, if I see him get another six first downs from sheer downhill running against JMU, my man crush will be unbearable for all in a 5 mile radius. Crushing skulls >>> Saving Sandra Bullock
3. Cleatus Is Awful, But Gus Johnson Is My Boy
With Big XII games regularly to be broadcasted over the plethora of FOX networks, there are two things that are guaranteed: Cleatus will make an appearance every game, but we will have at least one commentated by Rise and Fire himself, Gus Johnson. There will certainly be more of Cleatus dancing for no goddamn reason in and out of commercials, but when Augustus Cornelius Johnson, Jr., blesses the microphone.... great things happen.
If you are unaware of Gus Johnson by name, he was the most prolific voice for CBS March Madness matched only by Bill Raftery. Luckily, they were paired up for some crazy Adam Morrison stuff. They let him commentate the NBA for a bit and we got this gem. Then, someone decided he would be awesome for the NFL and he said that Chris Johnson was fast. Now, he works for FOX and I can only imagine the ways he would describe some Tavon cuts. The man has soundboards, "best of" playlists on YouTube, a rousing review on UrbanDictionary, and was on Tosh.0. It was once an internet theorem that was if a 16-seed was ever to beat a 1-seed, Gus Johnson would be commentating. I'm pumped for him to be calling WVU games and you should be, too.
4. Shaq Rowell Must Be A Monster in 2012
I'm about to drop some knowledge on you, kids, from an ESPN AFC East Blog entry.
If you don't have a good nose guard, you don't have a 3-4 defense," two-time Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley said at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium.
"You can build everything else around it. You can have a great pass-rusher. You can have a great safety like Troy Polamalu. But if you don't have a solid nose guard? You can't run a 3-4. That's the whole basis of the defense."
You can take that to the bank. In order for WVU to have a successful 3-4 defense, Shaq Rowell must play like a pro week in and week out. We all know the basics: pass defense relies on pass rush to force bad decision by the quarterback. The more bodies Rowell forces to block him, the better chance the blitz is successful. For a former defensive tackle, converted nose guard via spring camp, Shaq needs to be diesel in order for Pat Miller and Brodrick Jenkins to be effective in the bump-and-run.
This will be absolutely crucial for the upcoming JMU game and when Kansas State comes to town. Justin Thorpe has been lighting up defenses these two opening weeks with his arm and wheels. With that, if you don't know about Kansas State football, it really comes down to two things: Bill Snyder and Optimus Klein. He's Tebow without all the media baggage and a better cult following. Containing these two mobile quarterbacks will be a significant challenge for this WVU defense. This is tall order that DeForest is putting on Rowell, but at 6'4", 310lbs, he has the frame to do it.
5. If Not Now, When?
As we get further into the season, this statement will continue to grow into the back of your mind. Why not this year? We have arguably the most explosive offense in the nation with a Heisman candidate with the ball in his hands every play. They learned last year what it takes to be a contender in the LSU game. They know how to step up when the game is on the line (see: USF final three minutes.) Do you truly feel that a moment is too big for this team? Not when Captain America is at the helm.
Geno Smith is truly Captain America and we have no reason to feel otherwise. Is he a Heisman trophy winner? Is he a national title caliber quarterback? We will see, but I do know one thing..... we HAVE to do it now.
Here are our offensive senior starters: QB Captain America, RB(A) Ryan Clarke, RB(B) Shawne "You're in Good Hands with" Alston, IR(Y) Tavon Austin, WR(Z) JD Woods, LG Josh Jenkins, C Joe Madsen, RG Jeff Brauny. Eight of our 11 starters who put 69 up on Marshall aren't lining up for us after this year. We have to make it count. We already have three BCS trophies, but we don't have the big one. We got Dana, Captain America, Studman Bailey, and Tavon Awesome. So, really, there's only one thing left to do....