It was the mantra of the Mountaineers during the offseason and for a while it looked like it had really taken hold. Then November happened and we heard coaches say the same things we've heard for 3 years and fans grumble the same things they've grumbled for 3 years and we were all looking around to see how the final chapters of 2014 would be written.
Well the Mountaineers answered the doubts for at least one more week and they finished strong. So let's take a cue from them here at the Retweet and finish strong ourselves as we launch the last edition of the 2014 regular season (man that went by fast).
At 54, Darryl Talley's life is in tatters – his body wrecked and mind deteriorating - with no relief in sight http://t.co/ukpJxnJG3V— Tim Graham (@ByTimGraham) November 27, 2014
Before we get rolling a quick note on this heartbreaking story that ran in the Buffalo News last week. Darryl Talley is one of my all time favorite Mountaineers. I'm not old enough to have seen him play at WVU, but my dad was always a big fan and I remember thinking it was cool to have a WVU player in the NFL when I was growing up. He's always represented himself and his alma mater with dignity and class, which made reading this especially tough.
This is a guy who seemingly did everything right. Played hard, played hurt, gave everything he had for his team and has been a solid contributor in his community. Doesn't seem to have made stupid life choices and didn't blow his money on cars and parties. Folks forget that players in his ear (80s-90s) didn't make the truckloads of money that guys rake in now and a pretty normal life can blow through money pretty quick.
If you haven't read this article yet please do. It's not easy but you need to do it. It's a sad story and one you should expect to hear a lot more of in the coming years. Football is a tough sport and it's also a business. It's shameful to me that the Bills organization seems to have abandoned a guy who wasn't some free agent pickup for 3 years, but literally bled for that franchise for a decade and a half. Teams and the leagues have had a rough year on the PR front, but taking care of guys like Darryl would be an easy way to win back some goodwill.
@LostLettermen fans step up, start a gofundme site for him http://t.co/jsOfV9zwt8— ®yan ⛳ (@RDRinker) November 28, 2014
In 2 days, Bills & WVU fans have raised $106K for Darryl Talley. http://t.co/o6mBio5v3Z #hailwv @WVUAlumniAssoc— C - LO (@LopezClay) November 29, 2014
Projections for #AZLB56 (1/2): Ark/WVU (Schlabach) Tenn/WVU (McMurphy) Ark/ Texas (Palm) Tenn/WVU (SI) Ark/WVU (http://t.co/CjAphFp7IG)— AutoZoneLibertyBowl (@AZOLibertyBowl) November 28, 2014
I'll take this all day, but would much prefer Tennessee over Arkansas. I know a ton of UT fans down here so it would be fun for me personally, but more importantly Arkansas would be a brutal matchup for WVU.
CBS commentator just stated that Arkansas' offensive line, at 328 lbs per avg, is the biggest line in college or the NFL. Wow!!!— Chip Miller (@UKBIGBLUENATION) November 28, 2014
But if the Mountaineers do end up in Memphis that's a quick 3 hour drive for me, so maybe I'll get a chance to meet any of y'all down there that make the trip.
Last regular season Saturday of college football left :(— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) November 29, 2014
That makes me a sad panda. A very, very, very sad panda.
Fox promo just talked about its rivalry coverage tomorrow: Apple Cup, Kansas-Kansas State, USC-Notre Dame.... And WVU-Iowa State. This sucks— Randy Gyorko (@GooseGyorko) November 28, 2014
I'm getting to really love the Big 12, and I have nothing but respect for Iowa St., but this is the most contrived "rivalry" in history and it's just not doing it for me. Honestly, wrestling fans think this thing is manufactured. I would give so much to just get Pitt back on the schedule. Even just 4 or 5 times a decade or something. Real hate-filled rivalries take so much time to grow, it's a shame to throw one away when it's developed as much cache as the Backyard Brawl. Hopefully, when little kitten Pittsburgh Panther athletic director Steve Pederson leaves someone with an actual set of cajones takes over and puts his head together with Oliver Luck to renew this thing.
It's the only rivalry I constantly see people lamenting that it's gone every year. That means something. That's important. This needs to happen.
Instead of Backyard Brawl, we get Iowa State vs. #WVU. Thanks, #OneTrueChampion— Matt Hayes (@Matt_HayesSN) November 29, 2014
Yes, that's right. Blame the Big 12. Don't blame Virginia Tech and the self-serving chicken(bleep)s that skated on the Big East in 2003. Don't blame Pitt and Syracuse or the ACC for picking the Big East clean after WVU had helped re-build the damn thing. Don't blame the chicken(bleep) Panther athletic director who refuses to schedule WVU and just to troll us scheduled Marshall. By all means, blame the Big 12.
I LOVE WHEN UNINFORMED NATIONAL WRITERS OPINE ON THINGS ABOUT WHICH THEY KNOW NOTHING.
"There were 54,000 rabid farmers, they're a lot like us." -@TheSignalCaller on Iowa State fans— Ty Braenovich (@Tydog1) November 29, 2014
Again - wonderful folks. Just not our rivals.
Today's uni's....Has a bit of a San Diego Chargers look... pic.twitter.com/vzywwtqffL— Jed Drenning (@TheSignalCaller) November 29, 2014
QB Skyler Howard earns his first career start today #HailWV— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) November 29, 2014
I would have been shocked if Clint Trickett had seen the field. This was the best decision for Trickett's present and WVU's future. Having said that if he's healthy you've got to give Clint the ball for the bowl game. It's the right thing to do and I have a feeling with a long layover he'll be effective again. Kid deserves to go out on his terms.
Dana Holgorsen was downright giddy after that 54-yard TD from Rushel Shell. Arms in the air, "I knew you could do it!" #WVU— Geoff Coyle (@GFCoyle) November 29, 2014
I have said several times now that WVU only has one home-run hitting tailback and his name is Dreamius Smith. I'd heard a lot about Rushel Shell's speed but had yet to see him do anything impressive in the open field. Hopefully this is a harbinger of things to come.
And about Dreamius....we'll get to him later.
Butterfly Effect on display there. If Chestnut makes that tackle, ISU punts. He doesn't, ISU keeps drive alive and it results in a TD— Jason (@jason1040) November 29, 2014
Hell, this entire season has been one long exercise in the butterfly effect. An ISU touchdown is the least of our worries.
Where would this team be had @SkylerDonHoward took over the reigns against TCU after Trickett about had his head ripped off?— EersNation™ (@EersNation) November 29, 2014
And that's the biggest one of the year right there. Don't think about it too long, your ears will bleed.
Josh Lambert, who didn't hit from longer than 45 yards going into south end zone that I saw in warmups, well short on a 49-yard attempt.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) November 29, 2014
This feels like the type of decision I would want my special teams coordinator to provide input with. Something along the lines of "he hasn't hit from longer than 45 to that end all day" might have been appropriate. This team makes curious decisions.
Getting some love in the studio after Skyler Howard breaks off 15 yard QB draw "He's doing his best Rasheed impression!" Thx @HoppyKercheval— Rasheed Marshall (@RasheedMarshall) November 29, 2014
I think a lot of us had handed the 2015 job to William Crest. Now all the sudden, that's not a no-brainer. The good news is whoever takes the reins will be mobile, and that could add a deadly weapon to this offense.
Iowa State back into the #WVU redzone. Defense has had no answers early.— Keenan Cummings (@rivalskeenan) November 29, 2014
Things were trending downward there for a bit. Sharply downward. As in "oh my god there's no way this team is going to lose to Iowa St. right?" downward.
Don't panic, I still have all of my timeouts.— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) November 29, 2014
Um, @abpriddy about ol Smith..— Jeremy Shoemaker (@dasbootmaker) November 29, 2014
As you may remember, I've been calling for Dreamius to get the ball more all year. I'm not alone. But yeah, Dreamius didn't have the best day. The lesson, as always: I'm an idiot.
Yet another turnover for #WVU. Don't think I've ever seen a team shoot itself in the foot like this— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) November 29, 2014
Oh, we're well past shooting ourselves in the foot. We've blasted both kneecaps, tossed some lead in the hips and....well....let's just say there are no good remaining options.
Just in case --> @FauxRodriguez— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) November 29, 2014
That's the most loaded troll-tweet in the history of loaded troll-tweets. That thing is dipped in plutonium-sprinkled uranium and I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole and a lead-lined safety vest.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "@GregMadia: #WVU has fumbled 27 times this year and lost 17 of those fumbles. That’s a bad stat."— Sports Dude™ (@ImTheSportsDude) November 29, 2014
That's an awful, awful stat. Jed and his crew kicked this one around a little in the postgame and Jed, who does as much stat research as anyone I know, says this isn't common for Holgorsen offenses. Well, it's two years now it's been a big problem and in my book that's trending towards being a trend. I've got this one on my list to do a deep dive at some point, but for now let's settle for a highlighter and asterisk.
Am I off-base in thinking that Holgorsen doesn't trust his players 100%?— Jim Ashley (@JimAshley018) November 29, 2014
I think the real question is have they given him enough reason to trust them 100%? For November, I say no.
Pretty little throw and catch there. Alford is way too good to disappear for games at a time.— Randy Gyorko (@GooseGyorko) November 29, 2014
And I agree, which made that much more surprised when I read this:
Mario Alford has scored at least one touchdown in all but two games this season. #HailWV #SuperMario— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) November 29, 2014
That's a helluva weapon to have and lose 5 games. And there's an equally effective weapon on the other side of the field in Kevin White. So the million-dollar question is was this team playing over its head to get to 6-2 and eventually 7-5 or given what we now know about the talent does that feel about right - if anything a game or two short of where they ended up? This is just a really hard season to valuate.
Speaking of Alford, he did something on Saturday he hadn't done in awhile - made some difficult catches. In fact, even with all the attention given to White, I'm going to say Alford making plays or not making them has been the difference this year. There was his surefire touchdown that bounced off his fingertips in the second half against TCU and the disappearing act against Texas. More importantly, WVU wins often hinged on his making not spectacular catches, but difficult catches. Not impossible - just difficult.
It's no coincidence that a pair of difficult catches keyed the WVU 30-2 rally/run that keyed this victory.
End around to Jordan Thompson goes for 29 yards, then Howard keeps on read option for 24 yards. WVU inside ISU territory.— Greg Madia (@GregMadia) November 29, 2014
Those are two weapons we get back next year, kids. Be thankful.
First sack since dropping Boykin of TCU once for 1 yard.— Dave Hickman (@dphickman1) November 29, 2014
This front has been wholly ineffective. Which is unfortunately another weapon we get back next year.
(hey wait why are you making me keep this butter knife!!)
Who flipped the "on" switch for West Virginia's offense?— David Ubben (@davidubben) November 29, 2014
More importantly Ubbs who the hell flipped the "off" switch? 'Cause if I find that sumbitch, him and me gonna exchange some words.
Will give him credit, Skyler Howard looked terrible in the spring. I had Logan Moore ahead of him even. Light years ahead now #WVU— Marc Basham (@marc_b) November 29, 2014
I think if you gave the WVU coaches truth serum they'd tell you they were scared to death of needing to go with a backup QB. Which is kinda silly considering the durability questions that existed around their starter, but they were scared. I bet if you'd given them a glimpse of Howard's second half against Kansas State, we'd have seen him against either TCU or Texas instead of them trotting a Clint Trickett who's been limited by either his head or his arm.
And can't give enough credit to Howard. He'd become an afterthought and the guy who was going to shine William Crest's crown when he inevitably took over at QB, but now all the sudden he's looking like he wants to be the guy. With Crest perhaps limited by injury (I still can't tell if he's really hurt or if they're overselling to secure the medical redshirt) we're all but assured of a huge QB battle stretching from the spring into the fall. And now Skyler Howard has quite a bit of game film in his corner. This one is gonna be interesting to watch....
ISU, winless in the Big 12, is in a firefight with WVU... #WVUvsISU (by /u/jrmwvu04) pic.twitter.com/zVbEghXP3D— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) November 29, 2014
This cracked me up. I hate that damn paperclip - always reminds me of typing college papers late at night in the computer lab (talk about antiquated) and having that little bastard tell me that I couldn't indent or use bullet points like that. And if he couldn't help me properly space a paragraph, no way he was going to be able to do anything about this WVU losing skid.
Good balance from the #WVU offense in the first half (184 yards rushing vs. 162 yards passing). You can see Howard getting more comfortable.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) November 29, 2014
This was a recurring theme. Most balanced effort of the year for WVU. I like someone having to spend 4 weeks preparing for that.
Georgia doing a WVU 2012 Orange Bowl there.— Ben Kercheval (@BenKercheval) November 29, 2014
Like that WVU/Clemson Orange Bowl play RT @Year2 Damien Swann with a 99-yard fumble return TD for Georgia https://t.co/TDLZs7fRt6— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) November 29, 2014
I like that "doing a WVU" has become a thing. And not a crappy thing like 'Clemsoning.' We're the cool cats now, y'all.
Big day for Tonkerys. Wes led WVU in tackles in first half, Bridgeport led by Tonkery's 3 early TDs to lead in playoffs.— Bob Hertzel (@bhertzel) November 29, 2014
WEST VIRGINIA NEEDS MORE TONKERYS!!! WE NEED ALL THE TONKERYS WE CAN MUSTER!!!
Hate the rule because it's unavoidable for the defender but yet "correct" targeting call. Tough luck for WVU..— WRNL (@WideRtNattyLt) November 29, 2014
I think that's kinda where we are with this rule. There's only so much the defender can do and there will be times when an offensive player goes low and it all happens in a fraction of a second and it happens. I just wish they'd remove the ejection from the equation. Or at least save it for times when it's really warranted. Like a guy clearly tries to take someone's head off. Make it like flagrant fouls in basketball where you have different levels to give the refs an opportunity to make the punishment fit the crime.
We can do better than this.
DO NOT SLEEP ON THE CYCLONES— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) November 29, 2014
I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever sleep on the Cyclones. I dread the day when a 9 or 10 win WVU team rolls into Ames needing a win to secure something that matters. I'm not excited about that at all.
#WVU defense comes up big with an interception by Terrell Chestnut in the end zone. Mountaineers get the ball back and keep the lead.— Michael Carvelli (@Carvelli3) November 29, 2014
That was obviously a big play and served as evidence that, while the WVU defense has been unable to do much on the fumble-forcing front, the DBs have been pretty good at making reads and making plays. Daryl Worley's pick against Alabama where he crossed the field comes to mind. God forbid anyone ever gets these guys a real pass rush and they could be very, very special. Excited we get most of 'em back next year.
@TheDeuceWVU pretty much. First time I have seen him caught from behind (albeit a shoestring tackle).— Joshua K. Briggs (@MountyMuscle) November 29, 2014
I was actually listening to the game on the radio (we were driving to see relatives, it's a long story) and when I heard Tony say Alford had caught it at the 40, I put my hands up, assured it was a score. I was shocked when the next sentence out of his mouth contained the word tackle. But that just points out how silly a place Mario has us. We hear him catch a ball at the 40 and assume a score. He's good.
Howard finds Shorts in the end zone for a touchdown to give #WVU a 34-24 lead with 9:10 to play.— Blue & Gold News (@BlueGoldNews) November 29, 2014
One of my favorite things about Howard's emergence has been his reliance on Daikiel Shorts and Jordan Thompson. I love White and Alford as much as anyone, but I also love guys who will be around in 2015. I like him building a rapport with those guys early and being smart enough to recognize its importance - he's clearly made an effort here.
Good Win .. Shout out to @SkylerDonHoward my momma owe you a meal lol— Daikiel Shorts . (@D_shorts6) November 29, 2014
And see? You take care of Daikiel and Momma Shorts takes care of you!
Congrats @J_LambertWVU MT "@VinceSkolny: #WVU's Josh Lambert kicked 2 40+ yard field goals today to set the NCAA record with 15 for season."— Tracy Fleager (@trfleager) November 30, 2014
White's not going to win the Biletnikoff (Alabama's Amari Cooper sewed that baby up in the Iron Bowl) and Gibby isn't going to win the Broyles Award, but damn I hope Lambert brings home the Groza Award. If you're talking about difficult kicks, I don't see anyone close. His percentage isn't off the charts (at 75% he's 54th nationally) but he set the record for kicks in a season from 40+ AND he leads the nation in kicks made from 50+ with 4. Also with 27 field goals made he's got 2 more than anyone else in America.
Did I mention two of those were game winners (one from 47, one from 55) and a whole truckload of them have been in adverse weather conditions?
He's the best kicker in America. No debate.
@abpriddy And congrats to Gibby for getting the defense back in order after a really shaky first quarter.— powerlifteer (@powerlifteer) November 29, 2014
Great adjustments. That guy could not have had a better year as a DC. And that's something I wasn't sure I'd be able to type a few months ago. Great to see that guy come home and kill it like this.
Country Roads, bring her home...to the place, she belongs...West Virginia pic.twitter.com/eLaWEKfMVY— Smoking Musket (@SmokingMusket) November 29, 2014
Come to papa, sweetie. Did they hurt you over the year?
Maybe it's not the Brawl, but it's what we've got, and to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don't go to war with the rivalry you want, you go to war with the rivalry you have. And I guess this is ours, so GIMME THAT GAS CAN!!
And now for your West Virginia high school update:
Final capital 35-7— Gazette sports (@gazette_sports) November 29, 2014
Ugh. You'll never get me to say anything good about Capital. #RedDragon4Lyfe
Who's ready for the Liberty Bowl?— JM2 (@TheDeuceWVU) November 29, 2014
I am. 100% and I'm not even being snarky or ironic. Listen, it's not the sexiest bowl ever but Memphis has good food and a fun party scene so it will be fun. There's even a chance of a marquee name with Florida, LSU or Tennessee. Arkansas wouldn't be a terrible consolation prize. If nothing else we're sure to get plenty of coverage playing an SEC team. All things considered it's not a bad place to be at all.
Hope to see you on Beale Street.