It's that wonderful time of year when the footballs start flying and everybody is undefeated. The crisp mountain air is rife with possibility and we're free to dream big dreams, 4-8 seasons be damned. I'm devouring every morsel I can get my hands on and there's no better way to do that than the constant stream of Twitter info coming from Morgantown, and what better way to do that then with our old pal the Mountaineer Retweet.
First off though, if you'll indulge me, a personal note. You probably didn't notice, but I haven't been around here much. We've been building a house down here in Tennessee and I'm one of those stubborn people who is pretty picky and insisted on doing a lot of the work myself. As you can imagine between that and a full-time job I didn't have much free time and I basically disappeared for a few months. I just wanted to say thanks to the rest of the Musket crew for putting up with my absence and compliment them on expanding the roster while tossing out some great stuff in the last few weeks. It just made me more excited to start contributing again. I'm excited to be back.
Anyway, lets' dive into the tweets.
The man, the myth, the legend. The 'Stache. #Boomstache
This was when I knew football season had started.
Dana Holgorsen was excited to put his guys in the Oklahoma drill yesterday, not as excited as polite Kevin White. https://t.co/CEoeG5rdJ0— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) August 5, 2014
If you're a Mountaineer fan and watching that doesn't get you going, I don't know what to tell you. First you have Kevin White, a guy who just scratched the surface of what he could do last year. And he's up against Karl Joseph, Weapon of Mass Destruction. And White is just so fired up. I can't even contain my excitement at what a pissed off Kevin White could do to an opposing secondary. Mario Alford got a lot of the attention (justifiably) at the end of the year with his playmaking after moving out of the slot, but White is the guy I've always had my eyes on. There's simply no substitute for a big, physical receiver who can jump up and get a ball in traffic to make a big play or block out an opposing DB with his body to get a crucial few yards when you HAVE to have them. And the more I hear the more excited I get and he could complete take this offense to the next level and we haven't had a physical threat at the WR position like this in a decade since Chris Henry and HOLY CRAP I CAN'T QUIT TYPING I'M SO FRIGGIN' READY FOR THIS SEASON TO START.
(swig of beer)
OK. Let's get back to it.
DeForest also mentioned that Josh Lambert is making 60 yard FG's consistently during camp #HailWV— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) August 6, 2014
Wowza. Given that this team found itself in a lot of close games last year and hopefully will find itself in a lot of close ones again this year this seems like a nice thing to hear. I thought Lambert was great last season after a rocky start. Sounds like that trajectory continued through the offseason.
Of course reports like this are always going to be met with some skepticism.
@JoeDeForestWVU It's impossible for Josh to be hitting 60-yard FGs. There's not even a 60-yard line. Check your facts before lying next time— Not Dana Holgorsen (@FauxHolgorsen) August 6, 2014
He makes a valid point.
Someone at WVU told me today punt returner/QB William Crest could play receiver on this team. We're approaching Bill Brasky territory here.— Mike Casazza (@mikecasazza) August 5, 2014
"WILLIAM CREST IS A JERK!"
"One time I saw him return a punt 102 yards for a touchodwn - HE CAUGHT IT 2 YARDS DEEP AND ACCELERATED IN MID AIR!"
"William Crest would have broken the high school record for touchdown passes .... IF HE HADN'T COST HIMSELF SO MANY POSSESSIONS BY RETURNING PUNTS FOR TOUCHDOWNS."
"WILLIAM CREST COMBINES ELEMENTS OF THE RUN AND SHOOT, ZONE READ AND I FORMATION INTO ONE OFFENSE."
"TO WILLIAM CREST!!!!!"
Holgo on #WVU 4-star freshman QB William Crest returning punts: "I was just doing that to mess with you guys."— Allan Taylor (@AllanTaylorWVU) August 7, 2014
Well played Holgo, well played.
More on Crest: Holgo jokes that catching punts are as difficult as a QB "catching snaps from Pat Eger."— Allan Taylor (@AllanTaylorWVU) August 7, 2014
That's just damn funny. Holgo has been killing these pressers.
Tonight West Virginia fans are furiously emailing me angry over being called the 8th dumbest fan base in America. The column is a year old.— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) August 6, 2014
So we're back to dealing with this crap again, huh? I addressed this last year - just read my column I wrote about this last year and please quit giving this guy the web traffic that puts food on his table. He's a creation of us. He's offspring of the mob.
Just thinking about walking the ManTrip and listening to the crowd chanting "Let's Go, Mountaineers" gives me chills.. Almost there! — Josh Lambert (@J_LambertWVU) August 6, 2014
This just gets me geeked up.........and I like our kicker.
DH says he supports putting more power 5 conference teams on the schedule, however 12 power 5 teams on a schedule is "silly"— Shane Price (@priceisright53) August 7, 2014
But 11....that's perfectly reasonable.
Seriously, this WVU schedule is a joke. They play 2 of the top 3 teams in America in their first 4 games and those are sandwiched around a contest against the FCS runner-up in 2013 (Townson) and going on the road against a very capable Maryland team that waxed the Mountaineers last season.
And that's before you even see October.
The good news is Kansas isn't at the end of the year so there will be a break of sorts (although not really when you consider last year's result) when the Jayhawks come to town. I think that helps. A couple of years ago Jed Drenning wrote a great post over at WVU Sports where he astutely pointed out the Scarlet Knights had been streak-stoppers for WVU:
The Scarlet Knights were always there when the Mountaineers needed to plug a leak in the bow. No fewer than seven times between 1990 and 2003, WVU beat Rutgers to snap a losing streak of two or more games.
That type of stopper has been sorely missing in the Big 12 as Kansas, who would seem most suited to the role, has been placed at the rear of the WVU schedule. Also we don't have back to back road games for the first time in 3 seasons. So we've got that going for us, which is nice.
Still a murderous schedule, though. As tough as any I can remember in the last 25-30 years.
Joe DeForest mentioned Dravon Henry, Jeremy Tyler, and De'Juan Funderburke all battling at FS up and down the depth chart #HailWV— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) August 6, 2014
There has been one word we've heard over and over again from the head coach right on down, and it's DEPTH. Holgo has used the lack of it as a major crutch for his struggles in the Big 12, it's been the rallying cry from the entire coaching staff on the recruiting trail (coded language for COME PLAY RIGHT NOW) and fans grumbled about it plenty as the last two seasons collapsed over the final 7 games. As encouraged as I am to hear that the offense is coming together, the tales of emerging depth and contributing true freshman give me hope that November may not be as ugly as it has been recently.
After playing at Oklahoma State on October 25th, WVU has TCU at home, travels to Texas (assuming Charlie Strong hasn't kicked everyone off his roster by then) has Kansas State at home and finishes at Iowa State. Those are all winnable games for a WVU team that isn't running on fumes and could build the foundation for a hopeful offseason. And if I am to be blunt, given the slaughterhouse of the first 7 games, Dana Holgorsen could very likely be coaching those games to save his job. Whether or not this program has finally built the depth to compete for 3 months of Big 12 football will almost certainly be the difference in those games.
Other conditions being equal, if one force is hurled against another ten times its size, the result will be the flight of the former.— Sun Tzu (@SunTzuSaid) August 8, 2014
My man Sunny Z is picking up what I'm puttin' down on depth, ya dig?
This should be West Virginia's football entrance music from now until the end of time http://t.co/7RA2OzGcC2— Bunkie Perkins (@BunkiePerkins) August 8, 2014
When I first saw this I thought it was another backwoods banjo joke and was about to get all pissy but then I watched the clip and HOLY CRAP IT'S FRICKIN' AWESOME. I'm not saying it would work as entrance music, but you can't convince me there's not a place for some dude pickin' out a badass version of 'Thunderstruck' somewhere in the WVU gameday experience.
And since while we're watching live music, how about this:
In celebration of 20 years together, Wu-Tang Clan performs "Triumph." http://t.co/JsmvlpnVPi— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) August 7, 2014
If you're reading Mike Casazza, the best compliment I can pay you is that Wu Tang lyrics now make me think of your blog. Take that for what it's worth. I'm off to go bomb atomically.......
"Tomorrow Coach Cogdell plans to drape red jerseys on dump trucks to better simulate what the Mountaineers can expect to find against Alabama in live game action."
Speaking of the Tide....
Per reports, previously suspended Alabama Def Linemen Jarran Reed and Brandon Ivory were back at practice today— Jeff Culhane (@jeffculhane) August 7, 2014
Tight ship you're running there, Nicky.
When faced with a fanbase of such superior intellect, one can only shudder.
I'm not done with you either, Tide. I've got a piece running here in the next few days where I lay out why I think the Alabama reign of terror is over. I'm 100% serious, it's like 2,000 words and I put a lot of thought into it. Stop laughing, I'm not kidding. Seriously, stop....OH PISS OFF.
(But no joke, they're done....we might not beat them, but they're done and I'm gonna tell you why)
I view this as God telling us a 2 quarterback system cannot work. Please stay healthy, Clint.
Want to ensure that your darkhorse Heisman candidate QB isn't taken seriously even before the first snap? Put him in a Marshall uniform...but not just any Marshall uniform.........THIS Marshall uniform!
Dana Holgorsen: "You lie in recruiting a bunch. That's just kind of part of it. You become a salesman."— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) August 11, 2014
This got a pretty good bit of run on the Twitters Monday so I figured I'd throw my two cents in. The thing I like most about Holgo - the thing a lot of us like most - is one of his biggest liabilities as a head coach. He seems unwilling or unable to trot out the coachspeak platitudes that have served generations of coaches before him. For some reason his parents raised him to say what he thinks, and while that is an admirable quality many times, it can also pose many problems for a man who's words are consumed at the mass-media buffet of life.
See sometimes he says things like this and they're refreshingly honest:
Dana Holgorsen was asked how tired he was of losing close games. His reply: "Its better than getting your ass kicked!" #WVU— Ty Braenovich (@Tydog1) August 5, 2014
Now the Sabans and Urbans of the world will tell you there's no moral victories and they play to win and blah, blah, blah. But that's bullshit - of COURSE it's better to be in competitive games than to get your teeth kicked in. Which game did you guys out there enjoy more, the Baylor game or the Texas game? And Holgo says it, and that's great. It would be even greater if he were talking about differentiating between 3 losses instead of 8, but still, I like a coach who isn't afraid to acknowledge objective reality.
Same with his statement on recruiting. Anyone who doesn't think recruiting is selling a 17 year old kid on your version of reality - a version which probably often stands in stark contrast to actual reality that it could be classified as an untruth....or LIE...is naive. That's exactly what these guys do and Holgo knows it but maybe he didn't need to say it. I just think he could make his life a lot easier if he took that nanosecond between when a thought forms itself beneath that glorious head of hair and before it comes out of that mouth to shut it down.
Aw hell, who am I kidding anyway. He's not going to change.
Anyway, that's kind of why I like Holgo.— Ben Kercheval (@BenKercheval) August 11, 2014
Me, too Ben. Me, too.
And finally, on a more somber note:
We mourn the loss of our friend Robin Williams, who always made us laugh and smile. pic.twitter.com/UOY8LTjVRA— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) August 11, 2014
I debated whether to include this and almost didn't, but the outpouring of sentiment by folks on Twitter was pretty unique. I think most of us on this medium are of a certain age and Robin Williams was a constant presence throughout our formative years. I remember the first time I heard his stand-up on a cassette tape at Boy Scout Camp and thinking it was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. It was profane and had no business at a scout camp of any kind, but it was so funny the adults were willing to look the other way as long as we didn't blast it. Oddly enough I learned quite a bit about sex, pregnancy, foreign policy, effective deployment of profanity and all sorts of other stuff lfrom that Williams performance. Knowledge that serves me quite well to this day. Here's a link to the first part of that set; it amazingly holds up nearly 30 years later.
He was quite possibly the most talented entertainer of our generation (before you dismiss that as hyperbole think about it - he played teachers, cartoon characters and robots, had the ability to do comedy and drama with equal proficiency, could even sing and was on the short list of greatest stand-up comedians of all time). As someone who grew up watching him maybe I shouldn't have been surprised at how saddened I was to hear of his passing, but I was. So hug the ones you love and watch one of his old movies this week - my personal favorite is Good Morning Vietnam.
Life is short, enjoy it.
Let's end with something a little more uplifting:
It's good to be back.
Let's do this.