Welcome back everyone. I see the appletinis didn't go to anyone's head. I unfortunately forgot the mix this week so let's just do an open bar.
Smitty, John and Priddy all made it back and this week we welcome Will to our little shenanigan filled discussion. Without further ado, let's get to the questions.
Dana finally conquers the demon that is Charlie Strong, WVU has won two in a row with a trip to Lawrence, Kansas, on the horizon. Are you crowd surfing with Dana this week?
Smitty: Hard not to with that running performance. Bart and I discussed on the podcast that 200 running yards tended to be the magic number against the Longhorns, so 257 certainly gets the job done. I would say that the lack of an efficient passing attack is concerning going forward against tougher Big 12 opponents, but we already lost those games. While KU has started to get the ball moving with Freshman QB Ryan Willis, the Mountaineers should become bowl eligible this Saturday in Larry.
John Radcliff: I'm with Dana. Probably more so because I want stability in the program. But still, I'm with him. More importantly than my opinion, the team seems to be with him. To me, it was one of those games that we had to find a way to win. If the turnover ratio was equal, I don't know that we win that game.
William Hirsch: I'm crowd surfing with Dana. I wasn't able to watch this past Saturday's game due to some unfortunate family circumstance but I have watched every game this year before that. It's amazing the fanbase is in such an uproar over Dana as a head coach as they are now seeing that WVU is a good team when it's not playing powerhouse programs. That being said, the Mountaineers took Oklahoma State to overtime. No small feat. I do question the play calls that are made sometimes but I don't think that's been enough of a reason to have Dana removed.
Brandon Priddy: I'm sitting in the corner nodding with a big smile on my face Mr. Miyagi-style.
It was a rough month for Dana. It was a rough month for people defending Dana. Losing either one of these last two games would have been a borderline disaster, so it was great to see them win both kinda easily. This isn't a perfect team, but don't look now - they've got a great look at an 8 (9?!) win season. When you're playing in one of the two best conferences in America and lost your best defensive player of the last decade tough to be anything but happy with that.
And in the grand tradition of self-promoting rappers everywhere Y'ALL THE NEW RETWEET JUST DROPPED CHECK OUT MY NEW JOINT OVER AT THE SIGNALCALLER
On to the next question! Monday I pondered whether or not Smallwood would leave for the NFL after this year. Tuesday, I ran the numbers and found that he was only 625 yards from the school rushing record. Do you think Wendell will break the record and will he leave for the NFL after this season?
William Hirsch: This all depends on how much Dana Holgorsen wants to utilize Wendell the rest of the way. If he's utilized like he should be and given the ball 30 or more times a game, then he should certainly break the school rushing record and he'll get more looks by NFL scouts. If Dana wants to return to throwing 30 or more times a game and waste a talent like Wendell then he won't break the record and won't get looks from NFL scouts and will likely return for next season. WVU fans should all hope he is utilized properly and is getting NFL attention. That being said, WVU fans should also hope to hear him announce he will return for the 2016 season.
John Radcliff: If I'm a defensive coordinator and look at WVU's last two games I'm forcing someone other that Smallwood to beat me and take my chances that Howard will have a bad game. It's possible that he gets the single season record, but I would imagine the opposing teams are going to be more focused on him. As far as the NFL goes, he's got the talent, but I think WVU's record record this year probably hurts his chances a bit. Through my eyes, he's been the hardest rusher on the team since he got on campus. And while he is very much like Charles Sims in stature and skill set, he doesn't have the national recognition that Sims had before he got to WVU. I think he would get drafted if he left early, but I think his chances of a higher draft status would improve with another year in college.
Brandon Priddy: I actually hit the Smallwood issue pretty hard in the Retweet. He had 24 carries against Texas. He had 22 against Texas Tech. I am 100% OK with those numbers. A running attack of the type that WVU seems to have evolved into relies on a cumulative carry effect. You pound, you pound, you pound and then you exploit when the opponent finally relents. With his speed and burst, Smallwood is perfectly put together to exploit those openings for big gains, but is he in as good a position to do that on carry 31 as with carry 20? How about what he looks like in the 12th game of the season after racking up 30 carries a game for a month?
Holgorsen has two good running backs including one in Rushel Shell who takes a real physical toll on defenders. If you don't think Smallwood's success has some root in Shell taking whacks at the defense I don't know what to tell you.
I think Holgs knows this and is going to be strategic in how he deploys Smallwood, so I wouldn't expect much more than 24-25 carries a game. Doubtful that's enough to make a run at the rushing record, but I'd guess Wendell would rather leave some tread on the tires for the next level - and I GUARANTEE you NFL scouts are watching that too. Lots of evidence that workhorses break down at the next level, so Dana is probably doing him a favor to keep him on a "pitch count" of sorts. As far as going pro I don't know - I'd say a coin flip. Maybe if he has an otherworldly 250 yard game that garners some attention that puts him over the to
Smitty: Nite, I loved your stats breakdown for KU.
If we are talking season-long stats. I feel like any extra yardage that Smallwood picks up against the Jayhawks above his season's 124yds/game average is going to be negated by K-State's decently stingy rushing defense. If we assume Smallwood just stays on track (including a bowl game), he's gonna end up with 1616 yards on the year. While that's a helluva year, that still puts him third behind ya boys Slaton and Cobourne.
As for the NFL question, I'm worried that they look at this TD shortage of his as a negative considering the size of the holes he's been given. I wouldn't be surprised if he left, but it might be wise to give it another go and rack up some points along as yardage numbers.
Switching to roundball for a minute, as Smitty is liken to say, Shooty Hoops is back! What is your expectation for this season?
Smitty: Ahhh, shootyhoops. One of our greatest pastimes not named football or binge drinking. It's tough to see one of the best point guards to ever play in Morgantown move on especially when Juwan Staten leaves as well. (Kidding.) Honestly, even with West Virginia dismantling both of their first opponents rather well, ball-handling is a huge question mark for this season. Jevon Carter looks much more the part coming out of this offseason than I expected, but the James Madison game revealed a problem for this Mountaineer squad: pressure. Ironically, the West Virginia back court did not respond well to the Dukes coming out to meet the ball early and Big 12 teams WILL see that on tape. There will be plenty of teams that will not be able to replicate some of the success that JMU had considering they shot the lights out and still lost by double digits, but that doesn't mean it is not a concern. All in all, West Virginia is a good team. Good teams beat bad teams, occasionally knock off better teams, and ultimately make the tournament. I see the Mountaineers getting their 27th NCAA appearance and possibly getting another Sweet 16 depending on the seeding.
John Radcliff: I expect a similar result, but it remains to be seen if we can compete with the upper echelon of teams in the Big 12. That's where the majority of our losses came from last year. I mean, a third of our losses were to Baylor. Guard play is going to be key (duh). If Carter and Miles are able to step up, it should be another good season and a trip to the tournament.
William Hirsch: I expect Press Virginia to have another great season. I think another trip to the Sweet Sixteen is doable. Yes, we lost Juwan but most of the team returns and I'd expect them to return having improved in the offseason. Last season, the Mountaineers did so well with Jonathan Holton playing just minutes because he had foul issues. If Huggins can get more minutes from Holton, the rest will fall into place. We all know what Devin Williams is capable of. I've been hearing Esa Ahmad is quite the player. I haven't been able to see much of the team so far this season. I only saw a few minutes of the JMU game.
Brandon Priddy: I'll confess I haven't quite made the hoops transition yet or seen this team play, so my opinion won't be terribly informed. Having said that with all the returners from last year, the table seems set for a nice season. The rules committee didn't do them any favors with the changes, but I'd say they could still finish in the top 3 in the conference and maybe make a darkhorse charge at a KU team that didn't look horribly impressive last night. I'd say reasonable expectation is a trip to the tourney and anything past the first weekend is gravy.
(and hey, how about those Kentucky Wildcats putting it on Duke Tuesday night!)
Last question. The latest college football playoffs are out and once again the Big 12 has no teams in the final 4. Oklahoma State is ranked #6, Oklahoma is ranked #7. Jeff Long said that the largest discussion came about teams 5-7, meaning that Notre Dame was a clear cut #4. Joel Klatt spit some venom this week towards the playoff committee.
The only criteria that has remained constant for this committee is you better not play in the Big 12— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) November 18, 2015
Ole Miss was IDLE coming off home loss to Arkansas and they jump to 22...while TCU loses their Heisman caliber QB & wins...dropped 3 spots— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) November 18, 2015
The Big 12 has only appeared in the Final 4 rankings twice in the entire iteration of the rankings.
A - Do you think that there is a Big 12 bias?
B - Will the Big 12 have a representative in the playoffs?
C - If yes, who will that team be?
D - If no, will the omission cause the Big 12 to expand?
William Hirsch: A) There is and I think it's much in part because the committee is looking past how deep the Big 12 is. Anyone can lose any week. The Big 12 shouldn't be penalized for that. If anything, it should be awarded for that.
B) Only if Oklahoma State goes undefeated.
C) The Cowboys.
D) I don't believe it will.
Brandon Priddy A) I think it's more a pro-SEC / ND bias and the Big 12 ends up paying the price. The frustrating thing is at least the SEC spent a decade earning that bias - what in the hell exactly has Notre Dame done?
B) Yes, unless they all beat each other. The conference has plenty of good teams, gotta believe one of them will rise up.
C) Oklahoma State. They're just doing everything right and seem like the team we could look up in a month and say "damn, we didn't realize how good they are."
D) I'd like to say no, but back-to-back screwings will be pretty hard to ignore. I'd rather see a full-court PR press on the playoff committee. Question the representatives charged with judging the conference, question the makeup of the group, everything. If they screw the same conference twice in a row they're pretty clearly making a statement and last I checked they were charged with picking the best 4 teams, not making statements.
Smitty: A) It's hard to imagine that there isn't a Big 12 bias when Jeff Long comes out and says specifically that they award teams for being more balanced in structure. Personally, I don't give a damn if a team is balanced if they can score 77 and only allow you 48. Winning is winning and I'm rather surprised that the committee would be less inclined to include high-powered offenses when way every other sport is going out of its to maximize scoring.
B) I disagree with Will in thinking only it happens only if the Pokes goes undefeated. I believe that the committee has OU placed where they are specifically in case the Sooners win out. You can absolutely argue about how bad the Texas loss is, but it's not like there isn't a precedent set on conference champion blue bloods and singular bad losses.
C) Oklahoma Sooners. They are playing the best football in the conference right now and that momentum is as crucial in this CFP era as anything else.
Priddy: To further Smitty's point this is the portion of our show where I remind everyone that the biggest single reason the playoff even came to be was the 2012 BCS snorefest between LSU and Alabama that netted 21 points (21-0), featured just a single touchdown and more significantly the worst ratings of any BCS championship game. Those statistics were related. The people have spoken.
John Radcliff: A)I think there is a bit of a bias. But not necessarily against the Big 12. There's a bias for traditional powers. I think if you made side by side comparisons of teams but hid their names Iowa would be ranked a lot closer to where Houston is that Clemson. To a lesser degree, the same would be true of Ohio St. I can't pick on Notre Dame or Alabama too much. Even though they both have a loss, they both have very respectable schedules. However, dropping TCU three spots after a win, no matter how sloppy is something that would never happen to a team like Ohio State or Iowa. If you don't believe me, look at how they fared after sloppy wins.
B+C)We should. If Oklahoma or Oklahoma State win out, one of them should be in. I don't have a real gauge on who it will be, though.
D) Expanding isn't something that happens overnight and who are you going to get? If there were attractive teams out there to be had, I think we would have pulled the trigger already. If it's possible, maybe we could petition the NCAA to have a championship game with only 10 teams in the league. The NCAA does crazy shit all the time and maybe it's time to cash in that Oliver Luck association.