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Syracuse - West Virginia Postgame Chat With Mountainlair

He has this picture on his site for good reason, even though it's an old logo.
John Radcliff, talented creator of Mountainlair, correspondent over at the AOL’s FanHouse, is a West Virginia fan as well as a knowledgeable football aficionado, therefore we had to get his reactions after the game about how it went, and what exactly is up with his team this year.

1. Orange::44: Syracuse just couldn't manage to win the game, but be honest... you were worried about it most of the afternoon right?

JR: I think the booing fans at Mountaineer Field spoke for me. It's hard to look past how bad we played, but Syracuse came in with a good game plan and looked like they wanted to win, where West Virginia played with almost no emotion. If I don't say it anywhere else, you guys should have won that game.

2. Orange::44: Curtis Brinkley ripped off 144 yards against the West Virginia defense. Is that troubling you, or do you think he is actually just a talented back?

JR: First off, he's talented. He hit the holes at full speed and made people have to want to tackle him. Yards after first contact was most impressive. At some point, I will blame everything on the offense, though. Failure to convert on third down time and time again put the WV defense back on the field. You can't do that and expect your defense to shut anyone down. That's not to take anything away from the SU offense, because they played inspired ball, and obviously controlling the clock was part of the plan. We've seen it before and we'll see a lot more of it as the season goes along if WV's offense doesn't carry the load.

3. Orange::44: What is the deal with Pat White?

JR: He got his bell rung against Rutgers, and admitted that he doesn't remember anything about that game. Stew thought he would play up until Thursday evening. He's expected to be fine by the Auburn game (fingers crossed).

4. Orange::44: What are the reasons for West Virginia's troubles so far and how would you fix the team for the remainder of the season?

JR: The offensive coordinator has almost completely abandoned anything up the middle. He's calling too many bubble screens and stretch plays. People aren't going to surrender the perimeter plays if they have no reason to guard the middle of the field. I'd start off by running up the middle and trying one of those crazy crossing patterns (I say crazy because we never do). The sad thing is when we run up the middle, we get 3-4 yards a pop. And where I come from, that's a victory for the offense. As bad as it's been this year, we still have the same five offensive linemen we had last year. They didn't forget how to block. It would be nice to let them tee off on someone and get lathered up. I honestly think it would open all the stretch plays, etc. up. We need to get White or Brown out on the perimeter and give them the option to run or pass. Remember when SU used to run that option pass play where McNabb et al would fake the dive and run a couple steps down the line, then drop back? It confused the shit out of everyone because they had to make a choice whether to come up to defend the run or drop back in coverage. We have to have something like that in our play book. Right? It would also be nice if they didn't ask the offense to do things they aren't used to. One thing Rod talked about was playing fast. He didn't mean running 100 miles an hour. He meant knowing what you have to do and doing it. It's a matter of knowing where you are supposed to be as opposed to having to think about it. If you have to think, you're late. It looks like a lot of guys are thinking rather than reacting.

5. Orange::44: Who in your mind is the most talented player on West Virginia?

JR: Pat White. He has all the talent in the world and he's shown in the past that he can take the team on his shoulders and carry them. He's at least an average passer, but better when you don't ask him to sit in the pocket. He's an incredible runner and he's a lot tougher than any 185 pound guy I know. Like anyone else, he needs to be put in situations he can succeed in. I don't think he's been put in too many winnable situations this year.

6. Orange::44: What are your honest opinions of the Syracuse team so far this season?

JR: This was a different team than the one that played Penn St. It was a lot like the team that played Pitt. Up and down, though. I know it's hard to get max effort every week, but if they could be the team we saw Saturday more often, you might not be looking for a new coach. It's funny in a sense, because all those quotes I read of Greg Robinson about "flashes" and "want to" materialized Saturday. They didn't look like a team that had only won one game. Brinkley and Dantley both stood out to me. The line did a good job of opening hole and pass protecting. Not too many dropped balls. I can't gauge the defense, because they weren't tested by WVU in any sense I'm used to. Overall, I think this is a different team in the hands of a coach that expects and demands success. Greg doesn't strike me as that type of guy.

7. Orange::44: Finally, what are your overall thoughts on the Big East Conference as a whole and how do you see the Big East doing come Bowl time?

JR: Down year. I mean, it's good for some teams that there really isn't a dominating team in the league this year. It gives everyone a shot. But it hurts our rep around the rest of the country. I think people were almost ready to be concerned with us. But the big teams aren't dominating anyone out of conference. More often, we're losing, and to non-BCS schools. It's a transition year at best, and a sign of things to come at worst. There hasn't been a lot of talk about the new commish and the direction the conference will go in. But we need a couple solid top 25 teams, and we don't have anything near that at this point.

Thanks to John for talking with us hear at Orange::44. I’ll be appearing at the Mountainlair tomorrow with some answer to questions he posed to me so look for that and I’m sure I’ll post a link here. Also, look for more joint ventures between the Mountainlair and Orange::44 in the future regarding Big East football and basketball.

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