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By Colin Dunlap | 11 a.m. Wednesday
QUESTION: I have generally been very pleased with coach Stewart's recruiting thus far. Tyler Urban, Ryan Clarke, Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Shawne Alston, Josh Jenkins have all made significant contributions as young players. Other players recruited seem to fit the program's future needs. One need that WVU seems to struggle to fill is along the defensive line. I don't mean to knock our current players, but it seemed like UConn's QB had all day to complete those crossing routes. What can WVU do to improve its pass rush? Is this a recruiting priority this year (last Year)? And please don't use Finau in the answer. Good teams need more than one recruit for a need.....
Joe Gansor, Franklin, Va.
DUNLAP: First, before I get into the younger kids, I hope you have noticed the play of Chris Neild all season. He has been tremendous. He has been a guy, in the 3-3-5, who has provided a very good pass rush and forced the quarterback to move time and time again. In my estimation, if someone asked me for a defensive MVP right now, Neild would be the runaway winner.
To me, you touched on some very young players, but you left out some key components to the Mountaineers' future. While I know the staff is actively recruiting guys for the front, how about waiting to see what happens with the cultivation of talent already in Morgantown before you pass total judgment. Julian Miller (pictured, above), who has shown brilliant flashes, is only a sophomore. Larry Ford is a junior and has played well at times and how can you not be excited about what could become of Jorge Wright, he's a freshman who is still learning how to play college football and I think, once his knowledge of the game grows even more, he'll be very good.
So, to you Joe, I say relax and be a little patient.
QUESTION: I was watching that agenda having sports network and saw one of their top college football analysts, let's call him McShay, say that the Big East is the most underrated conference in the country and "better than you think." He mentioned the big time games between WVU, Pitt, and Cinci as somewhat of a conference playoff. Do you think that WVU, if they win out, could make substantial jumps with those two games being on Friday night national television? Is the top 5 attainable?
Robert Fisher, Pittsburgh, Pa.
DUNLAP: A good call on your part about those games being beamed into a lot of homes. And, actually, I am working on a story for Friday about this very topic - about how there is a heightened sense of growth and awareness that can be provided for teams that play these Thursday/Friday night games. All that said, though, we must remember one thing --- the national media has an absolute, unabashed, undeniable love affair with the SEC.
So, with that said, if you are asking me if a one-loss Big East team will get ranked higher than a one-loss SEC team, the answer, in my estimation at least, is - in the human polls at least -- unequivocally a big "no."
Remember one thing though, the "winner" of that playoff system you described, if it is Pitt or West Virginia, would indeed have a loss, but it would be an out of conference loss, so they would still go to the BCS bowl.