Just wrapped up writing a story that should appear in Tuesday's Post-Gazette. Got to say, it is downright scary looking at what LSU has done at Tiger Stadium at night --- and for West Virginia's sake, they better hope they aren't caught in a careful-what-you-wish-for vortex with wanting to go to Baton Rouge and play this Saturday night game. Again, the numbers are scary.
Anyhow, onto the Q & A where I, and I alone, make the decisons here; the tail doesn't wag this old dog.
Send me some question at: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/wvu/questions/qaform.asp
QUESTION: Is Noel Devine getting too many carries? I'm concerned that they may be overusing him, and he won't be fresh by the end of the season.
- Nat in Weston
COLIN DUNLAP: I give up. I really do. Last year at this time, upon the return from Auburn, the coolest game in town was the "bash-Jeff-Mullen-for-not-getting-Noel-the-ball-enough" game. Remember how that game was played? You talk and talk and talk (and talk some more) on that Tony Caridi radio show about how the offensive coordinator was a dolt because he didn't use Devine enough. Now, after considering everything, Jeff Mullen is pumping the rock to Devine with much more regularity and he is still being called on the carpet. Mullen has a horse, is using him, and you are still not happy. I don't know what will make people happy, I just don't. How about this --- we set up a suggestion box outside the Puskar Center and during the week everyone drops a slip of paper into it with only a number written on it. Just one vote per household please (and they must be in by 2 p.m. Fridays). I am putting Charleston Daily Mail beat writer Mike Casazza in charge of retrieving that box each week. On Friday evenings, we will all gather at Mario's Fishbowl to have a vote-tabulation party where Mike's wife, Erinn, will be in charge of counting. Afterward, we will call Jeff Mullen and alert him as to how many carries Devine is permitted to get on Saturday.
Another one from Nat in Weston:
QUESTION: The secondary looked shaky without Brandon Hogan. When can we expect him back?
CD: Ohhhhhh the drama. I am sure that topic will be brought up in Bill Stewart's Tuesday afternoon news conference. It was my initial thought that Brandon Hogan would be out until the South Florida game. But after seeing him on the sideline at the Maryland game, I am starting to think he could be back sooner. And let me state again, for the record: I think Bill Stewart made absolutely the correct decision in not immediately throwing the guy off the team for good. Hogan is a case where the West Virginia football family is about the only family the kid has --- cutting him loose and shipping him back to Manassas would have been detrimental to his life's development.
QUESTION: Considering the showing of the Big East thusfar, especially UConn and Cincy, and assuming Cincy doesn't beat Oklahoma this week, how vital is it for conference credibility that WVU have a good showing in Baton Rouge and, to a lesser degree, Pitt beat Miami?
- Ray in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
CD: I know the coaches stick to this "we root for each other" stuff all the time when talking about the other teams in the Big East, but I have never fully subscribed to that. I think they focus on their team, and their team only: Butch Jones doesn't care what happens in Baton Rouge this week, Bill Stewart doesn't care what happens at Paul Brown Stadium this week and Dave Wannstedt's sole focus is on Randy Shannon bringing some Hurricanes up North to Heinz. That's it. In terms of conference credibility, there are a couple ways to look at things: Do you look at it top-to-bottom, as in, are the bad teams in the conference not terrible? Or, do you look at it in terms of how good the very best teams are? It was like those years USC was extraordinary. The rest of the PAC-10 wasn't very good, but that got swept under the rug because the guys from L.A. were among the best teams -- if not the best team -- in college football. There are truly a few ways to look at it.
QUESTION: I heard you on the radio in Clarksburg doing an interview. Why don't you think Cole Bowers is a Division I lineman?
- Jim in Fairmont, W.Va.
CD: Jim, thanks for listening -- I do a hit every Thursday at 4 p.m. down there. But, listen a little closer, please. I never, not once, said Cole Bowers isn't a Division I lineman. Again, never. Not once. What I said is that Bowers has yet to show that he will be the kind of player who can be a difference-maker on an O-Line at a BCS Conference program that hopes to contend for a conference -- and national -- title. And, that's the kind of program West Virginia has. From what I've seen of him so far, he must get better (a lot better) if he is the kind of guy you truly hang your hat on of you are a team like West Virginia. In fairness, the kid is young and a tremendously hard worker from what I can gather, so he could make advances and improve. As it stands now, I won't budge; I question his abilities at a top-25, major BCS-conference school.
QUESTION: Is Bradley Starks playing now as a decoy? I wouldn't compare him to Wes Lyons, because Lyons never had a multicatch game in his life. OK maybe 1 or 2 but that's all.
- Brad in Hampton, Va.
CD: Oh I don't know. Both Wes Lyons and Bradley Starks seem allergic to making big plays. There is one thing Starks has going for him that Lyons does not --- at least he still has chances to find what has been ailing him and get it cleared up. Lyons left Morgantown without ever being able to do that (although he did have a nice catch in the Backyard Brawl along the sideline last season).
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