Colin Dunlap: Hello and welcome to an on-the-mend version of the WVU football chat. On the mend for a couple reasons. West Virginia is coming off a loss, Noel Devine was a bit banged up in that loss down in Baton Rouge and, least important, yours truly had surgery on Tuesday and is fighting back --- but I'm a tough lad. So, here we go.
WVUaluminAlabama: I live in Alabama and follow the SEC along with supporting WVU religiously as a WVU grad. WVU did well as a first time visitor to Baton Rouge in weathering the storm at 17 - 0 and still having a chance to win. A very good team pulls out the win. WVU is a pretty good team. Only criticism, if we play Devine with the injury, run inside only, not outside where he has to cut up the field (and can't). If you run outside then put in Johnson so you have the opportunity to cut upfield. Trust your number 2 guy or don't run the play the injured guy can't make happen. Advice to Stew; use your us (the team) against the world (media, fans, whoever) mantra, get better and kick some booty the rest of the year, and then beat Florida in our BCS bowl. That should quiet the critics. We have the talent to pull it off with our defense and a maturing QB.
Colin Dunlap: This is a landmark question. First off, longest question in chat history. Second, someone living in SEC-land admitting football exists somewhere else?!?! I am shocked. OK, now to some points, I think that Devine was so banged up, running him inside would have jeopardized his health just as much. And you make a great point --- and a point I have been making all the way back to the preseason: If WVU can't cultivate real backups, especially at the skill positions, it shows a regression (or at least stagnation) in the program. You cannot patchwork in player, you must have a clear and defined No. 2 and even No. 3 at tailback, receiver, QB, etc. Just look at the great programs: It is my contention they win games, sure, because of their starters, but also largely because of players 23-32.
IAM4WVU: Even though Pat Lazear is a senior I do not believe he should be given the starting LB spot because Najae Goode has been playing so well.
Colin Dunlap: Another solid point. Watching Lazear play the limited snaps he did in the LSU game, it was obvious that he wasn't up to full speed. The young man gritted it out, but he was hurt. I am with you; Goode and even Anthony Leonard have played very well this season, much better than I anticipated. Until Lazear can prove that he is 100 back -- which might not be for a month or so, at least -- he should not just be handed his starting role.
gringo: Is wvu the best team in the BEC?
Colin Dunlap: The way this league has played out of conference competition, that isn't much of a claim, but I would have to say yes. After watching the Pitt game against Miami, and then being at the WVU-LSU game, it looked as if West Virginia was a superior team to the Panthers. Now, again, that could all change. And, I know that the offensive line for Cincinnati has been awful, but if they can get that fixed, they can be good. Same with UConn, don't count the Huskies out. And, in the game I watched Louisville play out West, they didn't look half-bad. That Louisville game (at The Ville) could be tougher than WVU believes right now. All that said, today, the final day of this grand month of September, I'd say West Virginia is the best team in the Big East. That, though, as we all know, is subject to change.
Guest: CD, big fan of the blog and overall coverage. For Mountaineer fans stranded in Pittsburgh it's a welcome respite from coverage of that other team.
Colin Dunlap: Who? The Steelers? Thanks.
Frenchy: how did your surgery go? mountaineer nation sends it regards.
Colin Dunlap: Thanks for the kind words. Here's the brief run down. Had a sebaceous cyst in my back -- they thought is was the size of a golf ball. They got in there, was the size of a grapefruit. Luckily, the best doctor in the universe, Guy Stofman, took care of things, but now I have this drain inserted, pulling all the bad stuff out of me. The drain will come out tomorrow or Monday.
Bottom line, thank goodness for the off week. If there was a game this week, I'd be OUT on the Big East injury report, but for the UNLV game, I am PROBABLE.
Rico in MD: In your estimation what is WVU's most difficult remaining game? At Pitt? USF (always close)? Someone else? I can't imagine anyone having a defense as fast as LSU's, particularly in secondary. WVU's defense will keep them in a lot of games.
Colin Dunlap: USF always presents a challenge, but it is one of those Thursday night home games. WVU plays well in those and should fend off Skip Holtz's fellas. The Pitt game is always tough and, as I mentioned before do not overlook the trip to Louisville. In addition, I said at the beginning of the year, the trip to UConn, on a Friday night, will be like the Huskies' Super Bowl. WVU could lose any of those games. They have more talent than all of those teams, but they could win or lose any of those games --- it depends which WVU offense shows up as I am thoroughly convinced this is the best WVU defense in decades.
BillysSweaterVest: How much has the loss of Urban hurt?
Colin Dunlap: I didn't think a whole lot until the LSU game. It seems WVU was never able to throw those "softener" routes, was never able to get things going short in the middle of the field with the passing game. Also, there was an inability, because Clarke was called on to carry the ball, to keep a good blocker in to help block. Urban would have fit that bill. His loss hurt against LSU. But, why rush him back? You need that guy for the conference season.
Eers: Was starting Hogan the right move?
Colin Dunlap: If Bill Stewart was going to take him on the trip, the kid wasn't going down there to look at the Tiger, take pictures of the stadium and have a meal at Chimes. If you take him, you play him. If you play him, you start him.
Now, there is a debate on whether or not Hogan should have been reinstated, but once he was, once he was a member of the team and on that charter flight from Clarksburg to Baton Rouge, you start him, no question.
MountainFolk: How discouraged should we be that WVU went 3-and-out in their final two positions in the fourth quarter?
Colin Dunlap: Geno is human!!!! Seriously, that is something that we all need to remember here after the Marshall heroics --- the young man was starting his fourth collegiate football game. And he was doing it inside of the toughest venues in all of this country. Did Geno (and others) frazzle a bit? Yes. Should people be discouraged? Not really, chalk it up more so to growing pains. For the record, he did line up under the guard on the second to last drive --- something I have seen before in football, but something that demonstrates how maybe the depth of the situation got to a young man a little bit. I'm quite positive he will bounce back, use those last two series' as a positive and move on.
WVU77: What's Stewart's relationship with the media? I think WVU has some of the softest reporters, but it looks like Stewart is mad at them.
Colin Dunlap: I don't really pay attention to the other reporters, I block them out for the most part. I do my job, ask the questions that are pertinent and get what I need. I know this: I can never be questioned about not asking tough questions when needed. Case in point, in the aftermath of the LSU game, I asked about Smith lining up under the guard. Stew said he didn't. I came right back and said, "Are you positive?"
I wrote about this in the blog earlier this week --- perhaps Stew was just under a lot of stress because of how big the LSU game was in scope and was a bit snippy with the media last week. He and I have a brilliant working relationship, though. Quite honestly, that is all I am worried about. He can agree or disagree with what I write, but I know he respects it because it is not agenda laden.
Guest: Whether I agree or not, I believe Stew's job is safe for probably at least another season. Mountaineer nation has been spoiled of late. However, I expect that unless the team starts to play with more consistency in many areas, particularly on offense, he will have to make a change at season's end. Thoughts on who may go and potential replacements?
Colin Dunlap: You mean the same inconsistent offense that has 1515 yards in the first four games? Three out of four times with 400 or more.
Eers: What are your thoughts on UNLV?
Colin Dunlap: They should thoroughly enjoy the $600,000 check they are going to receive from the West Virginia University football program. And, most likely, not much else during their trip to Morgantown.
WVU77: Follow-up. Is there an agenda?
Colin Dunlap: Not from me. Nope. I write the truth. Every single day.
HiHo: Was Bourbon Street fun?
Colin Dunlap: Charleston Daily Mail reporter Mike Casazza and I had to piece our night together through Blackberry photos and stories the subsequent few days that began with, "Oh, yeah, you remember we also ....." or "I think I remember ...."
So, I guess that is a firm "yes" right?
Wally: Why is stew being such a freaking idiot lately with the media?
Colin Dunlap: I don't think he is. Show me any coach who has not had a testy moment with a media member now and again. You know, perhaps it could stem from this --- a current culture where there are too many people "covering" the team. Now, more than ever, more credentials are issued and, to be honest, I'm not seeing a spike in the quality of journalism. You will never convince me that someone holding a FlipCam and asking someone, "what's your favorite color" or "who is going to win the Super Bowl" is a journalist. Part of the culture, and perhaps Stew's short-temper could come from having to answer more questions than college coaches ever have because of an epidemic in this country of over credentialling. In short, too many amateurs.
WVU77: Is this you?
Colin Dunlap: So that is where Tony Caridi went when we lost him walking to the stadium!
Guest: Yes that offense with 1,500 yards against the likes of Coastal Carolina, Marshall (where they looked like very inconsistent save the last 6 minutes with Marshall's prevent defense), and Maryland (where it looked as if we were entirely different team in the 2nd half and would have made it interesting if not for Ryan Clarke).
Colin Dunlap: A fair point, and one well taken. There is a quotient of "the opponent wasn't very good" at play in all of this. But I will say, if Devine is healthy, I think West Virginia beats LSU. Fair?
SheikYbuti: At least you didn't pull your own tooth or wind up with the LSU Tiger in your room ... right?
Colin Dunlap: If this UNLV series was a home-and-home, there is no telling what would happen.
ClarenceOveur: Colin, hope you're feeling better. Speaking of health related issues, any updates on Urban, Jenkins, Devine, Sands, and Lazear?
Colin Dunlap: I saw Urban in uniform at LSU, bet he plays (sparingly) against the Rebs. Jenkins won't be ready is my guess. Sands will fight through it and Lazear will play sparingly as he fights back to full speed. The injury report comes out later. But, it is my thought the UNLV game isn't the real goal with any of these guys -- USF is.
Guest: Fair, and thanks in even larger part to a stellar effort by the D, who unfortunately wore down from being on the field so long in the 2nd half. Guess my real question is that if they sputter in BE play and WVU drops a couple of games, would Johnson and/or Mullen be at risk in your opinion?
Colin Dunlap: Not Mullen, no.
MicrobrewEER: Two parter: A lot has been said about lack of depth at some positions. Do you think that WVU's inability to blow people out the past couple of years has lead to that, because the starters have been called on to player later into these games, and secondly, do you see WVU being able to completely blow somebody out in the near future, maybe even UNLV?
Colin Dunlap: People say style points don't matter. I absolutely, positively disagree when it comes to the final score. If you can hang 66 on someone, you do it --- that's how people all across the country watching those scoreboard shows perk up and notice you. In terms of blowing out the Runnin' Rebels, West Virginia has an opportunity to do so, if Devine is healthy and Geno has a solid day.
Guest: Are you leading the charge for the BE to partner with the Las Vegas bowl? I think we'd happily be the #2 team that goes west for that one, although we'll miss Charlotte.
Colin Dunlap: You would miss Charlotte for Las Vegas? You lost me there, big time. If WVU went to the Las Vegas bowl, I would leave three weeks early to do some "advance work." Translation: Stay at Paris, play roulette, eat at Zeffirino every night, have a few drinks, come to my senses at 4am at O'Shea's doing something stupid. Sleep three hours, rinse, repeat.
Wanny: Is Pitt really out-recruiting WVU or you need not look further than the W-L record to determine that?
Colin Dunlap: The ultimate determinate of any program is W-L record. Has to be. Coming into this season, in the last 5 years, WVU was 27-8 in Big East play, Cincy was 23-12, Rutgers 20-15, Pitt 19-16, USF 17-18, Louisville 16-19, UConn 14-21 and Cuse 4-31.
There you go...people don't remember how many stars some guy at Rivals attaches to some kid's name when they are 17 years old. They remember how many wins a team has.
Guest: Love for Charlotte over Vegas? A clear instance of sarcasm being lost in translation in written form. 4am, the only respectable time to be seen inside O'Sheas!
Colin Dunlap: Hopefully it was sarcasm. I've been at O'Shea's a time or two. Solid "catch up" place when you are down.
SheikYbuti: Who is the next Rick Trickett in the college ranks, and can someone point him out to Oliver Luck? Is the offensive line truly failing to perform to reasonable expectations, and if so, is that more attributable to deficiencies in recruiting or coaching?
Colin Dunlap: I have no idea who the next big time college OL coach is. But, I don't think it is talent right now as much as it is recruiting. Since that class w/ Barclay, has there been a class with really good OL come to Morgantown? Really? That is an area that is a glaring weakness.
Colin Dunlap: Got time for a few more
MountainFolk: Back-up to Wanny's question: Can you win the Big East while at the same time losing in WPIAL recruits? Can the slack be picked up in other places such as Florida?
Colin Dunlap: I think the top end guys, the very best in the WPIAL (Pryor, Dorian Bell, Lucas Nix, Rushel Shell) can play with anyone in the country. But the days of the"other" guys from the WPIAL being among the best in the country are long gone. It is one thing to get the best one, two or three guys from Western Pa...but no longer is the sixth-best guy from here a great player anymore, that just doesn't look like it is the case.
Colin Dunlap: OK.
Thanks all, it has been wonderful. Catch you next week --- same time, same place.