Lots going on today; a day after Bill Stewart and Mike Casazza had a wonderful exchange toward the tail end of the coach's Tuesday news conference. Honestly, if you missed it, go find it online somewhere. It was a 'Who's On First' sort of moment. I wanted to stand up and shout, "second base!" but didn't have the heart to.
Anyhow, here is something else to chew on, an installment of the Q&A....remember, if you want to send questions, do it here:http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/wvu/questions/qaform.asp
And off we go ...
QUESTION: Who would get your nod for the Mountaineers' most improved player this year? There seem to be a lot of good candidates.
- Andrew in Upper St. Clair, Pa.
COLIN DUNLAP: I like what Stedman Bailey has done at times, same thing with Bradley Starks. And you cannot ignore the improvement made by Anthony Leonard -- the guy might be playing as well on defense as anyone. But, if I have to pin it on just one guy, it would have to be Terrence Garvin. he has a team-leading 57 tackles and has grown, exponentially back at that spur safety position. It is strange, in his write-up in the media guide heading into the year, it says: "has a chance to be an important contributor ..." Garvin got that chance, and what he has done with it has been tremendous, and to most, unexpected.
QUESTION: It's been open season for criticism of our OL this year, and for good reason. Yet how much of the offensive inconsistency this year is due to our RB's not hitting the intended hole and bouncing the play outside instead? Of course, if a hole isn't there it isn't there and that is an OL problem. But it seems to me that our tailback needs to be running "north and south" and punishing the defense more than we are seeing.
I have long felt that we really miss the classic, 200 pound tailback in our offense to hit it up in there and shoulder more of the load; and hopefully set up one of the little guys to pop a big one.
Ryan Clarke is a fullback and not a tailback. Noel Devine is really a wingback/flanker/slotback type and should not be expected to carry it 20 times a game. Moving Tavon Austin next year to TB is a mistake and we will waste a major weapon by doing that.
I was very encouraged by the emergence of Shawne Alston and perhaps he is a guy who can give us a new set of options and opportunities. Your thoughts?
- Chris in Philadelphia, Pa.
CD: Thanks for the question, it was a good one. Here you go:
- The offensive line shortcomings don't come down, that much, to coaching. They come down much more to talent. Again, after Don Barclay, show me a guy who even has the potential right now to be mentioned as an all-Big East candidate. The talent simply isn't there --- there have been too many recruiting misses along the line. You can't make chicken salad ....
- Ryan Clarke is a nice change of pace, third-down guy, I agree with you. He is not an every down runner.
- I disagree with Devine, to a degree. Until he got hurt this season against LSU, he was toting the rock for this team more than he ever had. And, the play that eventually knocked him out was a play that came out of bounds. Were the carries weighing on him? Maybe. But, if you have a horse like that, use him. That is what the offense started to do this year and it seemed to be working (to a degree) early-on.
- As for Alston, he looked good the other day. But, please, it was Cincinnati -- their defense was awful. Can he eventually be good? Surely he could be. But I want to see him gain more than 75 yards against a defense as porous as the Bearcats' before I anoint him the next standout tailback. And, also, I agree that Austin should stay outside, but the situation might dictate he gets some carries next season.
QUESTION: I hate to trash a kid trying hard but Jeff Braun is not very good. I sometimes wonder how bad his backup is that Braun gets to start.
- Steve in Fairmont, W.Va.
CD: My thoughts on Jeff Braun are this: Matt Timmerman is a better football player. And we will also see what happens when -- and, well, if -- Quinton Spain (who is redshirting this season) decides to get in the physical shape needed to make a difference for this football program.
Get all your questions to me at this Q&A...send a bunch if you'd like: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/wvu/questions/qaform.asp
Don't forget the chat today (Thursday) at 1 p.m.: http://www.post-gazette.com/chat/