Hello Buffs nation. Tonight we are bringing you something we are very excited about and hope to continue in the future with the rest of the Colorado Buffaloes opponents hosted blogs. We have asked mountainlair, a West Virginia Mountaineers blog, to answer about 16 questions ranging from what players to watch for on the Mountaineers squad to how the West Virginia fans will co-mingle with the Colorado Buffalo fans. John, the writer for the mountainlair, has made his way out to Colorado for the game and took some time from his "mountain retreat" to answer a few questions for us. This post with be the first of two parts today's post discussing the general feeling surrounding the Mountaineers' team and the view of their offense. We will feature the other half of the questions tomorrow along with our preview of the West Virginia defense. If you haven't checked out our review of the West Virginia offense, go ahead and check it out. That being said...lets get the Q&A going.
Mountainlair (ML): Drinks 1, Blogger 0
I'm writing this from the comfort of my mountain retreat in Conifer, CO. I fully expected to be able to get back to you before my trip, but you already know that didn't happen. Then the drinks flowed like a mountain stream yesterday and I find myself another day behind. And just so you know, it is freaking freezing out here!!! I left 90% humidity and 90 degree days to be welcomed by what would seem to be the middle to late fall at 8,000 feet above sea level. Now that the mood is set, on with the Q&A...
The Ralphie Report (TRR): First things first, what is the mood like right now in Morgantown and around the Mountaineer Nation? I have read a lot of negative publications and the message boards pronouncing this a failed year already. What are your thoughts?
ML: The band wagon fans have jumped off. The true fans are upset at the lack of intensity that was the M.O. of this team. The lack of zone-read option plays is a real head scratcher. I/we were expecting a passing game to augment the rushing attack, but it seems to this point that the focus has been on the passing game, and the running game is a decoy to set up the pass.
I don't feel like the season is lost. Starting this week, WVU has a great chance to rebound against a quality opponent. The lack of a front runner in the Big East makes every goal outside of a National Championship game still attainable. The defense is going to come together at some point, and you can't expect the offense to continue to this level of poor play. I don't have a link, but the coaches understand that they need to get back to running the football. I won't write the season off until I hear us accepting an invitation to the International Bowl in Toronto.
Continue reading after the jump...
TRR: How is Bill Stewart being perceived right now? How about Rich Rodriguez?
ML: He's having to answer a lot of questions about his ability to run this team. There's a lot of second guessing his hire. But he's at his best when the chips are down, and I fully expect him to turn things around.
As for RichRod, it's not so much as how we perceive him as how we enjoy the failure that his first year is getting off to at Michigan. I think he showed his class with that fish hand shake he gave Weis after the Notre Dame game.
TRR: How competitive will the Big East be this year? Is a lot riding on WVU and USF to really carry the league this year with Rutgers looking horrible?
ML: The Big East is going to be awful this year. If QB Dustin Grutza wouldn't have broken his leg in the Oklahoma game, I was ready to concede the Big East to Cincinnati. That's not a knock on head coach Brian Kelly and the Bearcats, just a statement about the rest of the conference. I don't see UConn, Rutgers, Syracuse, Pitt, or Louisville having any say in the championship. It really is a three team race, and most likely comes down to the WV-USF game at the end of the season. But even if USF and WVU have 10+ win seasons, I think the reputation of the conference is already tainted and it will take a couple more years like the last three to get the perception back up to respectability.
TRR: To say we are scared to death for the Devine/White combination to roll into Boulder would be and understatement, what can we expect from them and how would you grade the offensive performance so far this year? Does West Virginia have any threats at wide receiver?
ML: West Virginia is going to try to run the ball this week. They got away from their bread and butter the first two weeks, and that can't continue. Because of the lack of a commitment to running the ball, I would grade them at a C- so far. There's too much experience and talent for this offense to perform the way they have to this point. Look for Arlic Arnett down the middle on play action if WVU is able to establish a running game. Tito Gonzalez to a lesser extent. Jock Sanders is every bit as good as Darius Reynaud was last year in the slot. If he gets the ball in space, he's very dangerous.
TRR: I know Bill Stewart has vowed to get back to what made West Virginia great, more Pat White running the ball. Why did Stewart ever go away from what West Virginia did last year and do you think if they go back to the belly option offense, all will be well in Morgantown?
ML: A lot of our success running the ball last year was aided by Owen Schmitt, either as a third option or as a lead blocker. He gave defenses a lot to worry about. Someone is going to have to fill that role before you see WVU running 450 yards a game again. He was right to add more passing in a sense because he knew he didn't have that third option. But I think they went about it the wrong way. When you spread a defense out on the corners, the last thing you want to do is run outside without an inside option. And that seems to be what WVU has done so far. Not much between the tackles. So yeah, an inside running game would help to open everything else up. That and getting White on the edge with a run pass option should be a no brainer, but we haven't seen it yet.
TRR: How has the loss of stud FB Owen Schmitt affected the Mountaineers this year? How mad are you that Reynaud left to go to the NFL and didn't even get drafted?
ML: I've covered Owen Schmitt above, but Reynaud and DE Johnny Dingle both leaving early and not getting drafted was the last bit of bad advice RichRod gave those guys. We could have used them both and they probably would have benefited from another year in college.
TRR: Thanks to John again from the mountainlair. Check back with us tomorrow night for the defensive and the non-football related questions tomorrow. I think this is some great inside information so if you liked it, go back to the top and press the Yahoo!Buzz button to "buzz up" this article. Go Buffs!