So here is Part II of the Q&A session with Mountainlair, a West Virginia blog. This set of responses is structured around the West Virginia defense as the first part of the Q&A discussed the West Virginia offense. We also thought we would lighten the mood up with a few questions about the upcoming game "atmosphere" in Boulder. Thanks again to Mountainlair for the responses.
The Ralphie Report (TRR): Who should Buff fans be worried about on the WVU defensive side of the ball? Who is going to be the pass rushing threat, the linebacker who will haunt Darrell Scott and the cornerback who will draw WR Josh Smith?
Mountainlair (ML): You should keep you eyes on Morty Ivy at linebacker. If he's having a good game, you aren't. As far as a pass rushing threat, in the 3-3-5, it can be anybody. But most likely, not one of the defensive linemen. WVU brings pressure from a safety blitz and will drop off one of the linebackers to cover that zone. If you pick up the blitz, you will have a great opportunity to pass all day long. Our best cover corner is probably Ellis Lankster, but that isn't really saying much. To this point in the season no one has really shown the ability to shut down the opponent's main receiving threat.
TRR: We keep hearing the defensive unit is young and haven't played with a lot of emotion, will the ship get righted?
ML: I expect it to! If it doesn't, it's going to be a long season. In order for the 3-3-5 to work, we have to stop the run. That's been the one area the defense has always shined at. Forcing teams to become one dimensional. That has always been helped in the past by the offense scoring at will. It all goes together. Until the ship gets righted on the offensive side of the ball, the defense is going to struggle.
TRR: I was at the Oklahoma v. West Virginia Fiesta Bowl and was amazed at the speed of the defensive line and linebackers that completely embarrassed the Sooners... what has changed from this year to last year?
ML: Experience. Eight starters are gone from last year's defense. Another reason the defense seems to be off to a bad start is that they seem to be thinking too much. Back on their heels not knowing what to do. Last years defense wasn't always great, but they played at a million miles an hour and forced teams into mistakes. That isn't the case this year.
TRR: Are you worried about the Colorado Buffaloes?
ML: Absolutely! Dan Hawkins got his signature win last year, and I fully expect this team to come together at some point this year and start to become a force in the Big 12. I just hope it isn't this week. I know you've had some issues with offensive linemen as far as suspensions and injuries. I think once Darrell Scott gets some blocking your offense is going to murder some people. It will open up the passing game and give teams too much to cover.
TRR: Will a lot of West Virginia fans be making the trek to Boulder this weekend? How do you think the ultra liberal nation that is Boulder will co-mingle with the folks from Morgantown? Should be an interesting combination.
ML: I would expect about 5-7K WVU fans. We travel very well for such a small state. Being fairly liberal myself, I don't know that it will be much of an issue. Until the last two elections, WV always voted democrat. We're down to earth people for the most part. We only really seem to have problems when we play a rival.
TRR: What is the stereotype of Boulder and CU in Mountaineer nation?
ML: I don't really know that there is one. I was out here this past spring on business for a month and fell in love with the area. At least in Conifer, there are quite a few hillbillies. I think we look at this as a great place to migrate to. Hey, if John Denver liked it.....
TRR: I have to ask you...Do you believe in oxygen? Because Bill Stewart doesn't and we were just wondering if he had some super powers or does that apply to all West Virginia fans?
ML: My sinuses are killing me right now. I don't know what his plan is, or if it will work. But if it does, I need a copy of that memo.
TRR: Will there be an Erin Andrews-Pat White kiss #2 or are we going for second base Thursday night?
ML: I totally missed that last year. With her wanting to be taken seriously, I think she will avoid any of those "type" of moments this year. Otherwise, all she will be is eye candy with a microphone.
TRR: What is your prediction for the game on Thursday night?
ML: Shootout! 45-42 WVU