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Getting To Know The West Virginia Mountaineers: Q&A with The Smoking Musket

The Ralphie Report sat down with the fantastic West Virginia blog, The Smoking Musket, for a quick Q&A on Thursday's matchup between the Colorado Buffaloes and the West Virginia Mountaineers. We talked about the loss of Pat White (which seems to anger West Virginia fans that the rest of the nation keeps asking about him), West Virginia fan expectations for the team this year, Bill Stewart and many other topics. Go Buffs!

FSU logoThe current line for the game this Thursday is hovering around 17.5 points. Last year, West Virginia was 3 point favorites in Boulder so a somewhere along the line Colorado has certainly regressed from a year ago. But the main question is this West Virginia team better overall compared to last year even with the loss of QB Pat White?

 FSU logoPatrick White is gone, Mountaineer Nation is over it, I just wish the rest of the country would get over it too. 
I started to type "it is impossible for a team to improve while losing the best player in the program history" but I have reconsidered that answer.  Overall, this offense is much better than last year.  All of the Mountaineer's skill position players have a better grasp of their responsibilities and (offensive coordinator) Jeff Mullen is putting them in positions to make big plays.
While Jarrett Brown is no Patrick White, he has NFL talent but needs to learn to manage a game better.  We are hoping the turnovers that occurred in our games against ECU and Auburn were blips on the screen and not the start of a bad trend. 

see the rest of the interview after the jump...

 FSU logoWhat are the expecations for this year's West Virginia team? Many must feel that West Virginia let one slip away against the Auburn Tigers but looking at the schedule, the game against Cincinnati looks to be the main competition separating the Mountaineers from a Big East championship and a BCS bowl game depending on South Florida's progression. Is it BCS bowl or bust this year?

FSU logoExpectations are a national championship every year.  Expecting anything less than that as a program means you are in a sorry state.  However, if we don't win one the Mountaineers' season is not a "failure," it just did not live up to expectations. BCS or bust? No, but we should be in a BCS game when all is said and done.
Cincinnati is the team to beat right now in the Big East but that could change in the blink of an eye.  It should be an interesting finish.

FSU logoWe hear a lot about QB Jarrett Brown to a point that it sounds like West Virginia's offense is better than it was with Pat White because Brown seems to have more success throwing. Are you a believer in that statement? Talk about Jarret Brown as a quarterback and what we can expect to see?

FSU logoJarrett Brown (JB) is not a better player than Patrick White but that is nothing to be ashamed of because White was the best player in our program's history.  JB is probably better suited for this offense, though.  He is a more prototypical pocket passer because of his size.
JB has a ton of arm strength, is very elusive for a man his size and has shown the ability to move through his progressions to find an open man.  Recently, however, that open man has sometimes been the opposing teams CB but I don't see that trend continuing.  I personally love JB's ability but he needs to show that he can eliminate the mistakes and consistently make smart decisions.

Expect to see him throw for 250+ yards,  2 TD's and accumulate 75 + rushing yards.

FSU logoIt seems that West Virginia fans still have their issues with Bill Stewart. Like last year coming into the Colorado game, there is a desire to see the carries for RB Noel Devine increase with less passing from Brown. Against Colorado, the passing game was non existent a year ago because Stewart seemed to want to answer the naysayers, only throwing the ball 14 times for 43 yards. What are your thoughts on Bill Stewart and do you expect the Mountaineers to predominately run the ball this week as the Buffs have shown little resistance up front? 

FSU logoI love Bill Stewart (HCBS)!  I do not see why they would not run the ball consistently against the porous run defense of Colorado.  Having said that, I would also expect to see 25 or so pass attempts.  HCBS was still learning the ropes last year and looked like an Alzheimer's patient at times on the sideline.  It is a new year and a better HCBS.  Don't expect him to give you the game this year.

FSU logoLike most teams, we always hear about the offense of the Mountaineers but how is the defense shaping up? Certainly last game shouldn't be used as an indicator due to all of the offensive turnovers but give us a few of the big playmakers in the 3 - 3 - 5 scheme.

FSU logoReed Williams MLB should be back this week and he is the glue that seems to hold the D together.  His first game back last year was against CU and he had an interception.  So look for big things from him.
Another guy to keep an eye on is our 6-5 215 safety, Robert Sands.  While he will not start he will see most of the playing time. He is a ball hawk that can lay the lumber on a wide receiver.

 FSU logoFinally, prediction time:
Answer in a sentence or two:

FSU logoWest Virginia wins if - It establishes the run and does not turn the ball over.
Colorado wins if - West Virginia totally craps its pants and turns the ball over more than three times.
Final score: WVU 42 - Colorado 17