I decided to take this week's Bulls Recon for one simple reason -- I owe The Smoking Musket the story of why our school is named the University of South Florida. Once I post that story over there, I'll link back to it here.
But we'll get to that tomorrow night. Let's talk to WVUIE97 from The Smoking Musket about this Thursday night's game. You know how this works -- we ask questions, they give answers, and everyone learns something. Here we go.
V5: The Mountaineers are the clear favorites right now in the Big East. Please tell me why you all can go 11-2 or 10-3 this season, finish ranked in that 10-15 range, and save our pathetic little conference's dignity.
WVUIE: I think the biggest reason is the overall quality of the defense this year. Veterans dot the field and they rank 7th nationally in both yards and points allowed. Also because the offense (when clicking) is achieving the balance we lacked under the previous coaching staff. Plus, it doesn’t hurt the rest of the BE has looked fairly horrible thus far.
V5: Is Noel Devine going to be 100% for this game? He only had three carries against UNLV, but then again it looks like everyone important got out of there pretty fast. In a game of speed, it seems like he's going to be valuable, assuming he gets enough touches.
WVUIE: Devine was a bit banged up heading into the UNLV game, but the coaching staff stated that they only wanted to use him enough to win the game. Once that appeared in hand, he was going to sit and recuperate more. If it had been a league game or against stiffer competition, I believe he would have played more. With the week off and the rest during that game, he should be close to, if not 100%. Coach said he has practiced well thus far this week.
V5: How has Geno Smith been doing? The only WVU game I've seen much of was the Marshall game, and even then only the parts where you guys pulled it out of your rear ends with those two long drives. But he looked good in that small sample size.
WVUIE: Geno has been absolutely amazing. I still find it hard to believe he's still only a true sophomore, given the level of his play this year, thus far. He has a confidence and pocket presence/patience that I haven't seen at WVU in a long time, allowing for routes and plays to develop so he can make the correct read and pass. I compare his touch to the days of Marc Bulger. He also has mobility, which he hasn’t had to show a lot of, thankfully.
V5: Since this is the only 3-3-5 stack defense we see on a regular basis, can you quickly explain its pros and cons? Are there any playmakers on the defensive side of the ball that make it go?
WVUIE: The pros, I think, are that it allows for more speed/skill on the field allowing for multiple angles of attack on blitzes and more help on coverage at times. Plus, its use at other schools is limited around the country, which can make it difficult to prepare for.
Cons: With the multiple blitzes that can come out of it, it can leave DB’s on a island at times and if he's inexperienced, can lead to disastrous results (see Keith Tandy vs. USF last year). It also makes it hard to recruit for the DL, from what I've seen. Other areas of player recruitment have flourished, but this is an area that has lacked in terms of "star recruits" for what that's worth.
Despite that last con, WVU's DL has been wonderful, now that there's a bit more depth to rotate in. We have Chris Neild clogging up the middle and we have Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller on the edge, rushing. J.T. Thomas is a workhorse at LB and the glue to this D and Robert Sands is an absolute ball hawk at safety.
V5: Bill Stewart... what's his deal?
WVUIE: Ahhh, the million dollar question; one that has absolutely divided the WVU fan-base. I'm squarely in the middle at this point. I do believe he has come a long way from the coach who couldn’t seem to figure out the headset against Colorado. His methods of communicating are old fashioned, but I do think there's a good football mind in there.
I hope that he's the surprisingly wily guy that EDSBS has portrayed in his 140 character previews. Is he? I'm still not sure. I am, however, sure that we could have done a lot worse with the hire.
V5: What are you predicting for the game? Also, will you be rooting for some kind of awful (but non-fatal) Craig James mishap when he does his ridiculous exercise segment?
WVUIE: I'll give you my standard superstitious response to everyone who asks me this question about any game: WVU wins 22-20. Seriously though, I'm expecting another defensive struggle which could very easily give the score I said.
OR...our D clamps down on USF and Geno tosses the ball all over the field and Devine runs wild on the Bulls. I'd prefer the latter, but the former is just as likely.
As far as the Pony... I've been bad about watching games other than ours during the week, so I've not witnessed or heard about the segment you're speaking of. If it's as bad or worse than Blackledge's food bits, I don't even want to know.
Yeah, you probably don't. Thanks again to WVUIE97 and the guys at The Smoking Musket, your home for Mountaineers sports and Hump Day hotties. Speaking of which... today's a hump day.