The Mountaineer Retweet: Been Too Long Edition

by: Brandon Priddy

@abpriddy

 

Howdy y’all. Sorry it’s been so long. I could bore you with excuses but it doesn’t matter. My work and family…not your concerns. You want tweets and you want wins…well now we have both! Let’s do it!

There’s really no other way we could have started this thing off. With Veterans day on the Wednesday leading to game week I’d be remiss and ungrateful if I didn’t drop a hearty “thank you” to all who serve. The Retweet salutes you and we all owe you a debt of gratitude. You service and commitment allow us all to live freely in the greatest country on earth – thank you.

Speaking of things that make this country great, how about Mr. and Mrs. White? I don’t know what they teach these kids (much less feed them) but can we get an instructional video or something? First you had Kevin go from seeming juco cast off to college superstar and first round NFL pick. I’d love to know the last first round pick that took a semester off from juco and re-emerged like THAT. And if that isn’t enough they’ve got another son who has persevered to make the leap from unknown fry cook at the golden arches to budding star in the Big 12. Those stories are great, but they speak to a determination and work ethic that isn’t common. Syracuse can keep the damn Ismails (you younger kids can google that) – I’ll take the Whites all damn day. Keep ’em coming.

I know the competition helps, but I also know that Wendell Smallwood set a career rushing high in two consecutive weeks. Don’t. Touch. A. Thing.

Not much I can add to this. 45 years ago the worst sporting tragedy in history happened, and it happened right down the road in our fair state. Sure we all make our ‘little brother’ jokes, but what they’ve done with that program is nothing short of impressive and worthy of your respect. For four and a half decades that program and school have managed to honor the memory of those who perished by retaining and celebrating their story, yet not being defined by it. I can’t imagine they’d have wanted to be remembered any other way. Thunder on, Herd. You do us proud.

And while I’m not positive whether or not this game was chosen for throwbacks to coincide with the MU anniversary, let’s just pretend that it was. ‘Cause that’s pretty cool. I would have maybe added the crosses on the back of them too, but that’s just me. Love these helmets though.

This could be cool.

Things got off to a rocky start, but then they turned around quickly. Was great to see this for Barber, who last saw the Longhorns while laying on the turf with a busted wheel that would cost him the rest of 2013 and all of 2014. Kid has literally bled for this program and continues to be an asset on and off the field. #Scoop&Score couldn’t happen to a better young man.

I’ll be honest, last week when this happened I saw #10 and thought “wow, look at Squirt laying the wood to some fools!” Then of course I backed up the DVR and broke out the roster, because Squirt does a lot of things but laying wood to fools is not on that list. Last time we saw Sharif, he was being flagged for the worst sideline unsportsmanlike conduct you’ll ever see on a crucial play against Alabama.

I like him smokin’ fools in-bounds.

(sidenote: the coverage teams have been out-friggin’-standing! More on that later.)

OK, let’s talk about the #FEEDWENDELL crowd. Every time he rips off a 16 yard carry (which is blessedly often) the entire WVU universe starts wondering why the offense hasn’t just been reduced to a series of gives to Wendell. Student Wendell Left. Student Wendell Right. Wendell Draw. Certainly it’s an enticing prospect and if 13 year old Tecmo Bowl Coach Brandon were calling the shots maybe we would just go ‘up-A’ all day.

There are two reasons that is a flawed logic. First of all the type of running game WVU has developed relies on a cumulative effect. You run, you run and then you run some more. If you’re a linebacker you’re much less apt to make that tackle after you’ve just been run into for 2 hours. But that wear and tear works both ways. Do you really want to wear Wendell out banging away body shots at a defense and just keep your fingers crossed that he’s got a little juice in the tank when his opening appears?

And that’s just within the game. Can you imagine what Smallwood would look like in late November after a month of 120 carries? WVU is fortunate to have a power back like Rushel Shell provides the perfect compliment to this style with his physical straight-at-you style maximizing each of his carries. Dana Holgorsen would be foolish to not do exactly what he’s doing.

Which leads me to my next point – aside from being foolish, Dana Holgorsen would also be kind of a jerk to #FeedWendell the ball 35 times a game. The physical nature of today’s game hasn’t effected any position as much as the running back. We’ve learned that these guys only have so much tread on those tires and workhorses in college tend to pay the price at the next level. As I said above it’s best for the team to be selective in when Wendell sees work and I’m saying here that it’s also good for Wendell. We’re running the ball at will and are going to have a great look at an 8 win season. Holgorsen’s RB rotation is just damn fine.

(sidenote: has anyone seen Donte Thomas-Williams? WVU’s quarterback just threw 12 passes – shouldn’t we be feeding every able-bodied tailback? Has he been THAT unreliable in practice? Just seems like you’d want to take the opportunity to get him on the field and eat some of these carries)

Massive feels inadequate. Both of these guys had a pretty rough October and I’m sure have spent many hours staring at that ceiling in the dark. This was a thunderbolt that absolutely NO ONE expected and ignited the crowd and all but extinguished Texas’ hopes. I’d be cool with this becoming a thing. Let’s call it the coups de gras.

Probably my favorite moment of the entire game. You’ve got to listen to this. Poor Tony just spent 5 weeks watching balls get overthrown, underthrown and guys whiffing on catches when they were there to be caught. At least 9 different times over the last 6 games he’s let his voice raise those two octaves getting ready for the impending touchdown call…..only to drop it back down as he comes out of the operating room to deliver the bad news. Well they weren’t gonna fool Tony today – not this time. At no point does he expect Durante to finish that play off, hell he actually CALLS THE DROP….then Jovon hops up from the turf with the ball in his hands. It’s a miracle! And I’m not making fun of Tony, tell me that’s not EXACTLY how each and every one of us felt. The call fit the situation perfectly.

Not. This. Night Day!

People were pretty hard on WVU’s tackling, but consider what they were dealing with.

Things don’t happen in a vacuum. Quarterback, tailbacks, all those dudes were monsters. How in the hell is Texas so awful?

Quite possibly the prettiest pass Skyler’s thrown in his time at WVU. 10/12 for 122 yards and a pair of scores is about as efficient as you’re gonna get (I mean actual in the real world efficiency, not stupid alternate-universe Geno Smith for his first 4 games in 2012 efficiency. I’m not even convinced any of that actually happened).

Fun fact – as some of you remember, Coach Holgorsen was quite heated with Sky after being slow to get the play in a couple times when I think Holgs wanted to go for it on 4th down but was frustrated at his in ability to get set up on the line fast enough. For a guy who has been very, very, very gentle with all his signal callers – especially this one – it was jarring. Howard had thrown an interception on his first attempt and another incompletion, and with the WVU offense sputtering, you wondered if Holgs was finally to the end of his rope and ready to see other people.

Howard didn’t miss another pass for the rest of the day – including those two touchdown beauties above. Oh, and he ran for a score. Getting the business from your head coach on national TV – or at least ESPN U – can’t be fun. I can think of a lot of quarterbacks who would retreat to the bench to sulk with their heads in a towel. Howard took his tongue lashing and got better. He made plays when called upon to do so and directed the offense effectively all day. We get that Skyler Howard and you’ve got an 8 win season with a great look at 9. I’m not saying Skyler Howard is the best thrower of the ball to ever grace the halls of the Puskar Center and he might not even be the best option on this team after this season, but right now he gives West Virginia the best chance to win football games.

Fact.

See Chris said what I said only he said it with like 120 characters and I milked a good 150 words out of it. Oh the skills I honed at St. Albans High cranking out 300 word papers on absolutely nothing as my boy Dave Lukowski sat watching in awe. GO RED DRAGONS!

One more year! One more year!

If you read this regularly, you know it’s not often I’m right about things so I want to toot my own horn a little and take a victory lap when I am. When Texas hired Charlie Strong I rejoiced. Charlie Strong is a great football coach, but he was absolutely the worst person for this job and I honestly don’t see how the UT administration ever thought he could do it in the first place.

Texas football isn’t a sport, it’s a brand, just like Kentucky basketball. As a UK grad I’ve had a front row seat to the virtuoso performance John Calipari has put on leveraging the Kentucky brand to the absolute fullest. The man never met a mircophone he didn’t like and never misses an opportunity to raise the profile of the Big Blue Nation. From phone calls from the president with an ESPN camera in the room (happened in 2010) to LeBron at UK games (happened in 2012) to Drake at Big Blue Madness (this year) Kentucky has become the “IT” school in college basketball, and that absolutely plays a large roll in Cal getting to name his recruits. In a related story, Kentucky has been in 4 of the last 5 Final Fours.

There are guys out there who could do that with Texas, because it’s the EXACT same type of national brand. James Franklin comes to mind – the sales job he did for Vandy here in Nashville was unprecedented. Point being Texas is a sleeping giant that Chaz Strong keeps on a heavy dose of Unisom and we should all thank him for it.

Let’s crowd surf him!

Poor Joe DeForest has been much-maligned in Mountaineer country, so it’s only fair to give him a tip of the RELAX-emblazoned cap. In all seriousness though, the WVU special teams this year have been outstanding, which is to say we’ve hardly needed to notice them. No back-breaking returns, no boneheaded punt muffs. Just beautifully boring fair catches, a decent kick return here or there and consistent tackling everytime the ball leaves the foot of a WVU kicker or punter. West Virginia is gloriously mediocre on kick returns, giving up an average of just 20.63 yards per return (54th nationally) and more importantly they haven’t even gotten close to giving up a TD. Same for punt coverage, where they’re giving up just 5.2 yards per return (50th) and again – no scores. And they’ve faced some really great returners.

Reliably boring. That’s all I ever wanted from my coverage teams. Really. That’s it. Thanks, Joe D. I can relax now.

Nothing to add.

Ohmigod PATRICK WAS KINDA POSITIVE IN THAT TWEET, Y’ALL.

I’m gonna try this with my mom at Thanksgiving. “Ma, that wasn’t the best meal I ever ate, but it was pretty solid across the board. I am deservedly full.” Maybe pat her on the head.

Probably gonna get my estate ironed out first, though.

It’s OK though cause the holidays are a time for family, not bowl prep. YOU’RE WELCOME TEXAS.

That’s a next-level troll there Texas, and I respect the hell out of you for it. Glad we could help.

Funny aside: as a part of his postgame interview Jed shared that as he lined up Skyler to talk after Coach Holgorsen, the kid responded with “aw man, during Country Roads?” All he’s wanted to do was come here and sing that song after a big win. That’s one of the things that helped him make his decision.

The kid’s had a rough month. Fans and bloggers certainly haven’t been easy on him. My Twitter account is no different. But he’s a good kid, man. You should want to see him succeed – lift him up and enjoy the last few games of this season. We’ve quietly got a chance to do some fun things.

There was really no other way to end this thing. It’s good to be back to our winning ways and good to be over .500 again. Let’s get 3 4 more.

LET’S GOOOOO!!!!!!!

 

Hope you enjoyed the read. Questions or comments? Aim your musket at @abpriddy on Twitter or shoot me an email at abpriddy@gmail.com  and fire away – I always try to respond. Thanks for reading.

 

 

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