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WRNL Interrogates: The Smoking Musket

Turns out West Virginia fans are just as down and out as we are.


WVUIE97 was kind enough to sit down with us the other day and answer some questions we cooked up for Riot Bowl II this weekend.  Our questions, and his all too familiar sounding answers follow.

WRNL: West Virginia has had a disappointing season just like Iowa State.  What happened that allowed things to fall so quickly?  Did Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey matter that much?

TSM: It's a yes and no to the Geno, Tavon and Stedman part of that question. We definitely miss the consistency at the quarterback position. That, combined with a painfully thin roster, is the main reason for the downfall we've experienced this season. During the previous Coaching staff's tenure, they built the team for the Big East, emphasizing quality over quantity instead of the balance that Holgorsen is striving for today. There were 3 straight recruiting classes that over half of the signees, that should be juniors and seniors now, aren't on the team. You can't miss out on that many kids and expect to be competitive in a league like the Big 12. The resulting roster that Holgorsen is building is amongst the youngest teams in the nation. We have a bunch of freshman and sophomores on the two-deep right now. You can also add a multitude of injuries as a contributing factor to our struggles on defense of late.

WRNL: The quarterback carousel appeared to settle when Clint Trickett took over but is he really the answer going forward or is there hope that a new quarterback will emerge out of the pile or possibly from the JUCO ranks?

TSM: I wish I could tell you. Hell, even Holgorsen at this point can't tell you. There is hope that a full offseason will help Trickett (and Childress) fully grasp the offense more and then we can have a proper quarterback competition in the spring and a winner emerge. There is talk of an offer to a JUCO QB in California right now and we do have one freshman coming in, but I'm not sure those are the answers either. It's a definite concern.

WRNL: I really wish I could make this question more interesting, but there's not better way to ask it: Why the hell aren't you guys using Charles Sims 30 times a game?  In the games where he almost touched it that much (TCU and Texas) you won or came damn near close.  Then Kansas happened.  Why?

TSM: You had to ask that one, didn't ya? I (thankfully, in hindsight) missed watching the Kansas game due to my sister's nuptials, but I'm gonna attempt to answer this anyway. Holgorsen has repeated more than once that Dreamius Smith and Sims have the same skills and are fairly interchangeable. Maybe, but that doesn't explain exactly what you're asking. Sims is more of a receiving threat and Smith tends to head upfield a bit quicker than Sims does (he keeps trying to stretch it too much, looking for a seam, for my liking on many plays). This is a prime example of why some fans are frustrated with Holgorsen this season.

WRNL: Talk about the defense a little bit.  They were the biggest reason you beat Oklahoma State and have played well in stretches for most of the year but statistically somehow rank in the bottom half of the Big XII in nearly every major category.  How is it that they're able to keep this team in games?

TSM: Several blowouts will tend to skew the statistics to the negative quickly when they were of the nature they were. How they've kept the team in games has been their knack for generating turnovers (problem being the giveaways of the offense this year). And they've been able to get them in key moments of the game, see the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State games where there were multiple red zone turnovers created.

WRNL: What do you expect to see this weekend?  We spoke on the podcast about how the attendance is likely to be poor with the holiday break, but will that really have that much of an impact on the atmosphere, and thus the game?  Finally, who do you see taking Riot Bowl II?

TSM: I expect to see several drunk Wide Right & Natty Liteans. That said, the crowd will likely be disappointing, but I have gone into games with the same expectation before and have been pleasantly surprised a few times. That said, the majority of the fans in attendance to this game WILL be the die-hards. While I don't expect them to generate a Texas/LSU game atmosphere, it will still be rowdy and loud enough, assuming the team gives them reason to be.

I'm scared to death of this game. After the letdown against Kansas, I really don't want to go into the offseason on that kind of losing streak. If the defense can generate some turnovers and the offense doesn't give any away themselves, give Sims enough carries (nothing to save him for now) and I think we can pull this off. Please don't make me consider the alternative.