There are two ways to look at West Virginia’s game today against Syracuse. The first is that it’s a pretty important moment for the Mountaineers, who despite their defeat last week are still in line to accomplish many things, yet still must play demonstrably better than they did against South Florida. That entails a certain amount of mental maintenance as WVU must realize it is/was/can be better.
The second view is that it’s just another game. This requires none of the recuperative thinking, but only a physical presence inside the Carrier Dome and a performance good enough to beat a bad Orange team.
WVU Coach Rich Rodriguez was asked how he catered to his players this week and he revealed he’s not into all of that “psychological babble.”
“Y’all concentrate too muck on the psychological part of it. Fans want to worry about ‘What’s their mindset? What’s their mood? They weren’t thinking going into the game.’ Listen, once the game kicks off, it’s over.”
Well, this is a team that with a loss to South Florida is 26-4 in its past 30 games and has scored at least 30 points in 20 of 24 games. Maybe it means nothing, but maybe it means the team just isn’t usedÂ to losing and not used to struggling.
And for a team that’s conquered so much and so many, note that two of the four losses and three of the sub-30-pointÂ games have come against USF. So maybe this was a team that needed a little encouragement this week just to make sure the players didn’t get down thinking a suddenly surging opponent might have their number.
And maybe not, because recovery was the players’ responsibility.
“I think we should be ready every game, win or lose,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously, you’re more confident when you win and when you lose you’re less confident. Outside of that, all that psychological babble is just that.”
There is somethingÂ to be said for that approach because different treatment from the coach might sound an alarm and make the situation seem more urgent than it is, when, in reality, it’s less critical with so much of the season left to play. The Mountaineers stayed the course this week and continued their ascent toward the top.
“I ain’t going to jump off the ship and I ain’t going to jump off my players’ ship,” Rodriguez said. “I’m not going to discard them. I’d rather have my guys than anybody.”