WVU Sports with Mike Casazza

Friday Feedback

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Welcome to the Friday Feedback. PING!

Quite unexpectedly, but quite truly, West Virginia’s baseball team in this final third of the season has put itself in position to earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.

Earlier this month, the Mountaineers lost seven in a row and looked lost on the back end of the pitching staff. Now they’ve won three in a row and five of six and have massive three-games series at home  the next two weekends. I worked Wednesday’s game against Marshall and wanted to see if what had caught my eye was real or a figment of my focus.

It’s real. WVU’s offense doesn’t mess around and gets on base up and down the lineup. The splits in the first three innings are telling, and when you’re a revived team like the Mountaineers are, early runs keep that carousel spinning and keep everyone on board believing.

A three-run second inning got WVU rolling and extended a trend that’s helped aim the team’s fortunes in the right direction again. In the past six games, the Mountaineers are outscoring teams 17-7 in the first three innings and have led four times and been tied once.

During the losing streak, the Mountaineers were outscored 16-7 in the first three innings and never led entering the fourth.

WVU had two three-run innings against the Thundering Herd, giving them six innings with at least as many runs in the past six games. The Mountaineers had no innings with three or more runs and only three two-run innings in their losing streak.

It’s a different team than what Marshall prepared for before the March 18 game between the two was postponed.

“The biggest thing is they’re getting production from the back end of their lineup and they weren’t earlier,” Marshall manager Jeff Waggoner said. “That’s why they’ve become a great offense. The first part of the season, their top four or five guys were swinging it. Now they’re getting guys at the back end hitting. It makes it hard to pitch against them when they’re getting production from all nine guys.”

Equally important is the stabilization of the pitching staff. It looked like a lost cause when WVU was swept at home by Oklahoma State to put the caps on the losing streak. That left Mazey in a tricky spot for a midweek game against Ohio State, and almost by default he flipped the ball to Ross Vance. The left-handed sophomore aced his first career start with a complete-game, 14-strikeout gem that looks to have changed the season.

Mazey wanted to take Vance for a spin as a starter a second time, but knew he wouldn’t be available in that weekend’s series at Oklahoma. He nevertheless planned for a weekend rotation with Harrison Musgrave, John Means and a third starter, and that meant bumping Sean Carley to the bullpen to close things at the end. With Vance recovering, Mazey started Corey Walter for the first time this season.

Walter went four innings. Ryan Tezak took the ball and didn’t allow a hit in 2 2/3 innings. Carley pitched 2 1/3 innings for the save and WVU won the final game and thus the series. Neat!

A fresh Vance went six innings and allowed one run in a momentous 14-2 win Tuesday against Maryland. Walter, who impressed Mazey against Oklahoma. and got the ball again Wednesday and allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings against Marshall.

The rotation is set with Vance on normal rest for Sunday and the bullpen is fresh and secured with Carley as the closer for three games against the Wildcats and the Big 12’s best team batting average.

WVU needs wins and must avoid losses, especially at home, though they’ll have a lot of chances in conference play and non-conference games to help the cause.

WVU has the benefit of playing in the RPI’s No. 2-rated conference and will follow the series against Kansas State with another three-game series at home against Texas, which is No. 8 in the RPI.

WVU also gets a neutral-site game against Virginia Tech (No. 119) and a road game against Maryland in addition to valuable three-game road series in the conference against Kansas (No. 68) and Texas Tech (No. 14). A prominent college baseball statistics site projected before Tuesday’s win the Mountaineers could win six of their final 16 games and remain in the top 45.

“I don’t know if there’s a benchmark, but you probably feel safe if your RPI is in the top 30, top 35,” Mazey said.

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words, get a grip.

Dann White said:

Ah! Spring!! Where thoughts of football begin to drive out all distractions from other less entertaining notions. I am ecstatic today, reading the double-f and listening to “Scoop and Score” simultaneously on my trusty desktop, while the wife is not at home. It don’t get no better than that.

There seems at times to be an idea that the measure of a successful season is winning the approval of the fan base by winning enough games and attaining the right bowl invitation. Boy that’s a reach! Everyone should know and understand that the team exists just to please the folks on this blog!

My prediction on job one: Unless he again does everything in his power to give the job to someone else, Paul Millard will get the nod against Alabama. DH wants his QB to know what he wants, without him having to say it. Paul has that part of the job DOWN PAT. Were I coaching this team, I would make Paul take first team reps at a very fast pace, rushing at least three at a time.

If he can be conditioned to execute when things get frantic, if he can wait to plant his feet when he hears the hoof-beats coming; he may actually become a decent pro-style quarterback. Will Dana heed my advice? Of course not!

By the way Mike: In all honesty, your radio persona is really coming together. While I didn’t peg your voice right off as necessarily of radio quality, it has matured with what I would guess to be increased confidence through practice. Likewise, your ability to ad-lib has come full circle. Kindly pass that learning curve off to the QB rotation.

I’ve got to hand it to you little brother, you have broadcast talent. Don’t wait too long to make your next move; writers who can also express themselves on the air are probably few and far between. If you don’t have a good, no – GREAT agent, start sending out some clips and some clippings in search of one, he who hesitates is lost,


That’s an interesting, and I think increasingly understood, endorsement of Millard. It’s a big, big, big opportunity and you’d like to avoid spike strips by any means available. As for me, thanks for the kind words. I rather enjoy this venture. And I don’t have an agent, but I do all right.

Sammy said:

Also, for a guy with no margin for error, why does Paul Millard still throw off of his back foot so much? Is Shannon coaching this?

There are times coaches will accept this because the release comes quicker. When things are so dependent on timing, you have to take what you can get sometimes. Mostly, though, it’s a reaction to pressure and a bad habit he has to break. Dawson has been exceedingly clear about that. 

chocolate covered bacon said:

Mike, dual threat as in RG3 before the Shanahan brothers destroyed his wheels and Colin Kaepernick in the NFL.

In the FBS, Brett Hundley at UCLA and Taylor Kelly at Arizona State come to mind. Guys that force a defense to commit a defender to keep the QB from running for a first down and can force the same defense to honor the read option as a viable threat.

Since we are talking about WVU, I’m not looking for Crest to be the second coming of Pat White, or even Major. Though if I had to pick a WVU QB to compare my expectations of Crest, ironically I’d pick Oliver Luck. Crest probably cannot approach the game on the same level mentally, but he is faster, and there are more playmakers for Crest on the roster than Luck enjoyed as WVU’s QB.

Bottom line, I just look at the roster and the future of the QB position at WVU is a dual threat QB.

Gotcha. I was mostly interested in your definition just to continue crowd-sourcing this matter. I honestly don’t know to what extend Dana will go, but mobility of some degree is something the QB must have now. If everyone is equal mentally and knows the signals and the calls and the read-and-react stuff, I think the mobile guy gets the nod over the strong arm, the accurate arm, the quick release, etc. I wonder if Dana will ever ask or let his QB run enough to warrant the full-time focus of a defender. Again, I don’t know, but I like to take the temperature to see how others feel. More and more I think he’s looking for a guy who can run, but would rather throw. I think you’ll see more people like Crest or Howard and fewer like Millard and Childress.

rekterx said:

I thought about dropping by and saying something. But I’ve changed my mind.

Confession: The thought did occure to me sometime Sunday. “…I wonder when rekterx will opine.”

JP said:

Isn’t the timing of this odd? Did the press release about Phillip’s signing alert the authorities to his whereabouts, or was it Chuck Landon?

The variables have changed because of the stories that have been written this week, but if you learned last week about a newly committed player and googled his name, you’d find arrest records fairly early in the search. Then you’d see there were no resolutions to the cases. Then you’d be a fool not to be curious. then you’d find out a recruit has two outstanding warrants, and you should probably try to explain that. It wasn’t agenda-driven or spiteful. It was pretty simple, honestly. That’s why I just can’t understand, or believe, nobody knew about this, unless nobody bothered to look into it.

Karl said:

I wonder if we’ve reached a point where good recruits with no legal problems or glaring character questions look at all of the drama in our program over the last few years and say, “I don’t want to be a part of that.” It’s definitely something you can recruit against.

Absolutely it is, and that’s a conversation you guys can have. Here’s my question: How does this happen? In the past several years, basketball has recruited guys who didn’t qualify, who had health problems, who had known and unknown legal issues, so on and so forth. Football had all of its signees reach campus last season and was just as vigilant — and we’ll see if it was just as successful — this time around. Football won’t let a kid sign who has academic or  “character” issues. It backed away from a kid a few years ago who had a blemish he didn’t disclose with the coaches, and WVU learned a lesson it has not not revisited since. Does basketball need an assist there? Is it funding? A person? A process? Or is it not something that worries you that much?

smeer said:

great idea Mike

if I lived nearby and had regular tickets, I would love to be part of such a group IF the ideas don’t get lost in bureaucracy or becomes a rubber stamp group.

I do hope someone from Tier 4 will represent

Yeah, I hope so, too. So consider this a reminder: Sign up to get a seat on WVU’s fan experience committee! You’ll be the proxy for the people here and the ideas they have to make things better.

I love you, Doug! said:

Very simple: Real-time data services for customers at Mountaineer Field, in terms of better coverage and up-to-the-minute out-of-town scores. Nothing more hillbilly than getting first-quarter scores of noon games at 3 p.m.


Lee in Dayton said:

OK, I bit. It’s like playing poker – if you don’t bet, you can’t win. At least if I get selected, I’ll feel more empowered to complain later about things they don’t fix.

Dayton’s a bit far, no? Hell, I don’t care. Go, Lee.

Zach said:

First thing I would like to see (and hear) would be Travis jones back on the P.A. I do like bill nevin, but only as the basketball announcer. There is just not the same homefield advantage without the deliverance of “iiiiits third down” from Travis. Secondly, I would like to see the concession prices come down just a couple of dollars. $4 instead of $6 for a pepperoni roll would make a world of difference in the pockets of mountaineer fans. Hopefully we can make some of this happen, let’s go mountaineers!

Quality suggestions, but I think you’ll be doubly disappointed, Z. Travis calls Fairmont State football games, so his Saturdays are booked. And concession prices go in one direction. (Hint: Not sideways!)

Shoot4Show said:

Mike, I know “members of the press” wasn’t included in, “including, fans, faculty and students, season ticket holders, corporate partners and University administration,” but aren’t you uniquely qualified? You witness the fan experience at universities across the country and you can be the voice of a very vocal sampling of the fan base. I don’t see a conflict of interest. What say you?

I hadn’t thought of it, and I’ve never been shy about comparing and contrasting sites and experiences. I think, in all honestly, I lack the requisite familiarity with what a real fan sees and experiences. I couldn’t tell you about lines or prices or options at concession stands, audio quality and creativity in the stadium, so on and so forth. I could put the corner and edge pieces together on the puzzle, but the true worth of WVU’s idea comes from those in the thick of it. Then again, I think I talked Matt Wells into playing this or this atop Mario Alford replays next season.

JC said:

I went ahead and signed up….what the hey


JC said:

As my first order of business, I’d motion to paint the visitor section seats pink….a la Iowa locker rooms. Gotta win the game in the stands as well…..

Now that I’d like to see.

ccteam said:

More cowbell, less cotton eyed joe!

OK, whichever one of you gets on, you MUST push for the addition of Mario Bros. music and the elimination of CEJ. OK?

ME said:

I signed up, pick me!

If I could, I would. I like our chances.

I love you, Doug! said:

Say, anyone: Did Shelton Gibson play in the spring scrimmage? Is he still injured? What is his injury? Will he be a contributor or is he Tevita II?

He’s on the team and in good standing. He was a partial qualifier, though, so he wasn’t eligible to practice in the spring and fall. He’ll be good to go when summer classes start.

TH said: 

So is it a given that DTW redshirts? My goodness, he could end up being the best of the bunch and not have a chance to see the field.

Not a given. Not at all. Ideal? Maybe, but not if he can play. JaJuan Seider said Donte Thomas-Williams will get a shot in camp and he’ll get a spot if he deserves it — and given his combination of size and skill and how it distinguishes itself among the others, there’s certainly a spot if he earns it. I think he’d have to be clearly above Garrison and Buie to get that spot, though. Otherwise, WVU has been happy to redshirt kids and the depth at running back makes it more enticing. Put it this way: I doubt WVU would feel as comfortable redshirting Lamar Parker and Jacob McCrary because of the need at receiver.

Bobby Heenan said:

Agree completely that we need help at receiver, especially inside. There seems to be a fairly big drop off outside from the 1st and 2nd unit as well. A few more thoughts:

– I was a little surprised to see Gibson outside – thought we may try him inside due to my perceived lack of explosiveness there on the roster

– defense looks solid to me, with free safety being the big question mark. Defensive line looks big, but I think the QB pressure is going to have to come from blitzers.

– As many of us suspected, no one really emerged in the Spring, so the job is Trickett’s to lose if he can get healthy by July.

– Where is Jared Barber? Thought he’d be a solid second teamer for depth at MIKE or SAM.

Barber is rehabbing his ACL tear and didn’t do anything in spring football. He’s clearly part of the plans at one of those positions. Or both. Not sure why he wasn’t included, but Gibson was, since neither was a part of the spring. But don’t look too deeply into that.

tls62paj said:

I found the listing of Gibson to be interesting since he has not been practicing with the team. An incentive to keep him feeling involved?

Thought having brown at De and rose at nt to be interesting.

A little dismayed that Shaq Pettaway couldn’t cracked this list.

The defensive line stuff is a pretty good reflection of where Gibby and Bradley are going with this. It’s more DE-NG-DT than it was last year and it gives you size up front, which you need if your three-man front is to behave the way WVU’s is designed to behave. They have to be able to stand up and take on blocks and facilitate the players behind them. The DE (DT) has to be a big guy on the strong side, when applicable, and the NG ought to me mobile to compromise things in the middle. At least that’s what I’ve been led to believe. Petteway was hurt throughout the spring, too, but I sense patience is wearing thin there. He’s replaceable. Nothing against him, but WVU has plenty of able bodies who are willing and ready right now.

Karl said:

Is the offensive line larger than usual too? We’ve got 300-pounders at every position.

Indeed, and that was a priority in the winter. WVU wasn’t big enough last season to do the things it wanted and needed to do. Dana and Crook shouldn’t have the same reservations this season.

avb31 said:

I’m not surprised by that line. Alabama was #1 almost all year last year. We lost to Kansas and went 4-8.

I think we could be considered I underdogs in 9-10 games this year. I just can’t see a bowl game in this team’s future. Holgs will deserve an extension and a raise if he gets this team to a bowl game against this schedule.

You’re putting a lot of stock into the Big 12 this season, which, near as I can tell, is not a common stance. I think we’ll see how good Dana is or is not, for certain. He has more pieces than before, but he hasn’t done a ton with talent in the past. A bit of a paradox there, but you get the point.

netbros said:

So does this essentially give an athlete two red-shirt years? Will s/he always have six years to complete four, or only if they transfer sometime during the four years of eligibility? Can they transfer out, and then back to their original school, sitting out the two required transfer years?

Coaches at different schools could work together to say, “Hey Nick, could you take Jr. for a year and work on his back-pedaling fundamentals?” and then send him back to me after that.”

“Hey George, you need a dual-threat QB in a couple years? I’ve got a nice one that I won’t need until he’s a r-junior. Just make sure you give him back when you’re done.”

See, the NCAA needed to do a lot better with that explanation. As I read it, your scenario is not plausible. Someone with a hardship would transfer and sit out and get six years to play four. Say I’m a redshirt sophomore. At the end of my season, my mom is imprisoned for stealing canes and my blind father needs me closer to home. I transfer. I sit out my redshirt junior year. I play my redshirt senior year and the sixth year. And, as with most things, people are going to try really hard to cheat this for team or personal gain.

smeer said:

the part about writing a book or music or art popped off the page for me

where’s the line on self promotion?

boomstache t-shirts, etc.? is that art – on a shirt?

and what’s to stop a wealthy alum from buying 3000 copies of a kid’s book as a way to pay an athlete legally? (or a song, or a painting . . .?)

will athletes do crazy things to self-promote – gain a following and then cash-in?

and WOW on the six to complete four – more kids transferring to find the best dining experience? Div 1(revenue) moves even closer to being the NFL’s pure development league.

Hey why not let the NFL sponsor training tables? fatten them up for the pros.

Biiiiiig potential loophole you’ve spotted. Some of this stuff is pretty concerning unless it’s quickly and completely explained.

Karl said:

Tell you what, Alabama’s spring game was on cable the other day and they didn’t look that good. Not saying I think WVU will win, but based on what I saw, I’m not as scared as I was a few days ago. Their offense — particularly QB play — looked messy, and it wasn’t just the result of a great defense. Could Lane Kiffin poison this team?

I think you know the answer to that question.

Clarence Oveur said:

Agreed re: Holgorsen and this season, avb31.

As for ‘Bama, I just hope that WVU doesn’t take too much out of the outcome, i.e. letting a big loss linger or getting overconfident from a close game. There’s too much at stake early in the season for a letdown.

The games with Maryland and Oklahoma in quick succession will be difficult (I intentionally omitted Towson: they only return 9 total starters so that should be a win). It’s conceivable, perhaps even likely, that WVU comes out of that stretch 1-3. That would mean a 5-3 finish just to achieve bowl eligibility, and against this schedule that sure as hell wouldn’t look promising.

If WVU can get out of those first four games at 2-2, that gives them something to build on. I’m anxious to see how this team responds to the challenge.

Yeah, I almost sense there are three parts of the schedule 1) Alabama. 2) Towson, Maryland and Oklahoma. 3) The other eight games. 

I love you, Miss Cleo! said:

Why not — I’m predicting 8-4. No catastrophic injuries or multiple injuries at the same position, newly found depth, Trickett still only completes 60 percent of his passes but has 12 games in which to do so, resulting in some inevitable touchdowns; defense is improved, running backs to burn.

WVU beats Towson, Maryland, Kansas, TCU, Texas Tech, Kansas State (Thursday night at home; bringing back the magic of the mid-oughts!), Iowa State and steals one vs. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Texas. (I’m guessing Oklahoma at home.)

I’ll close with this:



smeer said:

who does Bama have returning? who has game experience? breaking in a new QB? if our D with depth can keep it close, stop the run with some modicum of success . . . that’s a spread worth putting some money down on WVU. that’s a lotta points for the first game of the season. I don’t expect we will roll over.

I’m going to Las Vegas in a few weeks. Want me to place a collective bet for those in agreement? Those in disagreement? We’ll buy lots of tea with the winnings.

Carlos Danger said:

I think the spread is fair considering our defensive struggles of the past few years with basically the same core group of players that will be playing in that game. To be even halfway decent on defence this year those players will need to be much, much better. Plus this is Alabama. They have exceptional athletes backing up exceptional athletes. There is little to no filler on their roster. If player A doesn’t perform they put in player B. I’m not saying I think that we can’t win because anything can happen. But I can see why Vegas would start the line at such a high number.

Interesting. If the team and all its superlatives that you stated were the same, but it was, say, Miami, would it be 23.5 points? Is the name Alabama worth a boost, similar to home field?

ffejbboc said:

I’m glad we are gigantic underdogs. It will put a boulder sized chip on our shoulders and serve as huge motivation.

Yeah, you think that might be plastered throughout the weight room and the meeting rooms and the locker room this summer?

Brother X said:

ONLY 23.5?

“So….you’re saying there’s a chance!?”

Enjoy the weekend!