The Sock 'Em, Bust 'Em Board Because that's our custom


I’ve been noticing a lot of double comments. Is there some sort of a hang-up? I was told last week there was a glitch, but that it’d been fixed. Seems to me a lot of people are having to submit and then re-submit comments. I’m having no such trouble, but I enter comments differently, hence my cluelessness.

As for the replay rules, allow me to take a little more time here. I said Stewart has one “win or lose,” but that wasn’t as clear as I intended. I meant he gets one at the outset and can hang onto that one if he wins a challenge. I guess that’s two, but you don’t “win”  a second — or third — challenge if you’re right. If he wins, he gets that challenge back, but for one time only. If he loses, he can’t challenge later in the game. It’s always completely subjective, which is why I think he hasn’t challenged on those opening drives.

Here’s the rule lifted from the rulebook:

Head Coach’s Challenge (Rule 12-5-1-b). A new rule expands the ability of a head coach to challenge a reviewable ruling on the field. The head coach now retains a challenge if his initial challenge is successful and thus results in a reversal by the replay official. The coach will then still have a single challenge that he may use anytime during the game if his team has not used all its timeouts. Thus a team may have a total of two challenges in the game, but only if the first results in a reversal of the on-field ruling.

Cause for pause or applause?

E-mail time … and this seems to be a pretty popular topic:

Hey Mike.

Burning question.

Why would Coach Stewart tell the “world” some of the secret success’s they had against Auburn (signals) and then why would you want to print that for everyone to see and know.
I know it makes for great print, and I like “being in the know”.  It makes it fun, but man, I don’t think I would let anyone in on what I’m doing. 
What do you think?

Why would Coach Stew let that out?

These are the things that give me great pause.

Fair enough. Let me free myself of guilt first. I noticed what was going on pretty early in the game — and I wasn’t alone — and I felt the need to share that. Seemed like not only a pretty good tactic, but a pretty significant contribution to the victory. That had to be highlighted. 

As for Stewart, well, he does have a way of spilling his beans — squib kicks, game plans, etc. — but he’s coy about other things, especially injuries.

Continue reading…

A legendary snub?

The Legends Football Coaches’ Poll has a pretty good constituency and the Mountaineers are now up to No. 23. It’s the general neighborhood you’ll find them in any poll after four straight wins, though higher than any of the mainstream methods.

Don’t blame home-cooking. Don Nehlen, who was at Thursday night’s game, left WVU off his ballot

Cincinnati v. WVU

Pegged for 7 p.m. on ESPNU. Get your radios ready  …

Auburn’s defense had WVU’s offense right in its crosshairs … and it was the Mountaineers who had the Tigers right where they wanted them?


Turns out WVU was giving Auburn one look and then looking to do something else — hence the repeated leg lifts and quick conferences with the coaches on the sideline. Oh, those sneaky Mountaineers!

Stewart anticipated man-to-man defense in the secondary, but knew Auburn would be active and aggressive up front. The Mountaineers wanted to know when linebackers would blitz and when safeties would come to the line of scrimmage. To get that information required some trickery.

“We changed our signals,” Stewart said.

All season, White has lifted and lowered his foot to give center Mike Dent the cue to snap the ball. Auburn was ready for that, but so, too, was WVU.

“This week the leg kick was the dummy (signal),” Stewart said. “We leg kicked and then did a hand clap (to cue the snap). We’d leg kick, they’d come down and show their hand and then we’d get a play.”

Talking points

…from the weekend that was. For your use in elevator rides, trips to the water cooler and other awkward  moments on a Monday. 

– I know Rutgers, Louisville and UConn won, but WVU had the best outcome in Big East football Saturday.

– Yet the Big East race remains “hopelessly muddled.” 

– Quite an look at the Thursday night experience in Morgantown… and quite a look at you-know-who.

– The ink is drying! Meanwhile, one web entrepeneur is fuming.


– “Facing adversity on several levels,” rifle rolls. Again. 

Friday Feedback

Welcome to the Friday Feedback, blah, blah,blah. Third quarter, 10:45 to go, Auburn ahead 17-13. Television timeout before Auburn takes possession. Cue Y.M.C.A. and Ryan J. Boyd. You know what happened next, but let’s be honest. You knew what was going to happen next. I’m this close to asking Stewart about the phenom during a press conference.

This was perhaps the best RJB yet. The Tigers were at WVU’s 38-yard line following another long kickoff return and this game was nowhere near where it ultimately ended. The music hits, the camera is on RJB from the start and actually catches the very moment when he realizes what’s happening. He tears off the jacket and then tears down the house.

See you in Connecticut, Mr. Boyd.

Still trying to sort through what happened and what it all means, but a few things are clear:

1) Not to dampen the mood, but Auburn isn’t that good — I put a star next to the field goal that ended the 20-play, 81-yard drive to start the game — and had no answers once the lead turned into a deficit. It was how the Tigers played with a lead that seemed most unusual. I cannot get past the importance of the the seven-yard loss on the reverse immediately following the onside kick. WVU’s season was o-ver if it went down 24-3 and that seemed likely since the Tigers were running forward at will. Seemed like a silly time to go outside the box with a trick and let WVU’s speed on defense make a play. Second quarter, I know, but when Bill Stewart calls that one play colossal and Mortty Ivy admits it was the turning point, I think it deserves mentioning. That said, WVU’s offense made a very good defense look very ordinary. Credit where it’s due, to be sure.

2) The Mountaineers need to make sure Dorrell Jalloh gets X touches per game. He’s too versatile, too capable.

3) The offensive line was very impressive and I don’t recall one substitution the entire game. A lot of that has to do with running the plays it loves to run.

4) Pat White had eight yards rushing. Eight! Normally, one might say that’s ridiculous and he needs more than 11 carries — two of which were sacks — but I thought he was used pretty well. Take away the two picks, both of which were “acceptable” errors, and he passed just fine. He picked his spots on runs and remained a very real threat. The touchdown pass to Alric Arnett and a couple of the option plays were successful because the defense rallied to or focused on White. Auburn’s speed was detrimental at times.

5) 8-2?

Onto the Feedback. As always comments appear as posted.

overtheSEC said:

That sound you hear is Dave Wannstedt chomping his gum and suddenly not feeling so good about Nov 28

I don’t doubt that for a second.

Continue reading…

Sen’Derrick Marks. That is all.

Getting an interview with an Auburn player was no easy task this week. Leave it at that. Eventually, I just asked, “Who should I talk to?”

The response came with no hesitation: “Sen’Derrick Marks.”

The recomender went on a little more and tried to sell me on the fact Marks was actually pretty entertaining over the phone. At that point, it was all I needed to hear. I knew a little of his story and that he was a very, very good player, so I bit.

A while later, I was talking to a colleague who glowed about his interview with Marks and how much fun he’d had over the phone. Not only was he somewhat sad to hang up, so, too, was Marks.

That almost never happens. So, for a change, I waited somewhat anxiously to talk to someone I’d never spoken to before in my life.

It was worth it.

The phone rings at the preordained time and Sen’Derrick Marks is ready to speak – just not for nearly as long as he’d like. Auburn’s defensive tackle asks for a brief reprieve.

“Let me eat so I don’t have to rush,” he said. “I’ll call you back. Then give me an hour. I like to run my mouth.”

Under the weather?

While we’re talking about home-field advantages, let’s incorporate home-climate advantages.

The Tigers played at Syracuse in 2001, but that was inside the Carrier Dome, which, despite it’s name, has no air conditioning. The last time Auburn played as high up on the map in an outdoor venue was the old Kickoff Classic against the Miami Hurricanes at Giants Stadium, in East Rutherford, N.C.

That was in August 1984.

A game at a place like WVU — cold weather, colder fans — doesn’t happen because 1) Auburn doesn’t have to do it and 2) Auburn doesn’t like to do it.

The last time that program came so far north so late in the season was a game at Villanova on Nov. 22, 1941. The Tigers haven’t played a nonconference road game since Georgia Tech in 2003.

This year, or  any year, for that matter, the Tigers haven’t dealt with the cold very often.

Auburn has played five games in sub-50-degree weather since 2000. That bleak Iron Bowl, with a 41-degree game time temperature, was the coldest.

The chill Thursday night when Auburn plays at West Virginia could be almost as biting.

According to forecasts by The Weather Channel, Morgantown will have a daytime high of 59 degrees and an overnight low of 37 on Thursday. …

The coolest temperature at kickoff so far this season was Oct. 11, when Auburn and Arkansas contended with a pleasant 73-degree afternoon.

Let’s not completely disregard this as a factor because it is somewhat foreign. I interviewed Sen’Derrick Marks — seriously, watch No. 94 — Monday night after practice. The temperature, he said, was in the 60s and people were beginning to wonder and worry about the weather in Morgantown.

“It’s been weighing on a couple people’s minds because we know once we get there, it’s going to be cold. We’ve got a lot of Florida boys on our team and any time they get a little cool, like tonight, when it’s not even cold, they get in their long-sleeved shirts and practice in their tights. It may take a toll on them, but I think as the game goes along, they’ll get used to it.” 

Behlod, Thursday night

Weird stat that means nothing, but looks really good on paper a computer screen. WVU hasn’t lost a Thursday night home game in almost 82 years! Imaging the skill on that Washington & Jefferson squad to come to Morgantown and win 13-3 that Nov. 25, 1926 night. No one’s gotten the Mountaineers since. Now that’s a home-field advantage.

“Special things happen on Thursday night in Morgantown,” White said. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s party night in Morgantown or because it’s football night. We’ll see what happens this Thursday.” 

No wonder WVU is favored by three points this evening. In more recent times, the  Mountaineers are 13-1 in home night games since 2000. The combination — Thursday at night at home — is pretty special.

People don’t understand the pride of West Virginia. And there’s something about when we play a night game out here in late October, around Halloween and that full moon’s out. Oh, boy. It’s wild.

These people, for them to take off a half a day of work and come roarin’ in here, it is an event. It is a life happening. It’s part of their culture, their heritage. They come in here and their stomachs are tight, their throats are tight, their hearts are palpitating. And they’re ready to go. And the tougher the opponent, the more people like it.