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Huddle Up: Dana-Style



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Photo Attribution: US Presswire

The good folks at the Smoking Musket join me to talk Dana, WVU’s defense, and what they love about the Big 12. Enjoy!

1. What has been the big difference between the hot start and the three-game slide?

For one thing, I think we hit a little bit of a wall in terms of the competition gauntlet. In the Big East, you maybe had 1-2 games a year against Top 25 teams. This year, every team in the conference other than Kansas has been ranked at some point in the season. We’re not very deep, especially on defense, and I think the grueling schedule has caught up with us a little bit.

But honestly the biggest issue is we lost our mojo. We were flying high after the Texas win, and then got punched in the mouth in Lubbock. I think that stunned our guys, and we haven’t had the mental toughness to bounce back. There are rumors swirling about team chemistry and whatnot, but those are always out there when teams struggle. I just think it’s a confidence issue.

2. Everybody knows about Tavon Austin and Geno Smith, but who on WVU’s defense should worry Cowboy fans?

Hahahahahahahaha!  Maybe one of the refs will accidentally get in somebody’s way? Or the turf monster might jump up and trip someone as they’re running a corner route? Those are about the two biggest concerns for opposing offenses, at least as far as I’ve been able to tell.

Although, there are a few youngsters out there who have shown promise, like safety Karl Joseph, who has been known to lay the wood if and when he actually gets in the proper coverage. And redshirt freshman linebacker Isaiah Bruce is one of the team’s top tacklers and one of the biggest reasons the team has been stout against the run. The other guy plugging up running lanes is nose tackle Shaq Rowell, who has been solid for us this season.

3. 1-10, how good of a job do you feel like Dana is doing in year two?

I’d go with about a 5. The way the season has gone, though, it’s hard to get a read. Are we just going through a rough stretch or is something seriously wrong within the program?

If we can right the ship and finish 8-4, I don’t think too many people will be calling for his head.  But if we slide to 6-6 after starting 5-0 and being ranked (probably unreasonably) in the top 5, that’s a bit concerning.

4. Has the transition to the Big 12 been easier than you thought it would be, tougher than you thought, or about how you thought it would be?

We knew we would have our hands full, and most folks predicted 9-3 or 10-2 records. When we raced out to that fast start, some of us got hopeful and started dreaming of bigger things despite the defensive struggles. The thing nobody predicted was the sudden disappearance of the offense, and I don’t think that’s attributable to the change in conferences at all.

I could have seen us lose a game 48-42 and not been too surprised by it. But to only score 7, 7, and 17 meaningful offensive points in a three game stretch is perplexing to say the least. The thing I’m most impressed about with Big 12 offenses is how quarterbacks are so much more developed. In the Big East, you could count on a couple misfires a game to help stall drives. In the Big 12, you have to go make a play.

Otherwise, the fans and the teams we’ve encountered so far have been nothing short of fantastic.  That’s been the part that has made being a fan in the Big 12 so much fun.

5. Predictions for Saturday?

With the caveat that I’m a perpetual WVU optimist homer, I keep thinking the Mountaineers have to right the ship at some point. They simply can’t stay in an offensive funk for the rest of the year, and I actually saw some improvement out of the defense last week.

It doesn’t hurt that we’re decent against the run and Oklahoma State’s quarterback situation is unsettled. I’ve seen a few other folks pick WVU in the upset this week, and I’m going to agree with them and take the Mounties 42-31. Now that I’ve said that, we’ll probably get blown out by 3 touchdowns.

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