Instant Analysis - Oct. 1
West Virginia 35 ... Colorado 24
It has taken me a while, but I think I finally
figured out the problem with the Colorado Buffaloes
... they stink.
I'm totally and completely convinced that Dan
Hawkins is a good coach. You don't do what he did at
Boise State without knowing what you're doing, but
the talent simply doesn't appear to be there. It's
not like the Buffs haven't brought in a few decent
players to build around, but they haven't panned
out. QB Cody Hawkins isn't improving, but that's
because he has mediocre receivers to throw to.
Rodney Stewart ran well against West Virginia, but
Darrell Scott was supposed to be the
program-changing superstar. The defense doesn't have
the horses in the front seven, and the offensive
line isn't doing enough to take over games like
older Colorado lines could.
But more than the apparent talent gap is the
inability to come up with the big plays needed to
change games. Good teams make their own breaks, and
every time there's something big and important
happening in a Colorado game, it's almost always
happening for the other team. As good as Stewart was
this week, he wasn't Noel Devine. Even though the
Buffs came up with four takeaways, they didn't seem
to hurt as much as the three interceptions. When the
Buffs needed a clutch field goal, unlike last year
in the overtime win over the Mountaineers, Aric
Goodman didn't come through.
All isn't lost. The Big 12 season is still there to
salvage an ugly start, and a few big conference wins
would change everything. But to get those, Coach
Hawk needs to pull out a few rabbits out of his hat
... and a few more talented players.
If you're a West Virginia guy today, the glass is definitely half-full.
Sure, the Mountaineers have been sloppy of late and Thursday's win over Colorado was hardly a referendum, but the things plaguing them as the mid-point of the regular season approaches are correctable. That's the headline for Bill Stewart's team as his team gears up for a run at a Big East title.
Listen, turnovers will never be tolerated in the sport, and they've cost West Virginia a shot at being unbeaten through five games. However, with better discipline and fundamentals, those muffs can be solved as quickly as next week. Personnel issues, on the other hand, are a hurdle of a different kind, and the ‘eers have few of them right now. The offense, led by RB Noel Devine, can score in a hurry, and the defense plays with speed and a penchant for stopping the run. In other words, there's ample talent in Morgantown to win a league championship, as long as the players can locate the handle and stop treating the ball as if it's a bar of soap.
1) Italian soccer players are defense-minded stalwarts who trash talk endlessly, act like fools, but ultimately win a lot of games. French tennis players squander massive amounts of natural talent. Duke basketball players walk the court with swagger but lack answers against superior specimens. Chicago Cubs baseball players feel the weight of 101 years (and counting), their protestations to the contrary. And West Virginia football players are either off-the-charts awesome or bottom-rung brutal, with no room in between. This is the world as we know it. This is life as we've come to understand it. No sense trying to wish these things away; they'll always be with us.
2) For the record, Colorado just doesn't have A-list, big-boy-table talent to compete at the highest levels of the Big 12. West Virginia owned a tougher line, faster setbacks, and a defensive front that could generate more pressure. But if recruiting—and not necessarily Xs and Os—is the main problem in Boulder, it doesn't change the bottom-line reality: Dan Hawkins, a decent man in a cutthroat profession, hasn't done his job well, and shows no signs of emerging from his present-day struggles. Good people fail. Bad people succeed. Another pair of life's harsh realities.
This is hardly a landmark win for West Virginia, since Colorado appears to be in big trouble, especially heading into conference openers against Texas and Kansas. But as the Mountaineers move into Big East play, they look to be a contender in what could be a pretty interesting race. The WVU offense sputtered in the first half, but in RB Noel Devine and QB Jarrett Brown, they have a pair of experienced producers who can be relied upon continually. The WVU defense looked pretty good against the Buffs, too, keeping things under control in the first half when the O kept turning it over. At 3-1, West Virginia looks to be in pretty good shape. As for Colorado, the Buffs can talk all they want about the cupboard's being bare when Dan Hawkins got there, but he hasn't done too well attracting the speed necessary to compete with the better teams – and right now that's all of them – on the CU schedule. Before the game, it appeared as if these two teams were headed in opposite directions as the rigors of conference play commence. Thursday night proved that to be true.