Tony Caridi: WVU Fans Don't Worry
I’ve been faked out before. There was the time at the mall when the girl in the kiosk got me to buy this “magical” hand cream. I later found out the only thing magical was how much money she was able to make disappear from my wallet.
Despite that misadventure, I pride myself on having above average abilities in determining when someone is shooting straight and when someone is shoveling, shall we say, slop.
That’s why I’m not buying any of the fears and worries that some Mountaineer fans are voicing about Saturday’s get together with the Dukes of James Madison. I appreciate the concerns, but no need to worry because the guys who will actually be playing the game understand those concerns more than you do.
In some sort of gridiron cosmic collision of unintended consequences, the Mountaineers will head into this weekend’s game feeling like they’re the underdog with something to prove.
That’s because JMU has outscored its first two opponents 97-10. That’s because James Madison is ranked fourth nationally. And, most importantly, it’s because James Madison is actually a good football team. The video doesn’t lie and the Mountaineers have come away genuinely impressed by the Dukes speed, aggressiveness, and scheme.
And when you throw in James Madison’s victory over Virginia Tech just two years ago, you’ve got the players’ full and undivided attention. Listening in at Tuesday’s interview session you would think WVU was getting ready to play the NFL’s New England Patriots instead of the CAA’s Dukes.
You could hear it in their words and see it in their eyes - the Mountaineers fully comprehend and accept that they’ve got something to prove on Saturday in Landover, Md. That’s great news for nervous Mountaineer fans, but not good news for the Dukes.
It’s early, but based on their last eight quarters of play, you get the feeling that WVU’s offense is morphing into a football version of a thoroughbred. You train them, you feed them, and you rest them and when the gate opens all you see is dirt fly and points scored.
Over on the defensive side, they’ve spent two weeks fixing mistakes. That gets tedious and, quite honestly, aggravating. That unit will be more than prepared to prove that game one was just a case of growing pains. Throw in the fact that the Dukes’ leading rusher DaeQuan Scott is questionable for Saturday’s game with an ankle injury and all is well.
Upsets happen when a team fails to show up on the favored team’s collective radar. That’s not the case this week; the Mountaineers see that purple dot flashing on their monitor and they are ready to engage.
In their only other meeting in 2004, WVU beat James Madison 45-10. The Dukes went on to win a national championship that year. JMU could very well win it all again this season, but the Mountaineers are also of championship caliber.
As a result, the Dukes will get WVU’s full assault on Saturday, and lately, that’s been a scary thing for opposing teams.