Posted by Tony Caridi on Sunday, September 6, 2009
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It will take three weeks, maybe four, before we really know just what kind of a football team West Virginia University will have this season.
You might think you can make an educated assessment of a team after watching them play one game. You can’t. I used to think you could until I received gridiron salvation from the gospel of Beano Cook. Yes, that Beano - the Godfather of College Football.
Beano preaches that he who attempts to comprehensively evaluate a team after four quarters of football is doomed to failure. That’s because it takes several weeks each season to really know who’s good and who isn’t.
I’ve been a Beano believer for several years, and trust me, it’s the best way to go. The worst thing you can do is run into work this week and start to bloviate about how a team you watched this weekend will definitely go undefeated and there’s a good chance they’ll never be stopped or scored on. It’s almost a guarantee that within two weeks that same team will suffer a shocking loss and the fellas at work will be waiting at your parking space the next Monday to verbally incinerate you.
The reason week one arm-chair quarterbacking is dangerous is because you really can’t compare teams in the proper context until multiple games are played. Tennessee scored 63 points on Saturday. Does that make them an offensive juggernaut? If the Volunteers put 40 up against UCLA this Saturday, and even 30 against Florida in week three, then we’ll talk.
Do the Mountaineers have problems scoring touchdowns because they had to settle for four field goals against Liberty? It might be a little too early to make that declaration. Will West Virginia’s defense improve from week one to week two? History says yes. That’s why Beano says to reserve judgment until at least after the Mountaineers meet East Carolina, Auburn, and UConn. Trust me, the patience you display now will make you much wiser in the eyes of your football buddies.
What does history tells us, if anything, about the Mountaineers’ season opening win? Again, it’s all about context. In WVU’s 2005 season opener against Syracuse, West Virginia escaped the Carrier Dome 15-7 victors. The WVU offense didn't score a touchdown; it used field goals and an interception return by Eric Wicks for a TD. Many of us walked away from the game in a state of fear. The Mountaineers not only didn’t score a touchdown, they were 1-of-14 on third down conversions. WVU had a new starting quarterback and the offense was going to be a work in progress.
Four months later, that Mountaineer team recorded one of the school’s greatest victories ever over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to cap an 11-1 season. Show me someone who predicted a Sugar Bowl title after the win at Syracuse and I’ll show you a revisionist historian.
So a tip of the cap to Beano Cook for a lesson well learned. It’s going to take at least two, maybe even three more games, before we really know who the Mountaineers of 2009 really are, or perhaps even more importantly, who they’ll become.