Gather round everybody for our inaugural edition of perception versus reality. It’s a fun little exercise which will prove what we think isn’t necessarily true.
Let’s begin with some preseason beliefs that proved to be incorrect.
Perception 1: With three new starters on WVU’s offensive line, the Mountaineer offense will struggle to run the ball.
Reality 1: West Virginia enters Saturday’s game at Syracuse 18th nationally in rushing the football. Junior Noel Devine leads the Big East and is third nationally in rushing.
Perception 2: With a new punter and field goal kicker, West Virginia’s kicking game will be average at best.
Reality 2: West Virginia is second in the conference and 18th nationally in net punting. Senior Scott Kozlowski is averaging 48 yards per punt with a long of 63. Kozlowski was named the Big East Special Teams Player of the Week last week, and freshman Tyler Bitancurt is a perfect 5 of 5 in field goal attempts.
Perception 3: With the bulk of WVU’s defense returning this unit will smother opponents.
Reality 3: WVU’s defense is currently fifth in the conference in total defense and sixth in scoring defense. Injuries (namely Reed Williams and Scooter Berry) and 14 turnovers have not allowed the WVU defense to really operate at peak efficiency.
Perception 4: You can’t win football games if you turn the ball over.
Reality 4: West Virginia has coughed up the oblong spheroid a Big East-high 14 times and is second to last in the country in turnover margin. Despite its propensity to puke the pigskin, the Mountaineers are 3-1.
Perception 5: Greg Paulus is a basketball player. You can’t go away from football for four years and then jump in and play.
Reality 5: Paulus is second in the Big East and 28th nationally in total passing. Paulus is third in the conference in passing yards, which ranks him 40th nationally.
Perception 6: Cincinnati’s defense, which lost 10 starters, will be average at best.
Reality 6: The Bearcats are second in the Big East and 12th nationally in scoring defense. UC is allowing less than 13 points per game.
Perception 7: If you sack the quarterback you’ll have a good pass defense.
Reality 7: Pitt leads the nation in sacks. The Panthers are fifth in the Big East and 82nd nationally in pass defense.
Perception 8: All South Florida has is quarterback Matt Grothe. Without Grothe the Bulls offense is nothing.
Reality 8: Since losing Grothe to a season-ending injury, the Bulls are 2-0 with roads wins at Florida State and Syracuse.
Perception 9: Rutgers’ non-conference football schedule is very weak.
Reality 9: Rutgers' non-conference football schedule IS very weak. Four of the Scarlet Knights five non-conference opponents have losing records. The combined record of their three creamiest creampuffs (Florida International, Howard, and Texas Southern) is 3-9.
Perception 10: The Big East Conference is the weakest of the six BCS conferences.
Reality 10: The Big East is second only to the SEC in winning percentage in non-conference games. The ACC holds the designation of worst among the big six conferences. The ACC is 21-13 in non-league games.
I hope you enjoyed our little excursion into reality. The next time you’re thrust into an emotional football debate you now have two options: use the facts to overcome your opposition or just yell louder.
Normally the one that’s yelling the loudest is the one without the facts.
If you’re heading to Syracuse don’t forget to bring your radio. You can hear the MSN broadcast on our in-stadium transmitter at 88.7 FM.
We’ll see you this weekend!
Tony Caridi begins his 13th full season as radio play-by-play announcer for Mountaineer football and basketball on MSN and his 24th overall with the network. Tony has become a household name throughout the state for his work on MSN. Prior to 1997, Caridi served as play-by-play man for the network's football replay telecasts. Along with his play-by-play duties, Caridi continues to serve as a co-host and feature contributor for the popular television shows Mountaineer Magazine and Mountaineer Jammin'.
Follow Tony on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tonycaridi
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