Mailbag, Part II
Continuing our double-dipping into the old 'bag today ...
Bradley from Little Birch, W. Va., writes: After all that has been said about the Mountaineers this season and all the flack that coach Stewart has caught; don't you agree he has done quite well considering? There are no other teams in transition that have 8 wins especially after losing three keys on offense from last season. Am I the only one that sees this? Am I wrong?
Brian Bennett: You could make an argument that the Mountaineers are a couple of plays away from beating East Carolina, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and being 11-1. Of course, you could make an argument that they're a couple of plays from losing to South Florida, Syracuse and Rutgers and being 5-7. Judging from Bill Stewart's comments after the season finale, I don't think anyone there is satisfied with 8-4. And let's not forget that Georgia Tech is 9-3 under a new coach. But, as you noted, coaching transitions are rarely easy, and the Mountaineers did have to replace some key parts. If West Virginia wins the bowl game, nine wins won't look so bad. If it loses, 8-5 will not look so good. You can excuse that as a first-year transition, but fans will want a lot more than that in the future.
Jeremy from Highlands, N.J., writes: Any chance Mike Teel will be drafted or make any NFL team as a free agent? Or is his playing career over? Based on the finish this season, and provided he continues to shine against NC State in the Bowl game I think an NFL coaching staff could make him into a strong pocket passer. His arm strength and accuracy are all there, I just think he needs someone to help him understand how to read defenses and coverages better. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett: I'm no Mel Kiper Jr., but from what I hear Teel isn't real high on the NFL radar. However, even if he goes undrafted, he should get a look in camp because this senior quarterback class is extremely light on pro prospects. Teel has good size and decent arm strength, so he could latch on in the right situation.
Jeremy from Jodie, W. Va, writes: Why isn't Pat White a Heisman finalist so maybe he doesn't have the cannon arm like these other QB's but he is the nation's all time leading rusher at QB that has to stand for something.
Brian Bennett: Because his team is 8-4. Really, that's the biggest part. And though he's been great, his numbers this year aren't as dazzling as the past two seasons. The Heisman is a single-season trophy, not a lifetime achievement award.
Chris from Wallingford, Conn., writes: Very disappointing last couple of months for the Huskies. After their 5-0 start I figured the worst they could do was finish at 8-4 with a 4-3 league record. I think you're being kind when you call the passing game "inept". It is an absolute embarrassment. Edsall and his staff had better make this priority No. 1 in the offseason. Edsall reminds me of Joe Torre with his blind loyalty for players (in this case, Tyler Lorenzen). After seeing all 3 QB's this year, I'll take my chances with Endres. To be fair, it's not all Lorenzens's fault either. First drive of the game on Saturday and the WR drops a pass inside the 10. Next play was a penalty and then a missed FG. And for some reason, our O-Line can open holes for the nation's leading rusher, but cannot protect the QB against a 4 man rush. If you've watched every snap of the year like I have, you would find it all the more remarkable what Donald Brown was able to accomplish this year. Pitt had no respect at all for the passing game, and Brown still almost went for 200. I guess my question to you is, if you were Edsall, would you replace Lorenzen with either one of the young kids? Just to get them more reps in practice to get ready for next year?
Brian Bennett: Well, we also saw what Zach Frazer did when he relieved Lorenzen, throwing three interceptions in four pass attempts. And Endres was dreadful in the second half against West Virginia. A big part of the problem is the lack of dependable receivers, and the line is built for a running game, not an aerial assault. It's definitely an area that needs to be addressed in the offseason. As far as the bowl, I think Edsall owes it to his seniors to try and win the game and put the best guy he has under center, whoever that might be. It's still probably Lorenzen.
Kevin from Pittsburgh writes: I know it means nothing now, but did the NCAA or the Big East ever address how the Cincy-Pitt game ended with the fans running onto the field while the play was in progress? NCAA rules say that it should be a 15-yard penalty on the home team and that the opposing team gets one untimed down to be played, but that never happened. I was just wondering if you ever heard anything more on this. Why it was not called and what the the reasoning for not calling it was? Thanks
Brian Bennett: I have not heard from any officials as to why no penalty was called, though I have seen it happen in other games where no flag was thrown. It appears to be a judgment call on the part of the refs. As bad as the field-rushing could have been, I do not think it had any effect on the play, because Pitt did not get close enough to the oncoming crowd while it was trying to lateral its way down the field. The Big East has told me that it has a league rule about keeping fans off the field at all times, but it's up to the schools to enforce it. There is no fine against schools for storming the field like there is in the SEC. If a school continually violated the policy, then the Big East would take some action.
Nathan from Pittsburgh writes: With the season winding down, all the stats are in. How come LeSean McCoy, or even Donald Brown, are not getting any Heisman love? Pitt is 9-3 and better record than both Georgia and Oregon State. This being said, how comes J. Rodgers and K. Moreno are getting Heisman nods and Lesean McCoy isn't. McCoy has better stats and is the main reason why Pitt has had its best record since 1982.
Brian Bennett: Again, any time your team is not in BCS title contention, you have to put up otherworldly numbers to gain consideration. McCoy and Brown have had fabulous seasons, but not enough to overcome their teams' records. I don't hear anyone mentioning Rodgers or Moreno as serious Heisman candidates. Besides, this is an incredibly strong year for Heisman candidates with Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree.
Larry from Arvada, Colo., writes: The Big East officiating crews are TERRIBLE... especially the ones who are doing the reviews. There have been WAY too many bad calls this year and upheld, when the viewer,
the announcers and anyone with a brain can see it is the wrong call. Who is responsible for this awful representation of the Big East conference? It is a time for a change. After the last two years, the Big East schools need the same quality of officials. All games should be reviewed during the off season and those officials who have blown calls be changed or taught the rules. Just review the WVU game and how many calls went against WVU that were incorrect. Their mistakes kept WVU out of the BCS.
Brian Bennett: Actually, I think the Big East officiating has improved over last season, when there were some outright terrible calls that were highly controversial. I can't think of many huge mistakes this year. Any officiating crew in any conference is going to make mistakes from time to time. Bad calls kept WVU out of the BCS? Now there's one I hadn't heard before.
Matt from Piscataway, N.J., writes: Obvious blown call by the refs at the end of the WVU/USF game. USF would have had the ball at the 2 yard line with a fresh set of downs, and a very good shot at coming out of Morgantown with a victory. Reminded me of the 2006 3OT game in Morgantown when Ray Rice was clearly held as the ball was in the air, but with no call and a win for WVU. Is there any way to find out if any of the crew from 2006 was on the field?
Brian Bennett: I did think that was pass interference on that play, but as many times as South Florida turned the ball over, especially in the red zone, the Bulls had only themselves to blame. And besides, Matt, didn't you hear that the officials were keeping WVU down?
Collin from Syracuse writes: All right, I'm looking at the standings and just wondering how it works. Does it go by overall record or head to head? In the standings Syracuse is ahead of Louisville even though they have a worse overall record yet they beat them head to head, Rutgers and Pitt are both 5-2 yet pit is ahead of them even though Rutgers beat them. Explain please.
Brian Bennett: Tiebreakers are only used to determine first place for the BCS. The rest will remain ties. In other words, Rutgers, Pitt and West Virginia are all 5-2 and are viewed as tied for second place. There's no need to break the tie. Bowls pick based on who they want, not on who finishes where.
Keith from Clifton writes: You commented in your mailbag to someone about the International Bowl that you were not sure of the experience since you were never there. First off, kudos to your response of support for the Big East and international travel. Secondly, I love that bowl although I obviously would like a better opponent. Toronto is an awesome city with great nightlife and just wanted to say if you get the opportunity take it! I have been blessed to attend all of the RU Bowl games (minus the Garden State Bowl in 1978) and right now Toronto was No. 2 after Arizona and before Houston. Anyway, just wanted to give you some feedback about the Freezer Bowl and let you know that you are doing a great job.
Brian Bennett: Yeah, I know it's cold in Toronto, but the game is indoors and the cultural experience is hard to match. It's infinitely better than going to Birmingham.
Mohammed from New York City writes: First of all, great work this season. As a Rutgers supporter, this season sure had its downs and ups. I really expected something more, but after a 1-5 start, I'm happy where we ended up. What I want to know is what you think the season will be next year for my Knights. We lose Britt and the (now) lovable Mike, so is there anyone good enough to replace them? And do you think the bowls will finally realize next year that Rutgers brings with it the entire NYC market?
Brian Bennett: We don't really know if there's anyone who can replace Teel, because hardly anybody got a shot at playing there this year. D.C. Jefferson was a big-time recruit, but he hasn't seen the field. Incoming freshman Tom Savage is highly-rated as well, but again, he's proved nothing. It will be really interesting to see where Greg Schiano goes with this. As for Kenny Britt, assuming he leaves, I doubt there's anyone on campus who can do all the things he does. And I don't know if the Birmingham trip will do anything to help Rutgers' standing, because it's such a bad bowl to begin with.