The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 27, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Iowa State comes to Morgantown hot off a victory

MORGANTOWN — Last week, Iowa State, which comes to Mountaineer Field at 4 p.m. Saturday to put a merciful end to West Virginia’s football season, played a game against Kansas that might have been better served being shown on The Weather Channel than any of the sports channels available.

The Cyclones went into the game without a Big 12 victory and Kansas went in riding high off its first conference victory in more than two years the week before over West Virginia, leaving the talk to turn to the weather rather than the game.

Just before kickoff the thermometer read 8 degrees and it was down to 3 degrees by the start of the second half, making it the coldest game in Jack Trice Stadium history.

It was not, however, the coldest game in Paul Rhoads history.

“That was in Morgantown in 2005,” recalled the Iowa State head coach who at that time was the defensive coordinator for Dave Wannstedt. “I felt that was colder because of the wind blowing.”

It might have been the wind, or maybe the breeze created as the WVU backs continually rushed past him on the way to a 45-13 West Virginia victory.

Pat White, just a freshman, was rushing for a Big East record 220 yards, breaking Michael Vick’s record of 210 and scoring twice, and Steve Slaton was adding another 176 yards with three scores on a day when the wind chill was recorded at 7 degrees.

Regardless, Rhoads would get his taste of revenge two years later when White and Slaton had reached full maturity and stood at No. 2 in the nation and needed only to defeat a bad Pitt team — no, a terrible Pitt team — to advance to the national championship game, which nearly everyone felt they would win.

On this day, though, Rhoads devised a scheme that stopped the Mountaineers — dare we use the word cold? — as a four-touchdown underdog Pitt team won, 13-9.

White was knocked out of the game for two quarters with a head injury and finished with 14 carries for 41 yards, while Slaton had nine carries for 11 yards.

In the previous two games, White and Slaton had combined for 831 rushing yards.

Rhoads, on this occasion, just dared WVU to throw deep down the middle and Rich Rodriguez refused to accept the dare, and because of it WVU football history changed, not getting the shot at its only national title and Rodriguez leaving.

Had WVU won that game, won a national title, who knows? It might now be playing in the ACC instead of Pitt with Rodriguez still its coach.

But back to today, where Rhoads brings his team in fresh off that wintry victory behind quarterback Grant Rohach, who threw for 300 yards in the most difficult of conditions.

“He was nothing short of magnificent. The kid played a great football game. He threw strikes on a night when you did not think that could happen, with hands like cardboard and footballs like bricks. It was magnificent,” Rhoads said.

He certainly impressed Dana Holgorsen, who knows something about quarterbacks.

“They’ve found their routine offensively. Their quarterback, a redshirt freshman — how do you pronounce his name? — is doing a lot of good things. They’re doing a lot with him. They have a couple receivers and running backs that they get it to a lot, and they look good. They have a huge offensive line. They’re really good.”

In fact, Holgorsen believes they are good enough to call them “the best 2-9 team in the country,” which may not be quite the compliment he meant it to be, but you get the message.

Rhoads has a way of making his team play hard and in Ames they have complete confidence that he is going to get as much out of Iowa State as he can, there being no public talk about his job being in jeopardy.

This could be in part because of a no-nonsense, straightforward approach to the game that even Holgorsen notices.

“They’re very well coached, and they don’t try to trick you. It’s one of the more simple schemes in the country, but it’s hard. They’re tough. They have some linebackers that are tremendous football players,” he said. “They are coming off some tough losses this year and will probably have a lot more confidence coming into this game. They’re going to come in here and try to take us.”

Meanwhile, Rhoads spends time thinking how he enjoyed the victory over Kansas with his team, then went home with his wife to thaw out.

“It took a while,” he said. “The wife and I went home to an empty house, sat by the fire watching games. I was sore from jumping around after the game. Make no mistake, it was cold.”

But he had a warm feeling after it.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Bob Herzel
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Jackie Robinson’s impact extends beyond baseball

    It is Jackie Robinson Day as I sit here writing this today, and I feel as though I am doing it in a world gone mad.
    Every player in Major League Baseball wore No. 42 on Tuesday in honor of Jackie Robinson, the man who took racism’s best shot and integrated the game that was known then as the National Pastime even though it was as white a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads