The Times West Virginian

Sports

October 12, 2012

HERTZEL COLUMN: A short memory is needed

MORGANTOWN — As West Virginia University cornerback Pat Miller hurried off the football field last Saturday night after making the game’s biggest defensive play to clinch victory over Texas, there were cheers coming from the West Virginia section.

He’d heard such a reaction from the fans before, but this time they were real cheers, not the mocking cheers that rang out that evening against Baylor when he struggled so badly that his home crowd actually gave an ovation to his removal from the game.

Such a moment had to cut deeply into whatever it is that runs his emotions. Football, being the game it is, one that takes so much of your soul with it each week, magnifies both successes and failures and can produce both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Either way, you are vulnerable emotionally to such reactions from fans, thinking far too much of yourself when being memorialized for a good performance and far too little of yourself when being torn down for a bad one.

“It’s a part of the game, you know. I don’t really care about it too much,” Pat Miller said this week as he thought back to the effect the fans’ reaction had on him during the Baylor game.

But the way the words came out, the expression on his face told a different story. It was an expression of hurt and disappointment … disappointment in himself, yes, but also in those who had come on so harshly.

If he was going to get him on track following that incident, cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts knew he had to address it right away.

“I told Pat, ‘This is a very fickle business. People will boo you one minute and cheer you the next, so you have to put together a consecutive string of good performances,’” Roberts said.

In truth, when you give up 63 points, as WVU had against Baylor, Miller was hardly the sole culprit, and Roberts felt he had to address them all.

“I told them offensive coordinators are not going to stop passing the ball because you feel down or you feel you could’ve done better last week,” Roberts said.

He also reminded his cornerbacks to have short memories, just like the people leveling criticism. “Fans, media, they want to remember the last thing that you did, so when you go into Austin and play well, Baylor will be an afterthought.”

Well, life wasn’t a whole lot better for most of the night in Texas. The Longhorns had their way through the air, quarterback David Ash hitting 22 of 29 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown, especially early when they hit a couple of wheel routes.

“They got us on two wheel routes that was just a lack of preparation on my part,” defensive coordinator Joe DeForest admitted. “They hadn’t shown many wheel routes, and we were in a coverage we hadn’t practiced a lot. That was a preparation error on the coaches’ side.”

Miller had been victimized there and any number of other times, but the world wasn’t caving in as it had against Baylor, and then the game came down to one play, a fourth-and-13 pass play that everyone in Royal-Memorial Stadium knew would go to the man in Miller’s territory.

Only this time Miller turned on the after jets. He read the play; he closed ground; he got there just in the nick of time and batted the ball way, leaping in glee toward the sideline, where he was mobbed by happy teammates, many of them the same ones who could only look down when he walked off the field to those cheers against Baylor.

“It was exciting, but I really can’t just go off one play though,” he said when asked about it this week. “It’s just one play that’s one part of the game. You just need to go on to the next play. You can have a good play or a bad play — it’s about moving on and focusing on the next play.

“You just have to always be in the right position. I just happened to be in the right position and was able to make the play.”

It was everything Roberts had told him the week before, the fact that he would be picked upon, that no one would feel sorry for him and that it was up to him to make the play.

That can do nothing but raise his confidence, nothing but raise the confidence of the entire defense.

“You think about what happened to him against Baylor, him coming off the field and them giving him a standing ovation because we were taking him out. I don’t think that’s right. You have an 18-, 19-, 20-year old kid. He had to battle back from that,” DeForest said.

“The fact that he was successful against Texas at a critical time told him he could do it,” the coach continued. “Those kids have to have a lot of confidence and a short memory.”

Email Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@hotmail.com or follow on Twitter@bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Morgan Hoke -ts.jpg Polar Bear tennis sweeps East: PHOTOS

    Last week East Fairmont’s girls’ tennis team beat Fairmont Senior, 4-3.
    Wednesday at Fairmont State University, the Polar Bears returned the favor with a 5-2 win over their cross-town rival.
    Alissa Link won No. 1 singles, 8-4. Morgan Hoke won No. 3 singles, 9-7. And Avery Towns won No. 4 singles, 8-5, for the Polar Bears.

    April 24, 2014 8 Photos

  • Falcons set for spring game

    Football is back … well, kind of.
    Today at 7 p.m., Fairmont State will hold its annual Maroon & White spring game at Duvall-Rosier Field. The scoreboard won’t mean a whole lot since it’s little more than a glorified scrimmage. Instead, here are five things to watch during today’s game.

    April 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: NCAA football is thriving in the digital age

    The other day Baylor football coach Art Briles walked into his graduate assistants’ office and had to laugh at what he saw.
    “There’s five guys sitting in there — a couple of GA’s and some office personnel — and they all are within a foot and a half of each other and not a one of them is talking to each other,” Briles said, describing the scene “Every one of them is on the phone.”

    April 24, 2014

  • Hillberry commits to Wesleyan

    Last year Emma Harrison and Kaitlyn Conaway teamed up with Alexis Hillberry to win several relay medals at the state track meet.
    Though the two West Virginia Wesleyan runners are now in college, they helped to pass the baton to Hillberry Wednesday when she signed her National Letter of Intent to join her former teammates on the Bobcats’ track team.

    April 24, 2014

  • O’Brien leads WVU baseball past Marshall

    Catcher Cam O’Brien made a bid at becoming only the second West Virginia University player to hit for the cycle as the Mountaineers jumped on Marshall early and routed their in-state rival, 10-3, behind strong pitching from Corey Walter and a pair of relievers.

    April 24, 2014

  • North, East softball earn blowout wins

    The North Marion softball team was at it again Wednesday night.
    Mattie Polling tripled and singled, starting pitcher Chelsi Latocha doubled and gave up just one hit as the Huskies rolled to another 3-inning mercy-rule victory over Lewis County, 18-1.

    April 24, 2014

  • Simon, Bruce lead Reds past Bucs, 5-2

    Alfredo Simon pitched into the seventh inning despite erratic control, Jay Bruce drove in a run for a fifth consecutive game and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 Wednesday night.
    Simon (3-1) worked 6 2-3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks while striking out four.

    April 24, 2014

  • Pens squander lead, fall to Columbus

    Brandon Dubinsky scored with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Nick Foligno’s wrist shot just inside the blue line 2:49 into the extra session gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • FSHS #32, 29-BU #15-TS.jpg Cousins Sansalone, Craig lead Polar Bears past B-U: PHOTOS

    They say you don’t mess with family. Buckhannon-Upshur found that one out the hard way.

    April 23, 2014 7 Photos

  • Gabbi Mascaro Signing -md.jpg Mascaro signs with FSU

    Gabi Mascaro is staying in Fairmont.
    After considering several out-of-state colleges, the Fairmont Senior soccer standout signed her National Letter of Intent Tuesday to continue her career at Fairmont State University, an upstart program which will play its first games in 2015.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos