Another T.O. annoyance
There have been a few times when this space was used to rant on the egomaniacle NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens, otherwise known as T.O. That abbreviation has found another way to cause an annoyance to me. That T.O. is the abbreviation for turnover, in particular the ones the West Virginia University football team has been committing.
The six turnovers, one fumble and five interceptions, West Virginia committed against Auburn over two weeks ago almost certainly cost the Mountaineers a win in the SEC venue, probably a convincing one at that. In their next outing, last Thursday's game with Colorado, the Mountaineers continued with their generosity by fumbling the ball to the Buffaloes four times in the first 23 minutes of the game. This time West Virginia was able to overcome the mistakes and win the game 35-24, but the performance has fans, and I'm sure the WVU coaching staff, very concerned about this aspect of the team going forward.
The turnovers in the last two games have put West Virginia near the bottom of the NCAA turnover margin statistics. The Mountaineers are 118 out of 120 Division 1 schools. After four games West Virginia has 14 turnovers compared to 16 all of last season.
As bad as that sounds, there is hope. Most of the teams at the bottom of that list have losing records, the Mountaineers are 3-1. Not sure how it looked on television, but sitting in the stands it appeared that without the turnovers WVU could have had the game well in hand early on. As it was, the outcome remained in doubt into the fourth quarter.
Looking at the remainder of the schedule there are some games the Mountaineers will be decided favorites in. This kind of sloppy play will allow those opponents to have a chance to win those games. Sloppy play like we have seen lately would likely end up as losses against teams like South Florida, Cincinnati, Pitt and Rutgers.
Many say the turnover problem can be corrected. No disagreement here on that point, but there have been plenty of instances where teams plagued with turnovers never seem to shake them. Sort of like a jinx. Sometimes the more attention spent on a problem seems only to make it worse. No matter how the Mountaineer players and coaches decide to rid themselves of turnovers, the success of the season hangs in the balance.
Interestingly, West Virginia's next opponent, Syracuse, is coming off a game where they committed seven turnovers in a loss to South Florida. That game is scheduled for the Carrier Dome this Saturday at noon. The Orange are quarterbacked by former Duke point guard Greg Paulus who is using his extra year of eligibility to return to his hometown and play football.
Most WVU fans will recall the Mountaineers' 2007 NCAA Basketball Tournament win over Paulus and Duke, but how many remember that Jarrett Brown was a member of coach Bob Huggins' team that season? The stat sheet shows Paulus playing 32 minutes in that game and Brown just one minute. I personally don't recall if Brown and Paulus were on the court at the same time, but if they were, their matchup as opposing quarterbacks this Saturday would be a rarity, if not a first.
Depending on who you listen to, Paulus was at least as actively recruited coming out of high school for football as he was basketball. His play so far has been sporadic, including a turnover laden effort last week. This should be an interesting matchup.
The game is the Big East game of the week which is usually found on WJAL channel 68 out of Chambersburg. Satellite outlets scheduled to carry the game include MASN, SNY and ESPN Gameplan.