West Virginia University's football team defeated Western Michigan 62-24 on Saturday, but now we are left to determine what that victory may mean for the third ranked Mountaineers. There are a vast number of perspectives out there to consider, but for now we will deal with just one, mine.
We will need more time to determine just how much of a quality win this was. In recent years of the Rich Rodriguez tenure WVU has enjoyed lopsided season opening wins over teams like Tennessee Chattanooga, East Carolina and Marshall. UTC was a 1AA opponent while Marshall and ECU were at low point in their programs.
Time will tell, but Western Michigan is supposed to be a decent team this year. They were picked to win the Mid American Conference this year. They had most of their starters back on a defense which was ranked sixth nationally last season. That said, the Broncos had no answer for the WVU offense and my guess is that few teams will be able to solve WVU's speed and talent on offense.
WMU seemed to have a handle on WVU running back Steve Slaton, but a third quarter run of 58 yards allowed the Heisman Trophy candidate to eclipse the 100 yard mark. Slaton ended up with 109 yards on 16 carries. While WMU was concentrating on Slaton, West Virginia quarterback Pat White showed that he may indeed be the top Heisman candidate on this team. White, always poised in his previous two seasons, may be even more poised entering his junior season. White always had a live arm, but now his throws seem to have more precision to them. His passing stats were 10 of 18 for 192 yards, but five to six of the incompletions should have, or at least could have been caught.
While White's throws were impressive, a 38 yard touchdown run was the highlight. It looked like a broken play, but White spun away from a couple tackles, found open field, slowed down, then directed his blockers as he sliced the final 10 yards untouched into the end zone. It was extraordinary and White is definitely a special player. More than one ESPN talking head has referred to White as college football's best quarterback.
The defense remains a concern. The West Virginia defense would play two great downs, but then give up too many third and long first downs. Again, it is too early to say the defense is not improved. WMU may be a very good opponent.
Time will tell.