By Mickey Furfari
MORGANTOWN — Coach Rich Rodriguez thinks this week’s open date on undefeated West Virginia’s football schedule comes at a good time.
There’s no way the No. 4-ranked Mountaineers (4-0) are going to be disenchanted after the struggling 27-10 victory at East Carolina (1-3) on a hot, muggy Saturday night.
“But, at the same time, there are some glaring things that we’ve got to get fixed in a hurry,” Rodriguez said Sunday after viewing the game tape.
“It’s hard to simulate how hot it was in Greenville (87 degrees). So we’re going to have to work a little bit and be prepared for that the best we can.”
WVU returns to the road on Saturday, Oct. 7, for another non-conference contest at Mississippi State of the SEC in Starkville, Miss.
Rodriguez recalled that he was an assistant coach at either Tulane or Clemson and met that school in a bowl game.
“They were allowed to bring their cowbells, and it was extremely loud,” he remembers. “We couldn’t really communicate at all.
“It’s even harder when you go to their place. So we’ve got to work hard and be prepared to use a lot of hand signals down there if we have to.”
Rodriguez saw some things he liked and some that he didn’t like as he studied film of Saturday night’s game.
“We had some guys that made some plays at times, and I thought the effort was pretty good,” he said. “But I was really disappointed in some of our execution on offense and defense.
“Not all the time, but at particular times. We’ve got a lot of work to get better this week.”
ECU being the team’s first road game of 2006, he thought it was a good test in a tough environment against a team that was playing very hard.
“Also, it showed some things to the coaches and to the players that we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Rodriguez said.
He didn’t think there were really “a lot of issues” playing on the road after having started the season with three games in a row at home.
Rodriguez said, “A lot of our guys had been on trips before. So it wasn’t something that they were caught off guard on.”
ECU slowed down WVU’s running game, giving up only 153 yards rushing on 42 plays, just as the Pirates did (127 yards) in losing by 20-15 at home last year.
Asked about that, the Mountaineer mentor replied:
“I’m not pushing the panic button. Some of it was we did not execute. Some of it was they made plays. Some of it we could have had a better play called at the time.
“Some of it they just got to (Steve Slaton). They called a certain defense at the right time. All of those things happened throughout the game.”
Slaton was limited to a net 80 yards on 24 carries. That was less than half his 167.7-yard average for the previous three games.
Rodriguez admittedly was a little disappointed with some fundamental things, execution-wise, and thought the Mountaineers could have done a better job.
He thought quarterback Patrick White competed pretty well against the Pirates.
“Pat made a couple bad decisions on the last two of his three intercepted passes,” he said. “But he made some nice throws and a couple nice runs.
“He had control out there and was keeping everyone calm.”
White completed 17 of 24 passes for a career-high 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 39 yards on 11 keeper plays.
Defensive lineman Johnny Dingle and cornerback Antonio Lewis suffered knee sprains. But Rodriguez said both should be OK by midweek.
Wideout Darius Reynaud sprained a wrist and also is expected back in a few days.