MORGANTOWN — While pleased with West Virginia’s overall performance in the 31-3 victory at previous No. 25 Rutgers, coach Rich Rodriguez said Sunday afternoon “we can still play better.”

In viewing game tapes, he thought the seventh-ranked Mountaineers executed very well at times. But he also noted some missed assignments here and there at soggy Rutgers Stadium on Saturday.

He was especially pleased with the performance of his steadily improving defense. “They’re playing with more confidence and not making as many missed assignments,” he said. “A lot of guys played good football, and we’ve got to be pleased.

“But, again, we can still play better on defense.”

Rodriguez disputed a published item quoting a sideline reporter for ABC TV as saying WVU had to change its signals late in the week because somebody divulged to the Rutgers staff the original signals.

“That’s not true,” the Mountaineer mentor stated.

He had indicated earlier in the week that he planned to change some signals from the sideline just in case the regular ones had become known. But he emphasized that he had no information about any signal-stealing.

Rodriguez is happy that it’s now a fact WVU can control is own destiny and capture the Big East Conference championship and earn a bid to a BCS bowl. It’s something he had told his players could happen after their Sept. 28 loss at South Florida, 21-13.

Connecticut handed the Bulls their second league loss on Saturday, setting up the possibility for the Mountaineers if they sweep their remaining four games.

“I think our guys now know that we can control our destiny,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been taking that approach since a few weeks ago. There’s still a third of the season left.

“But nothing has changed. You’ve got to take one play at a time. We’re not worried about the fourth, third or second games (remaining). We’re worried only about the first play of the Louisville game, then go from there.”

Rodriguez said Mike Dent has been solid all season as the starting center. Five or six snaps were not very good, the coach acknowledged. But some were caused by the terrible conditions created by a hard, driving rain.

One bad snap that sailed over quarterback Patrick White’s head for a huge loss was caused by some confusion and noise issues, according to the head coach. The ball was snapped at the wrong time.

Rodriguez praised both White, who accounted for 300 yards in total offense, and tailback Steve Slaton, who rushed 16 times for 73 yards, caught a 51-yard pass and scored three touchdowns.

“Pat ran very, very well,” he noted. “He had some big runs. He’s such a dangerous guy. Everybody knows he’s going to have opportunities.

“Steve is an explosive player, too. He’s played hard all year, even though his numbers are down a little bit. He’s been consistent, especially in this game.”

He believes the offensive line had a solid game against Rutgers. “We went up against a team that gave us a lot of different looks,” he noted. “Their defense is unconventional.

“We’ve played better at times this year. But overall, against that scheme, our guys played pretty well. It was a good team effort.”

The Mountaineers will work on correcting some things this week. And with some extra time before the Thursday, Nov. 8, home game against Louisville, they probably will add to the game plan.

React to this story:


Trending Video