CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The views from here:To say West Virginia's players will have their hands full at Baylor on Saturday is like saying Obamacare is somewhat controversial.
The Mountaineers have to feel better about themselves after upsetting Oklahoma State. Yet, again, there are quarterback issues. WVU will be heading to Waco after the Bears enjoyed an off week, and Baylor is only ranked No. 1 nationally in total offense, scoring offense, passing offense, passing efficiency, tackles for loss and red-zone defense.Oh, and there's one other thing.
You know those outcries regarding WVU special teams coach Joe DeForest? The numbers say they're warranted. In a big way.The Mountaineers have one shining beacon in the area of special teams. That, of course, is punter Nick "Boom Stache" O'Toole, who is ranked No. 14 nationally with his 44.8-yard average. In net punting, WVU is No. 8 at 42.81. (In this game, that will be countered by Baylor's Spencer Roth. In his seven punts, he's averaging 48.6 yards, with a long of 72. He is unranked in NCAA stats, though, because he doesn't have the minimum of 3.6 punts per game. Baylor is averaging 2.3 after three games. Think about that.)Otherwise, the eyes of Mountaineer fans have not been deceiving them. Their team's special teams have been ugly. Like the type of ugly that might spur a coach to make sweeping changes.Below are WVU's rankings. Please understand I'm referencing the FBS rankings, which include just 123 teams.Kickoff return defense: No. 102Kickoff returns: No. 110Punt return defense: No. 42Punt returns: No. 102In the field goal percentage stat, WVU's Josh Lambert is tied at No. 86 at .600 after hitting 6 of 10.In the superfluous field goals per game stat, WVU is tied for 20th at 1.5.In kickoff returns, WVU's Ronald Carswell is No. 111 with an 18.7-yard average.
In punt returns, Carswell is No. 55 with a 7.5 average.Understand that, in regard to the latter ranking, WVU has had two other punt returners. Jordan Thompson and Mario Alford have a combined minus-5 yards on their four returns.The tough part for DeForest and Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen? The stats don't even include other uglies, like muffs, fumbles and decisions to field punts inside the 10.While on that last subject, will someone please explain to me why a player can't be disciplined enough to plant their feet on the 10-yard line and not move back to field a punt?WVU athletic director Oliver Luck joined me for an unplugged sports chat in Cross Lanes on Monday.
It was a great success and, yes, Luck was asked about the impending athletic-director opening at Texas.
"I'm not going to comment on something personal," he said.It was the exact way he handled the rumors linking him to the Stanford opening, which went to Bernard Muir in late July of 2012.What Luck did say is there are plans to replace the Mountaineer Field turf after the 2014 season, although the crown will probably stay in place. He also mentioned the athletic department is looking at renovations/upgrades to the stadium concourse area. He mentioned restrooms and concessions.And finally . . .
I spoke to WVU basketball assistant coach Billy Hahn on Tuesday.As many around the Mountain State know, Hahn's wife, Kathi, beat ovarian cancer, but was subsequently diagnosed with leukemia.Well, Hahn's daughter, Ashley Calvery, has been so moved by her mother's battle that she wrote a book: "My Mom The Miracle: 1 Woman, 2 Cancers, 3 Years, 4-Ever Grateful." The book is not in print, but can be ordered for an iPad or kindle, etc., through Amazon.com."You'll have a tear in your eye; you'll laugh; and in the end you'll be touched," said the hoops coach.Correction: Said the very proud hoops coach.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.