From the Other Sideline – West Virginia
This week I interviewed Tony Dobies (Twitter). Tony is the Managing Editor at The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University’s student newspaper, and a first-year graduate student in the Perley Issac Reed School of Journalism MSJ program. He graduated from West Virginia University with an undergraduate degree in News-Editorial journalism and has been writing at The Daily Athenaeum for more than four years. Tony is also the beat writer for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. You can read an Auburn related article by Dobies here.
1. What is the first thing that pops in to the heads of West Virginia fans when Auburn football is mentioned?
When WVU fans think Auburn they initially think SEC, which comes along with speed, success, dominating defense, tradition, crazy atmospheres. For that reason, I think Auburn and other SEC schools are really intriguing to WVU fans. But, WVU as a program has built itself like an SEC team with the speed and the other things. When it comes to the Big East, there is not another team with those qualities like WVU has, so it’s not intimidating. Plus, WVU has had recent success against the SEC, too.
2. What are most West Virginia fans’ expectations for this game/WVU’s season?
I think WVU fans expect a win, but don’t believe it’s going to be easy. For the first time in a long time, the team is not on the national radar, so it’s just unusual. This game, on national T.V., is WVU’s chance to get back into the national radar. As for this year, the expectations are lowered, but not by much to our fans. Winning a Big East Championship is the goal and always will be at the school.
3. West Virginia has had lots of success against SEC teams in recent history, why do you think that is?
I guess I kind of answered this earlier, but WVU has speed – maybe not SEC speed – but pretty close. They also have the 3-3-5 defense which is tough to play against if teams don’t see it year in and year out. When West Virginia faced Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, I don’t think the Bulldogs were expecting that. And to be critically honest, even Bill Stewart said it himself at his press conference this week, the two other wins minus last year’s versus Auburn were against Mississippi State. If WVU was facing the top-notch schools in the conference every year, that record wouldn’t stand.
4. Given that most of WVU’s success had to do with Pat White and Rich Rodriguez, how do see the future of WVU football panning out now that both are gone?
Pat White and Rich Rodriguez are gone, but there is still talent – a lot of talent. The coaching staff here now is an even better recruiting staff with a focus in on Florida talent. I know a lot of people are down on WVU’s program because of Stewart, but I don’t see a drop in talent and I think the program is heading in a right direction.
5. What is your prediction for the game?
The crowd atmosphere is going to be tough to deal with, but if WVU can get a lead on Auburn and force the Tigers to throw, the Mountaineers have a good shot to win. This game, in the end, comes down to quarterback play at WVU for me. If Jarrett Brown performs like he did in his first two starts this season, the Mountaineers take the win. I like Brown to do so. I’ll take WVU 27-23.
6. What do you think Auburn and WVU’s final records will be?
Now this question is getting pretty specific. But I think WVU will finish at about 9-3 or 8-4 depending on this game. Auburn, I’m not too sure about. Looking at what they did so far this season, I’d say the Tigers are one of the most underrated teams in the country (I think WVU is, too, though). I will go either 8-4 or 7-5 for Auburn this year.
7. How will it feel when Auburn beats West Virginia by 24 and avenges last year’s second half fluke?
I’ll feel just fine, haha, and I don’t think we’ll see any LeGuarrette Blount situations. The team, on the other hand, will have a LONG flight back. In all seriousness though, it would be a crushing loss because WVU has looked much better this year than it did last year all season long.