Goal: Finish Strong

It is the dream of every athlete to end their collegiate career on a high note. However, that dream hasn't looked promising for senior linebacker J.T. Thomas and the rest of the Mountaineer senior class after losses in the past two games.

Coming off of a bye week, Thomas assures that his team is more than ready to get back on the field and change that outlook.

"Guys are eager to get this monkey off of their back," said Thomas. "No one likes this feeling. The urgency to get a win is there. Guys are flying around. Today was probably the most competitive practice I've seen in a long time. Both sides are really excited."

While fans and media have been quick to criticize everything from the Mountaineer coaches to the players, Thomas says that the team hasn't paid attention to the negativity.

"You would be surprised at how much we don't pay attention [to the critics]," said Thomas. "We understand that it is going on but at the end of the day we're worried about what we have to do to make this team better. Our guys have a sense of focus."

While trying to stay out of the negativity, there's no doubt that the squad is aware of the situation it is in. WVU will likely have to win out in order to have even a slim chance at a Big East championship, and even if that isn't achievable, a strong finish would help in pursuit of a better bowl game. As a senior, Thomas has a bit of perspective on the situation.

"I think to me, being an older guy, I see the bigger picture," said Thomas. "The younger guys, I don't know if they don't think we have a chance now, but the Big East is so wild and crazy. It's really like a big scramble going on right now and you never know how it's going to work out."

With four games remaining in their schedule, the team realizes that every game is extremely important. They know that they the little bit of breathing room they had as far as losing any more games is concerned. And for seniors like Thomas, the countdown is also on for their WVU careers, and they want to make sure they take advantage of every opportunity to finish strongly.

"Everyone knows that now we are in a must win situation," said Thomas. "So yeah, you can call it a gut check. It's not like we haven't had good focus the last two weeks but now guys have to be even more focused. I think guys understand that we've had one chance, we've had another chance. We had two second chances if you want to put it like that."

This one, then, is likely a third and last chance for the Mountaineers, at least in terms of a Big East title. It's also a third chance for Thomas and his classmates to get a win over UC. The Bearcats have won the last two head-to-head meetings on the way to a league title, so the Mountaineers would love nothing more than to use a victory over UC as a springboard to the same destination.

"The fact that we have lost two years in a row [to Cincinnati] is one way to look at it," said Thomas. "Another way to look at it is that we just lost two games. You definitely want to win. I think the team is aware that this is a must win for our program. We definitely want to get going in the right direction by getting a win here this Saturday."


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