Much is made each week in college football about what a coach is doing to motivate his team, but for Lance Frazier, no fiery pre-game speech or bulletin board quote can motivate him as much as redeeming the ugly loss to the Badgers last year.
"They really exploited our defense in the second quarter and made us look really bad," remembers the Delray Beach, Fla. native. "We did not know a lot about our new defensive scheme and they found a way to hit our weak points."
The confusion on the Mountaineer defense allowed the Badgers to record 27 second quarter points and put the game out of reach early. The Mountaineers were able to correct most of those mistakes as the game progressed and held Wisconsin scoreless in the final two periods, but it was too little, too late for WVU.
"We made some corrections at halftime and really tightened things up" the senior recalled. "We are going to rely on those corrections this season and start off where we left off last year in Wisconsin."
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in the way of the Mountaineers' revenge is Lee Evans, UW's career receiving leader. The senior, who was a first-team All-American in 2001, missed all of 2002 with a knee injury but is ready to return and make a major impact.
"He truly may be the best receiver in the country" commented Mountaineer head coach Rich Rodriguez. "This will be a real challenge for our group of defensive backs, but I think they are ready."
Frazier certainly agrees.
"Anytime you have a big game like this and have a chance to shine in front of a national crowd, you have to bring your A game" commented number 19. "We are playing against a talented group of guys that really did some damage against us last year, and we are looking forward to trying to change that around this weekend."
While Frazier's thoughts are clearly focused on Wisconsin alone, the athletic coaching major knows that he will have to carry a major load throughout the entire season if the Mountaineers hope to repeat the success they experienced in the closing weeks of 2002. The defensive back spot is one of the most experienced positions on this youthful Mountaineer defense, and Frazier, along with fellow cornerback Brian King, will have to be a leader both on and off the field.
"Last year's seniors were great leaders, and now it is up to us to step up and fill that role" stated Frazier. "Guys like Angel Estrada were great leaders on this defense who were willing to give up anything to have success. I really learned a lot from those guys and now I am ready to pick up where they left off."
Starting the season with a Big Ten power like Wisconsin is a tough challenge, but it appears as though the Blue and Gold are ready to meet that challenge head on. The veteran Mountaineers saw just how much they could accomplish in 2002, and they are prepared to try to accomplish even more in year three of the Rich Rodriguez era. The coaches are ready, the players are ready, and most of all the gold and blue faithful are ready. Let's Bring On The Mountaineers!