"We know it will be very tough, but our young men have worked hard and they have an outstanding attitude. We've had a good week of practice."
Although many observers might believe the Mountaineers might be in the doldrums after two consecutive demoralizing losses, the third year head coach is encouraged with what he sees from his team on the practice field.
"Our players have shown a lot of character, and have shown the attitude that they want to get things turned around. They have been working hard to improve, and that's encouraging. They want to get things moving in the right direction."
Of course, Rodriguez is very aware of the battle that awaits his team at the decrepit Orange Bowl on Thursday evening. In addition to the overwhelming talent level that the Hurricanes possess, Rodriguez is also impressed with the job the coaching staff at Miami is doing.
While some observers might believe that all the Miami staff has to do is throw the footballs out on the field and watch, Rodriguez believes that the teaching job done by Larry Coker and his assistants deserves a great deal of respect as well.
"They do a great job coaching their players, and they have as much talent as anyone in the country," Rodriguez analyzed. "They put their athletes in a position to make plays, and they don't overcomplicate things. They can go across the street and fill out most of their roster, but they can recruit nationally because of their name. When you put all those things together, you have a team that's going to be very good every year."
Some revamping of the starting lineups will be seen this week. Wide receiver Chris Henry will start at the X receiver spot, with Miquelle Henderson possibly moving inside to the slot position. Also, the offensive line continues to remain in a state of flux. Garin Justice is healthy and should be ready to play again this week, but Jeremy Sheffey might get the nod at right guard. Another option at that position is to move Jeff Berk to guard and insert backup Mike Watson at the left tackle position.
"We haven't made that decision yet," said Rodriguez.
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Like any coach worth his salt, Rodriguez finds both positives and negatives in the few extra days of practice and rest that the Mountianeers have had since the Maryland loss.
"You kind of hate to have a bye week after a bad loss, but we needed to get some fundamentals corrected, so from that standpoint it was good," Rodriguez noted. "I don't know if there's ever enough time to prepare for Miami, though. The more you watch them on film the more depressing it gets."