Ready To Play?

One of the biggest topics of debate on message boards and around the water cooler regarding the Mountaineers' second straight Gator Bowl appearance is whether or not the team will be able to get up for the game.

Having let a chance to go to the BCS slip through their fingers not once, but twice in the final two weeks of the season, it would be easy for the Mountaineers to look at a trip to the Gator Bowl as a disappointment. If the players are disappointed, however, they certainly aren't saying anything about it.

"I think the whole team's excited. Going down to the Gator Bowl again and getting the chance to play Florida State, a big program like that, it's exciting," says junior spur safety Mike Lorello.

"We've only had a couple of practices so far. We don't see it as a letdown that we didn't make it to the BCS, we see it as a huge opportunity to play one of the most established teams in the country."

Adds Lorello's backup, senior Mike Henshaw: "I think it's a great opportunity, especially my senior year to go out and play against Florida State."

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While on the topic of Henshaw, the Brentwood, Tenn., native has the unique opportunity against the Seminoles of playing against his brother, tight end Matt. While merely being on opposing teams is unique enough, the brothers Henshaw have the chance to actually line up against one another, since Mike's position covers the tight end a lot of the time in the Mountaineers 3-3-5 defense.

"I think I would like to go against him on defense, when he'll be at tight end. Not many people get that opportunity to go against their brother, in Division I-A especially," says Mike.

When he found out the Mountaineers were playing FSU, Henshaw said the first person he called was Matt.

"I called him, and he didn't have any clue about what the situation was but once I told him, he was excited."

The boys' father, WVU grad and Tennessee Titans assistant head coach Duke Henshaw, will be able to make it to the game despite having to coach the very next day in the Music City.

"He's going to fly down on the 30th with my mom and sister, and then we'll more than likely have three individual flights back to Nashville after the game and go to the game on Sunday afternoon."

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Count Mountaineer free safety Jahmile Addae among those looking forward to playing against the Seminoles. The Floridian grew up rooting for Coach Bowden's teams.

"I was a Florida State fan my whole life growing up," Addae admitted. "When I was growing up Miami was on probation I believe, so Florida State was the team."

While the only thing the Mountaineers have been consistent in this season is penalties, Addae feels that against the Seminoles the Blue and Gold will be ready to play physically and smart.

"I think penalties have hurt us quite a bit this year, and I think the focus that we need to play our best game hasn't been reached yet.

"We have yet to play our best ball, and put it all together. I think this game we'll play our best."

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Despite internet rumors and mock drafts that have him going pro, Pacman Jones insists he still hasn't made a decision. He feels he's ready to play in the NFL, but also knows that a lot more than that will have to go into making the decision. For right now though, Jones is still a Mountaineer.

"I'm not really worried about that right now. The only thing I'm worried about Florida State right now. I sent my junior papers in, me and Coach Rod sat down and talked about it, and we'll talk about it after the ball game. Right now, I'm staying in school as far as I know," says the talented junior cornerback/return man.

A good or sub par game against the Seminoles won't tip the scales in one direction or the other.

"I don't know if the Florida State game has anything to do with my decision. I've done enough up to the Florida State game that it shouldn't impact my decision. I'm just going to sit down with my family, my coach, and the athletic director and make my decision."

Make no mistake about it: the Pacman is completely focused on gobbling up FSU.

"Bobby, he always has something different. The main thing is just to be prepared for the scheme they'll throw at you," says Jones. "We've just got to come out and play. We know Florida State is a good team, but if we play West Virginia football we'll be alright."

Pacman knows what's at stake in this game not just for this year's Mountaineers, but for the program as a whole.

"If we get this one, this would be a great win for the program, for us as a team, and as far as respect goes."

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