Inside Job

West Virginia is through eight of its 10 Morgantown practices in preparation for the Gator Bowl, but just two of those have been outside, hindering special teams.

Because the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility's ceiling is not high enough to allow for punting or place-kicks, West Virginia has not been able to do much of that work. Kickers can still practice outside, but both the snow and the difference in the climate between Morgantown and Jacksonville are hindrances.

Add in that, with just kickers, there are no live drills where opposing players try to block kicks or bring pressure on punters, and that area will receive major focus in the next two days. WVU plans to practice outside Tuesday and Wednesday, weather permitting.

"If it is -10 with snow on the ground we won't go outside," West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "But we'd like to get out there."

West Virginia will have had 10 practices by the time it breaks for Christmas.

"That's a little more than we had last year," he said. "The practices have been shorter, but there has been more of them, which I am comfortable with. The attitude has been great."

Players have been placed in what Rodriguez terms "competitive situations." Those include inside drill runs to get tough yards and goal line work where scores are kept.

"We're trying to get our younger players to understand what it is like to play at this kind of level," he said.

WVU has practiced the entire squad, including third and fourth-teamers, but will now hone in on its top units. The Mountaineers are finished game-planning for Florida State.

The biggest change, Rodriguez noted after watching FSU's film, is that the Seminoles have changed their defense since he was at Clemson. Florida State is now changing looks and coverages more, he said, and are attempting to fool teams rather than play them straight-up and win with pure talent.

"Everybody now is using movement and zone blitzing and disguising coverages," Rodriguez said. "Florida State is playing right up in your face and forcing you to execute offensively. They play a lot of press man and bring pressure and try to eliminate easy stuff.

"They have always been a very athletic team, but they key is that they have great athletes who play hard. They play with an extra motor that the great players usually have, and they play more defensive lineman in their rotation than any team I have seen in four years here at West Virginia."

Going back to the Gator Bowl might also help, Rodriguez said, because players will be familiar with everything from the team hotel and surrounding area to practice fields and Alltel Stadium.

"I thought they adapted well last year,"Rodriguez said. "Knowing the routine might make them feel more comfortable. We won't know for sure until we get there."

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