This And That

The Mountaineers unveiled a few new looks in Saturday's win over Maryland. Most noticeable was the blue trim around the gold batwings along the sides of the away jerseys. Another noticeable change? How about the first career start for redshirt freshman offensive guard John Bradshaw?

"It was great," said Big John of his first start in the Blue and Gold. "I like doing it. Being at Maryland, my family was down there for the game."

The 6'6" 290-pound Fredericksburg, Va. native lined up in place of junior Dan Mozes, who replaced Jeremy Hines as the Mountaineers' starting center against Maryland.

"I had a few butterflies, but as soon as I got out there and started rolling I settled down a little bit," he said of his first start.

While the coaches certainly have tremendous confidence in Bradshaw, he admitted that there were a few things that he had to get used to. First on that list was the speed of the game, something that can't be fully appreciated in practice.

Still, having Mozes one spot to his right was a big help if for no other reason than Mozes himself first started at left guard as a true freshman.

"Mozes was there, and I was asking him questions to make sure of what I was supposed to do, and that kind of thing," said the towering, but reserved, Mountaineer lineman. "Dan has been very helpful for me."

He also noted that the offensive line as a group hangs together and supports each other, both on and off the field.

"The whole o-line, we stick pretty tight, and I guess they've accepted me," he said laconically.

If all goes as planned, Bradshaw will start again on Saturday when the Mountaineers face East Carolina. Although the Pirates aren't held in the same low regard as the hated Terrapins, Bradshaw will treat this Saturday just like any other.

"I try to take every week the same, like it's equally important," he said. "I'm just trying to improve overall, and get everything going."

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Count linebacker Boo McLee among those who feel that Dee McCann may be the hardest hitter on the Mountaineer defense. While Saturday's game against Maryland was really the first time Mountaineer fans have seen McCann unleash his cruelty on the opposition, nobody on the team was surprised at his prowess on the field.

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"Dee brings the wood, man," said McLee of the senior cornerback. "He does that all the time in practice, but he just had to show off for the TV."

"When I see them coming I'm like ‘Well look what I've got here," said McCann. "I love to hit, I love hitting, especially against the big boys when I play football."

You can chalk up the Maryland comeback in the fourth quarter as the source for McCann's aggression.

"I told Jahmile (Addae) that we had to get it. I went in there mad, knowing what we had to do, and then we did it," said McCann, after seeing the defense give up two quick Maryland scores. "That's the first time I've ever seen a defense getting the kill shot every play. They didn't want to catch the ball."

McCann offered all this while clutching the Hammer Award, which he was given by the Mountaineer coaching staff this week.

"I'll probably put it in a glass frame or something," he said of the small hammer which had his nameplate attached to it.

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One of my duties as a writer for our print edition of the Blue and Gold News is to transcribe the quotes from both locker rooms following every Mountaineer football game. After every game this season, and during several interviews during the week, the players have given credit to Mike Barwis and the rest of the Mountaineer strength and conditioning staff for their physical condition throughout the game.

In my opinion, this reason is as big as any other for the Mountaineers' 3-0 start. Watching the games, the team looks incredibly fresh come the fourth quarter. From the lines to the secondary to the skill positions, every player looks like they have gas left in the tank when the other team is on its last legs. The Mountaineer players work together with the strength and conditioning staff throughout the summer and the season to get in the best shape possible.

According to running back Jason Gwaltney, the hard work has paid off.

"The things we had to go through this summer," he began, then paused and continued, "I can't lie...I hated it. But now at the end of the games when I'm watching the other (team) bending over, and I'm ready to keep playing, or ready to go play another game, that's a great feeling. It makes you want to play even harder and give it all you've got."

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