Love Battles Through Injuries

Family and friends of West Virginia defensive end Tim Love wear T-Shirts during Mountaineer football games that proclaim "Love Hurts". That excellent play on words has been true in more ways than one throughout Love's career at WVU.

One one level, Tim Love definitely puts a hurt on opponents with his rugged play along the defensive front. The 6-4, 275 pound senior is one of West Virginia's hardest workers and most intense competitors.

In another sense, though, "Love Hurts" has been all too literal. Tim has been beset by a variety of injuries throughout his WVU career, and his hopes for an injury-free spring went by the boards last Saturday when he sustained a knee injury during a scrimmage. The good news is that there appeares to be no ligament damage to the knee. Love will, however, miss the remainder of the spring.

Before the injury hit in last Saturday's scrimmage, Love was comfortable with the progress that the defense had made in learning the new scheme.

"At first it was sort of rocky, but I feel that we are getting our timing down and our rhythm down, so it's coming along," Love said. "Our intensity is getting up a little bit too."

One of the concerns of installing a new defense is the cohesiveness factor. Players get used to the guy next to them or behind them acting and reacting certain ways in certain situations.

Throw in a new defense, and in addition to simply learning the assignments, defenders must alse reestablish that comfort level with those playing around them. Love notes that different situations come into play when assessing who has to work best with whom.

"If we're playing a base defense, then the whole line needs to be working together. If it's a blitz, the linebackers have to have our timing down, and we have to hit it at the right moment. It's not a big problem working with different people, but the timing can be a little bit of a problem for them. It doesn't bother me that much."

In addition to the new scheme, Love and his teammates along the defensive line have also been getting used to new coach Paul Randolph. The group's heads have to be spinning after having to learn three different fronts for three different coaches in the last three seasons, but Love says that Randolph has done everything possible to ease the transition.

"He has gotten to know us on a personal level first. He'll call us in and talk to us whenever he sees us. He always makes sure to say 'hello' or ask us how things are going.

"The biggest thing is that he's maintained a positive attitude. He's upkey, and his criticism is always constructive criticism."

Randolph's career in the CFL also carries weight with his players, who know that Randolph not onlly talks the talk, but has also walked the walk as a professional player.

That's not to say that someone who has not played in the pros can't command respect. However, professional playing experience on a coach's resume is an immediate attention getter for his players.

"He was in the pros," Love says. He's been there and he knows how to do it. He can show us the moves that will help us and fit the types of players that we are."

One other factor that has come into play for the team this spring has been the strange weather patterns, which has seen everything from snowstorms to ninety degree heat visit the practice fields. Such climate changes can have effects on players, especially in resistance to injuries.

"It messes with our bodies," Love notes. "Your legs get beat down when its cold, then when you go inside and it's warm it affects you in other ways. I've been here a while now, so I'm getting used to it."

That last statement might apply to Love's injury status as well. As a plyer who has played hurt as often as he has played healthy, Love has proved he knows how to deal with adversity. Mountaineer fans hope he gets a chance to show his talents in a injury-free manner this fall.

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