Winding Down

As the decision to postpone West Virginia's game with South Florida until Dec. 3 recedes in the distance, head Coach Rich Rodriguez believes the call, made by the Big East Conference, was the right one.

"With all that was going on, the hurricane kind of caught us by surprise," Rodriguez said of last week's events. "But way they are getting hit now, I think the right decision was made not to play it." Rodriguez didn't comment on South Florida's contention that the league favored WVU by moving the game and giving the Mountaineers a break in the schedule. However, the Bulls failed to mention that the schedule makers didn't do West Virginia any favors when they slated the Mountaineers for eight consecutive games to start the season, either.

WVU's fifth-year head coach didn't dwell on the postponement, however, choosing to focus on his plans for the coming week, and Connecticut next Wednesday. The coaches got a rare Saturday off at home, while the players were off on Saturday and Sunday before resuming practice Monday afternoon.

"I thought our guys were focused last week after the big win [over Louisville]," Rodriguez said. "They had redirected their attention to USF, but now we will begin preparations for UConn. Our guys have a lot of respect for them, and we know we will get their best shot.

"We'll resume practice again today and try to get our timing and rhythm back," he continued. "You worry about getting your tempo and execution back after being away, but we have enough practices to get that down. The guys should be fresh and ready to go."


Rodriguez noted that the break will probably help his players in more ways than one.

"We went through a long stretch, and we were getting a little banged up," said the coach. "This gave us a break for the coaches to get away from the offices, and for the players to get caught up on academic work. It came at a pretty good time for us, and hopefully we will respond to it."

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Although WVU's next three games fall on Wednesday, Wednesday and Thursday, it won't cause much of a disruption in West Virginia's routine. The Mountaineers will simply adjust their usual schedule so that Wednesday is like Saturday, and work backward from there.

The Mountaineers have no Saturday games in November, but since they have known that for several months, Rodriguez does not anticipate any major problems in the preparation schedule. One area of concern is academics, what with some additional missed class time (especially on the road trip to Cincinnati), but the current break WVU is enjoying should provide an opportunity for players to make up for some of those absences.

Overall, Rodriguez doesn't think it's a problem, and truth be told, probably wouldn't admit it if it were.

"It's not a big deal," he stressed. "We've played Wednesday games before, just not three in a row. The players and coaches have been through it before. We'll adjust to it."

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West Virginia will go through heavy contact drills Tuesday through Thursday, take Friday off, and then resume work on Saturday for UConn. Quarterback Adam Bednarik and defensive lineman Ernest Hunter will still be limited in practice until at least the middle of this week, but could be ready to play against the Huskies. Running back Jason Gwaltney is definitely still out, while the prognosis on tight end Josh Bailey is still questionable.

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