Breaking the Drought

How important is a bowl win to WVU's senior class? Just a few moments with Mike Lorello explains it all.

"I really can't stress show important it is to get a bowl win," said Lorello, one of the handful of seniors on the team. "None of us have had one since we've been here. That's been our goal all year. It would be spectacular for us to get a win and go out on top."

The passion and intensity in Lorello's voice give extra emphasis to the words, and left no doubt as to the zeal with which he will prepare for this game. During a brief interview, the outstanding bandit in WVU's 3-3-5 defense mentioned the importance of preparation and focus in obtaining the coveted win.

"We know we have a tough task in front of us, and we have to do our best to prepare," he said. "I don't know if you can find the ‘right' formula [to prepare for a bowl]. Sometimes you don't play as well as you want to. Sometimes maybe you tweak too much, sometimes you don't tweak enough. That's hard for me to say. But as players, we just have to take it as seriously as we do in the season with our film study and everything. It's such a long time between the last regular season game and the bowl game, you just have to stay focused. That's all you can do."

There's no doubt that Lorello is using every bit of the available time in order to prepare for the Sugar Bowl clash with Georgia, but he acknowledges that the additional practice time afforded bowl teams helps in other ways as well.

"The extra time gives us a lot of developmental periods for the younger guys," Lorello said. "They get more reps, and learn what we do. I think that's the way a lot of the programs use the extra practice time."

While many might believe that the team spends every practice moment working on the Georgia game plan, that's not the case. Several sessions, including those earlier this month, focus more on fundamentals, self-scouting, and other areas concerning WVU, not the Bulldogs.

"I think it's possible you can overdo things a little, but people tend to read to much into all that," said Lorello of the attention paid to WVU's pre-bowl routine. "You just have to be focused on what you are trying to accomplish. As we get closer to the game, we get into the scouting report more."

West Virginia's approach is designed to keep the interest of the players high, and keep the game plan from getting stale due to overwork. The team is used to having just a handful of days to prepare for games, as it opened the season with a game on seven consecutive Saturdays, so there's no reason to think that the Mountaineers will be trying to jam too much into the game plan in a short period. WVU also showed the ability to adapt to longer layoffs, such as the two-week gap between the Cincinnati and Pitt contests, so it's hoped that those experiences will help them cope with the one-month gap between the final regular season game against South Florida and the Sugar Bowl.


Lorello stuck with the theme of focusing on what he can control when he was asked the same tired, worn-out questions about the supposed inferiority of the Big East and carrying the banner for the conference in postseason play.

"As a player you don't think about that," he commented. "As a player you worry about WVU, and what we do. You can't worry about the grand scheme of things. Maybe the program, the coaches think about it a little bit, but we don't.

"As a representative of the Big East, we still want to go down and prove it is one of the strongest conferences in the country," he continued. "But you can only do so much. You have to narrow your focus down on what you are going to do. We have to focus on Georgia. They are obviously a great team."

* * *

Lorello is impressed with the collection of weapons on the Georgia offense he will be facing.

"There's a lot," he said as he recounted his recent film-watching sessions. "Obviously D.J. Shockley is a great QB, and he just has a ton of talent surrounding him. They have some of the best players in the country, so it's hard to focus on one aspect of their offense. They are potent at every position. They have guys that can make a play and take it the distance. It will be a challenge and a joy to play in a game like this."

He does think, however, that WVU has some things going for it as well.

"I think our defense works to our advantage, because not a lot of other teams see it. When you don't rep it in practice a lot, you don't get the chance to get familiar with it. We also go ‘ones on ones' (first team offense vs. first team defense) in practice every day, so we go against Pat White every day. That helps us some in playing mobile quarterbacks."

* * *

For most of the year, Lorello has been trying to avoid thinking about the fact that this is his final season as a Mountaineer. Now that the calendar has flipped down to just one game, he's still taking the same tack.

"I'm trying not to think about the fact that this is my last game. I don't think it's good to get too hyped up. That's not a good approach for me. I just have to prepare for this like I do every other game. God willing I can go out with a win and have a good game. I'll probably reminisce about it after the game, and be happy and sad about it at the same time."

BlueGoldNews Top Stories