Prep Time

West Virginia worked inside this morning, getting a feel for an indoor environment and its noise level. But, head coach Rich Rodriguez said, the Mountaineers will tweak plans as the Sugar Bowl nears.

It's a part of No. 11 WVU's plan of preparation for the Jan. 2 meeting with No. 8 Georgia. West Virginia will practice a few times in its indoor facility, but will hold most of the bowl practices in Morgantown at Mountaineer Field. The reasons of harsh, abrasive turf and the size of the playing surface and the structure's height are well documented. The first of those problems will be negated next year, when WVU installs new turf. The latter two will always be a problem, especially when the Mountaineers cannot kick inside the IPF.

"With 120 guys in there it gets tight, too," Rodriguez said. "The fact that we are playing indoors lends us to get in there. We'll have at least one day of noise in there. We have had games with some noise, but I don't think anything like that."

The Georgia Dome will likely be a loud or louder than any facility WVU has ever played in. Add in that Georgia will bring the majority of fans, and the game could very much seem like a road contest.

"Knowing our quarterback and center, we can handle it," Rodriguez said. "I have been talking to our quarterbacks and telling them to be really loud. We have been almost yelling the cadence so we can do it in the game."

Quarterback Pat White, though very quiet around media, is surprisingly vocal behind center, so that should not be a problem. Noted longtime journalist Mickey Furfari: "His last phone interview was his best. He increased from two words to four."

"He better slow down then," Rodriguez said. "He needs to keep it between two and four. The quarterback has to be vocal on the field. Off the field, he doesn't have to be. I want him to be who he is."

Center Dan Mozes can also pass calls to both sides of the line, meaning WVU should be able to handle any noise problems even in its no huddle. The Mountaineers have also employed a short of half-huddle to make calls and could use that as well. It has not yet planned specifically for Georgia. That should begin in a week, as WVU has will use the next seven days almost like spring practice.

It has ran more, but there is not concern about a lack of focus, since the time WVU had off was shorter than it has ever been following the Dec. 3 USF game, the latest in school history. The players lifted twice and have now shifted into full practice mode.

"Hey, I'd rather be done Oct. 30," Rodriguez joked. "Have Thanksgiving off. Get some time. Pretty soon we will end up starting at the end of July and playing Jan. 1. Most coaches would tell you, though, that players are still in football mode. We have had this kind of layoff before the UConn game. I know the coaches (out recruiting) have not felt like we have had any time off."

There is a very slight concern over the untimely departure of third-string quarterback J.R. House. His decision to leave the team immediately forced WVU to have to find another quarterback while preparing for a BCS bowl. The Mountaineers will likely use Dwayne Thompson and not fret over traveling another player. What is lost, more than anything, is leadership.

"You get down to your third guy and you're reaching anyway," Rodriguez said. "We're not too concerned with that."

WVU won't change much, anyway. The coaching staff has had the chance to watch film just twice together because of recent recruiting. It will do so more over the next five days, and Rodriguez noted that there is so much time that one can overanalyze.

"There is a perception that you want to do all these things, put all this new stuff in and run trick plays," Rodriguez said. "All you are going to do is screw yourself up. You can put a wrinkle here and there. But it's more than likely things that you have repped this season but not run."

West Virginia won't even change its normal routines despite a three-game bowl losing streak.

"I think what they did last year or 10 years ago is irrelevant," Rodriguez said. "You can be completely prepared and go out and lay an egg. But the better you practice and prepare, the more confident you will be going into the game. Our guys will be excited and ready. I don't know if there will be any more distractions because I have never been in a BCS bowl. But they are a veteran group and know ho to put a bowl together and know what its purpose is."


* WVU will have one walk-through at the Georgia Dome. It will be an open practice, so neither team will run any of its offense.

* Rodriguez said that Georgia is the best team in the SEC. He noted their athletes are well-coached and that they play hard.

"Hopefully they make a few mistakes," he said.

* Rodriguez and WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel have both formulated base plans. The entire game plan is expected to be in by the time the team reassembles in Atlanta on Dec. 26.

* WVU's coaching staff and players actually have fewer required events than any of the other bowls under Rodriguez. Rodriguez said he will keep a close eye on his team in Atlanta.

"What bothers me is when people say that you lost games in the past because the guys went down there and they were partying or they were not focused on the game. That's the biggest bunch of crock I have ever heard," Rodriguez said. "That's ridiculous. We have went to three bowls and we have not had one guy be late or miss a meeting or a curfew or a session or anything. We have not even come close to it. It has not been a matter of our guys not being focused. It's a matter of playing well. That stuff about going down there and worrying about guys partying, that ain't gonna happen."

* Rodriguez went to four bowls in his career, the first a Peach Bowl. Rodriguez's teams went to the Gator Bowl 10 days early. He has used bowl preparation plans from California, Clemson, Florida State, Penn State and others and notes that FSU's Bobby Bowden and PSU's Joe Paterno are among the most successful bowl coaches despite having plans not much different from other coaches.

"We are not just going down there to play," Rodriguez said. "We are going to go down there and do our best to win the game."

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