Opening Moves

West Virginia's practice efficiency took a drop in the first session in Atlanta, but head coach Rich Rodriguez was not overly concerned.

"We had a couple of days off, so we have to break the rust off and have a good physical practice and get their minds back on the game," the WVU head coach said as his team prepared for its first session at the Westminster School in northwest Atlanta. "We had good practices [in Morgantown], but we had to go inside a couple of times because of the weather. We went outside even with weather in the 20s a couple of time, although we had good physical practices there too."

Rodriguez' concerns mostly centered on a rainy forecast for the next day or so, in light of the grass surfaces his team will be practicing on the next week. Although WVU has the use of two full fields, rain could cause problems.

"If the weather stays nice, it is perfect," Rodriguez said of the facilities. "If it rains, we may have to find somewhere else to go."

WVU is not yet into full game week mode, as the Sugar Bowl game is still six days away. The Mountaineers also will hit a bit less than they have been accustomed to. WVU will practice in full pads for the next two or three days, but won't tackle live. They will, as is their custom, pit the first team offense against the first team defense for three or four periods each day.

WVU also got in two days of "noise work" in the indoor facility at WVU, but will be hard pressed to get any more of that done since all but one practice will be outdoors in Atlanta. The Mountaineers will get ninety minutes in the Georgia Dome on Saturday, but Rodriguez, ever wary of spies, is treating that session has a glorified walkthrough. WVU is allowing media access for just three one-half hour sessions.


Slot receivers Jason Colson and Jeremy Bruce are still limited as Atlanta workouts begin. Both were in green shirts for the first practice, and will be monitored as the week progresses. They will not play unless they are 100%.

Travis Garrett was also limited, but is expected to play.

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This is the biggest game any of our players have every played in should be easy for them to keep their focus.

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The team's bowl gifts include a digital camcorder, sweatshirt and shorts. Last year they got DVD players, so the camera completes a nice set for them. They will also get mountain bikes, among other items, from the Sugar Bowl.

"Warren Young and Johnny Dingle on mountain bikes in January in Morgantown should be fun," Rodriguez cracked.

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Rodriguez still anticipates that Georgia will go deep on the Mountaineers.

"We anticipate them throwing the deep ball," he reiterated. "Shockley will get back there and scramble, but he doesn't take off. He looks to throw it. I think they will come right at us in the run game, then throw the ball downfield."

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