Ready for Anything

West Virginia finishes its "Ripley's" work this week, a time when the team focuses on all believe-it-or-not aspects of the game, especially the rare and bizarre.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez has a unique list, originally from New England head coach Bill Belichick, with various unusual game situations on it, like what to do if a punter isn't out there on special teams or a center goes down in the middle of a key drive. WVU's sixth-year mentor has added to the list, even using one of his own problems as an example.

"I remember in 1982 or ‘83 we were playing Miami in the Orange Bowl and I was on the kickoff team," Rodriguez said. "I has a stomach problem and had to go. I went out there, and I was hoping nobody would hit me as I ran down the field. Luckily, the didn't, and I kept right on running into the tunnel and into the locker room."

A similar example came from last season, when, just before the half against Cincinnati, West Virginia was forced to punt. Phil Brady, however, was in the bathroom with a stomach ailment, and Rodriguez sent the strength and conditioning staff sprinting after him. Brady returned to the field just in time to kick.

"I didn't want to call a timeout, because how do you know how long he's gonna be, to do his business?" Rodriguez joked. "Do I use one timeout? Two? I wasn't very happy when I found out he was not there, but he made it. Some of these won't even come up all season. But parts of tomorrow's practice and most of Thursday's will be covering these."

WVU will address situations like what to do if a center or quarterback is injured – don't rush, but give the backups time to get some reps in. Never run off the field, because that leaves the Mountaineers scrambling to put a player in cold off the bench. The trainers are instructed not to hurry. So, in short, it will be among the strangest practices of the year

"It's anything and everything you can think of that could possibly happen in a game," Rodriguez said. "We are going to try to cover it and hope our guys remember. Everybody knows about the two-minute drill and that stuff, but there are a lot of things. We do train even the trainers. Dave Kerns (WVU's head trainer) knows all that. He is a vet. I like covering it this week, and I'd give more examples, but why help anybody else out?"

Other areas that will be covered are how to react if the Mountaineers leave a guy wide open on a punt, so that it can easily be thrown to him on a fake (jump offsides quickly, perhaps?), and how to handle the situation if a key player (punter or kicker) is not on the field on special teams, among others. The Patriots' list is a full page long and it notes that the situations should be practiced prior to the first preseason game.

"A preseason game? Isn't that nice," said Rodriguez, who would like collegiate teams to have at least a preseason scrimmage with another team. "I try to do the stuff first that makes (the coaches) look really bad and get that taken care of."

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