Rivalry Week

With a quick turnaround before Thursday's home game against rival Maryland, head coach Rich Rodriguez had plenty to talk about with reporters on the weekly Big East coaches conference call.

"Our players understand what a big, big game this is," Rodriguez said at the beginning of his ten minute window. "It has a history of being an outstanding rivalry. It's always a great challenge, and the game has been very, very physical the past couple of years."

Rodriguez and Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen took over at their respective alma maters in 2001, and beginning with their first meeting, the rivalry has taken on a new life. Maryland won that first meeting in 2001, 32-20. After that, the Terrapins took Rodriguez and company out to the woodshed over the next three times the teams met with a trio of ugly beatings. That included a Gator Bowl matchup at the end of the 2003 season, a game which the Terps won 41-7.

"We felt really disappointed the first few times we played them. Even though they clearly outplayed us, we weren't giving them our best shot," Rodriguez said. "At least the last couple of years we've been able to do that. The history of the series has been very close, and it certainly will be Thursday night."

He's right about the series being close. With Mountaineer wins in 2004 and 2005, the series record now stands at 21-21-2. That's about as even as you can get.

The head coach isn't looking at the bigger picture this week, though, as he has enough on his plate getting ready for the current Terrapins.

"To be honest with you the total series number isn't that relevant because the only thing I worry about is this year."

Friedgen's teams have typically been most successful when they get great play from the quarterback position. Rodriguez believes that senior Sam Hollenbach is a big reason for Maryland's early success in 2006.

"I've really been impressed with him this year. He made some nice plays against us last year," Rodriguez said. Hollenbach was 20-31 for 291 yards and a pair of touchdowns in last year's 31-19 WVU victory. "They've always had great success when their quarterbacks played well, and he's won two games for them this year."

Other quotes from Rodriguez today:

  • (On Steve Slaton's recruitment. Slaton was originally offered by Maryland as a defensive back until the Terrapins pulled their offer):"To be honest with you the Maryland situation wasn't as big of a factor from our standpoint as far as how we were approaching him as a recruit. We liked him from the minute we saw him. He was committed to Maryland but he was a soft commit anyways. We had a great visit with him and his family, and fortunately for us he came here."

  • (On Owen Schmitt's development as an all-around player, not just a lead blocker): "He did that last year as the season went on until the end of the year, he developed into a more sound player. He's just a good football player. He's got all the skills you want as a running back."

  • (In response to the news that Syracuse and Boston College will resume their series in 2010, and whether or not WVU would ever schedule former conference members): "I think that's up to the individual institution, depending on how each school feels about it. I think a lot of us are scrambling to find games, not in the next year or two, but four or five years down the road. What's in the past is in the past."

  • (On the development of text messaging as a recruiting tool): "There's no question that text messaging is something all coaches have to learn and be able to communicate with our prospects. I'm not quite as proficient as some of the younger guys it takes me. It takes me about an hour to send two or three of them.

    Rodriguez was then asked how often he texted potential recruits. "I'm probably doing it 2-3 times a week, probably 12-15 kids each time. It does keep you busy," he said, noting that the assistant coaches do it more frequently. Coach Rod noted that he'd like to see legislation enacted to curb the amount of text messaging that is being done.

    Stay tuned to BlueGoldNews.com this week for more pre-game coverage for Thursday night!

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