Same Game

He's known as one of the most intense Mountaineer football players – both on the field and in the workout room, and with that drive and dedication comes a laser-like focus on the game. So, it's a bit surprising to hear that junior linebacker Marc Magro won't be more fired up for the Gator Bowl than he is for any other game this season.

That certainly doesn't mean that Magro won't be ready for the game. The big middle linebacker, who carved a reputation for himself as a weight room warrior before he set foot on the field, has never shorted himself when it comes to preparation or game day intensity. From workouts to film study, the hometown hero does everything he can to give himself an advantage once the ball is kicked. And since he goes through the same routine no matter when or where the game is played, the fact that the contest is a bowl game isn't a factor.

"For me, it's just another game," Magro explained. "Hopefully I prepare the same way for every game from the first game to the last game. It is nice that it's a bowl game, and the week leading up to it will be a good experience, but when it comes down to it on the field, it's a football game. You try to prepare for it the same way and be top notch in everything you do."

So, rather than overhype one game, Magro treats them all the same. That might be a problem for those who can't lift themselves to the same motivational heights or level of preparedness 12 or 13 times a season, but for the University High School graduate, it's not an issue. Magro puts in so much work to prepare for games that it's hard to imagine him not being ready, or not playing to his fullest potential.

In addition to being a treat for Mountaineer fans, that attitude certainly scores points with the coaching staff as well. Today's thinking holds that it's impossible for players to be "up" for every game in a season, but that's not a view held by the West Virginia coaching staff. And when they see that mindset mirrored to them by one of the hardest-working players on the team, it serves as both a validation of those views and as an example to other players on the team.

Magro likely doesn't think about any of those issues, however. He's all about the next game, improving, and helping his team win. Reminded that West Virginia has a chance to win back-to-back New Year's Day bowl games for the first time in its history, Magro again noted that such considerations are secondary to the game itself.

"It doesn't really come into play in my mind," he observed. "I have heard some people mention that, and it would be great for the university and the program if we could pull it off, but I don't think about that on the field.

"After the game, maybe that's when it hits you if you win it," he acknowledged. "You just get so happy for the players and the coaches. This team, it's not just about football. Playing and winning a game like this touches people in many different aspects of their life, and it's such a great feeling to do that for everybody."

As usual, Magro has been preparing to the utmost of his ability for the matchup with Georgia Tech. After concentrating on finals, he was one of the first players in to watch film, and continued that during WVU's pre-Christmas practices in Morgantown. He will continue that routine in Jacksonville, where the Mountaineers began practice today. And not matter what the outcome of the game, rest assured that there will be one player that will be ready to go when the whistle blows.


Although Magro certainly won't be in primary coverage against star Yellow Jacket wideout Calvin Johnson, he and his mates at linebacker will have a few chances to have an impact on him.

"There will be some schemes where we fit in there [against Johnson]," Magro admitted, while not giving away any wrinkles in the WVU defensive plan. "We're probably not going to change much, but we'll be in there in certain situations. Johnson is definitely a phenomenal player. You see some of the things he does on film that are amazing."

Magro, who had five pass breakups this year, could certainly help by getting into passing lanes and defending against the crossing routes that have plagued the Mountaineer defense this year – patterns that the Yellow Jackets are sure to employ in their game plan.

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Magro's first goal, of course, it to stop the run and make foes one-dimensional. His 38 tackles, including two in the backfield, helped the WVU defense to a top ten national ranking against the run. The Mountaineers are ninth overall, allowing just 87.7 rushing yards per contest.

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With the Yellow Jackets being held to totals of seven, 12 and six points in three of their last four games, might a low-scoring affair be in the offing? Magro, true to his outlook, hasn't examined that possibility.

"I haven't thought about a low-scoring game, but we always want to keep it that way on our end," he said. "We just have to go out there and play the game."

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