Final Notes: West Virginia

Head coach Rich Rodriguez and captains Brandon Myles, Tim Lindsey, Jay Henry and Dan Mozes met the media for a final press conference the day before the game. Herwith, a compendium of final thoughts and notes before Monday's Gator Bowl.

Rodriguez said that Steve Slaton has made some progress, but that he probably won't play 70 or 80 snaps.

"If he progresses as much as he did today, we hope he can play some," the head man noted. "[Trainer] Dave Kerns said he made some progress over the past day, and we're still 24 hours away, so we'll see how it is tomorrow."

Defensive lineman Craig Wilson has also made progress with his ankle injury, and could see some limited action against the Yellow Jackets.

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It will be the last game for WVU's seniors, and they have different outlooks on how they are treating their "lasts" in the Mountaineer program.

"Yesterday at practice, I thought about it some, but I am trying to focuse more on the game," Lindsey said. After the game, maybe when I'm driving home with my parents, I'll have a chance to reflect on it more."

"Definitely yesterday I was thinking about it being the last time, and then our last walkthrough today," Myles chimed in. "I'm just thinking of how great it is to be out there."

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West Virginia's team has also noted the support it gets from its players and fans means a lot.

"On the way down here and everywhere we've gone, we've seen tons of West Virginia flags on cars," Lindsey said. "Seeing all that support really makes me feel good."

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Terms like "family" get thrown around all too freely among athletic teams, but you do get the feeling that one of the big reasons for WVU's success is due to the closeness of the seniors and the team overall.

"The first ten offensive linemen went out to the 17th hole at Sawgrass and had our pictures taken," All-America center Dan Mozes revealed. "That's the special thing we did while we were here."

"I think the guys in our class just got along really well," Lindsey added. "We were good friends all through our time here."

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Mozes also revealed that each of the offensive linemen got a few chances to hit a ball onto the 17th's famed island green -- with limited success.

"Tim Reed was the only one of us to get it over. He hit one in the bunker on the side of the green. Jake Figner missed the ball every time until his last one, and he hit that one in the water. So we didn't do very good -- none of us are golfers. When I went to play with Jay [Henry] back in Oklahoma, I lost every ball in his bag."

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Rodriguez might have been a bit anxious to keep his players from giving Georgia Tech any last minute ammunition. At one point, he intercepted a question directed at Mozes concerning Tech's rushing defense, which has held five teams under 60 yards on the ground, then proceeded to say, "You'd have to ask the players about that."

The stymied questioner, who happened to be our own Chris Richardson, caught up with Mozes after the press conference to get the answer he was looking for.

"They are a great defense -- a classic ACC kind of defense," Mozes said. "They are big, they are tough, and they are physical, and they make a lot of plays. They are the most athletic, I think, that we have seen. There have been a lot of teams we have faced that have been good against the run, and they are just another team that we have to try to break that tradition."

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West Virginia held a final, very light walkthrough at Alltel stadium following the press conference. They will have an early bed check tonight at the team hotel at Sawgrass following a movie and team meetings.


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