Mind Games

Both coaches in Wednesday night's West Virginia-Virginia Tech border battle have the mental aspect of the game at the forefront of their preparations.

"We're excited about the challenge of playing a night game on television down there," head coach Rich Rodriguez said on Monday. "We need to make sure we don't get ahead of ourselves. We need to play one play at a time."

That statement may sound like the hoariest of cliches', but it's one that the Mountaineer football team has taken to heart. Since WVU's ugly loss to Maryland the first week of October, West Virginia has taken that approach and been "excellent" in their attitude and mental outlook, according to Rodriguez.

"I thought we might have had a little bit of a fragile psyche early in the season. It wasn't any problem with our effort, but sometimes we might have been too hyped up. Then, when things went bad, we got down.

"Since the Maryland game, the team has just taken the attitude of playing one play at a time and not worrying about the last one. That started the first practice after the Maryland game, and I think it's shown in our performance."

Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer is likewise conscious of his team's mental state after two straight losses, but believes his team did as much mental healing as physical healing during the extra off days.

"Being ranked up high and then falling can have an effect," Beamer said. "I think the extra time off gave us the chance to improve our mental approach. The mental rest we got might be just as important as the physical."


Virginia Tech's injury situation improved over the off time, although Beamer remained noncommittal on the playing status of several injured Hokies. Rodriguez believes that his team is catching the Hokies at a bad time, as Tech is "getting healthier".

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Neither coach is overjoyed with the Wednesday night game, but understand that the exposure and financial implications of the game outweigh any objections they may have.

"I think most coaches would prefer to play Saturday afternoon," Rodriguez noted. "I'll tell you how I feel after Wednesday night games after this one is over. But as long as both teams have the same amount of time to prepare, I don't think it's a big problem."

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