WVU Takes Game To Next Level

When the Mountaineers take on the University of Colorado next week, they will be dealing with more than just a talented football team. Folsom Filed in Boulder, Col. is 5,430 feet above sea level, making it 3,330 feet higher than Mountaineer field.

Despite the rather drastic change in altitude, Coach Stewart and his team seem unfazed.

"A football play lasts an average of four seconds, with the longest one being six seconds. All I'm going to do is ask our guys to strain for six seconds. With the clock and the human element, you are going to have a close-35 to 40 seconds to rest. I don't think it's (the elevation) a big problem and, in fact, find it almost comical. I lived out there for four years at the Air Force Academy and we were at 6,800 feet. When we went up and did our retreat, we went up to close to 10,000 feet and now that's a problem. All you have to do is bust it for six seconds and then you'll have 35 seconds to rest," Stewart said.

Stewart has assured his players that the elevation will not be an issue, and they seem to be buying into his message.

"Coach Stew told us not to worry about it. He coached there for many years and he said to not make it a factor. We have business to do so we can't worry about it being a mile high," said sophomore defensive back Brandon Hogan.

Senior wideout Dorrell Jalloh, one of the most positive thinkers on the team, agrees.

"(The elevation) is not going to affect us at all. It's not going to be a big difference in the game. I think the most important thing is conditioning and working really hard. We've been doing that a lot in practice. That's the only condition that is going to be a factor," he observed.

The Mountaineers understand the importance of conditioning for the game since there is not way to simulate the high elevation and oxygen change as a team. WVU does have a newly installed machine that allows varying levels of oxygen to be produced, but it apparently hasn't been used by many of the players. Some, such as wide receiver Tito Gonzales, think that it might be a factor, but that it's just one of many game day hurdles that must be cleared.

"I think we have done a good job preparing for it but you can't really prepare for that elevation. The coaches can't simulate an extra 3,000 – 4,000 feet above sea level," Gonzales noted. "It has to be your mind set that no matter how hard it may be to breathe, that we have a goal in mind and that's to go out to Colorado and win. We have to keep that in mind even when we may not be able to breathe."

Stewart's assistant coaches agree with the head coach about the elevation not factoring into the team's performance. Of course, that's to be expected, considering that the message from the coaching staff has to be a consistent one.

Jeff Mullen: "It's not a factor. It's only a mile high. I don't think it will affect us at all,"

Lonnie Galloway: "It's not a big deal. It's a state of mind."

Perhaps the best, and most succinct, summation came from the player that usually shares the fewest number of words in response to questions.

"It's mind over matter," laconic quarterback Patrick White said.

While West Virginia seems set in its approach to the game, the elevation factor still bears watching. WVU will depart for Colorado on Tuesday, rather than Wednesday, but that is in deference to the additional travel time required for the trip, according to team sources. WVU will practice on Tuesday before departing for Boulder, where they are expected to arrive around 7:00 p.m. local time.

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