While many college students do pick up a summer job and maintain something of a busy schedule, there usually isn't much academic or study going on. That's not the case for members of the WVU football team, who often use their free time to watch game film.
The majority of players on the team, like man student athletes, use the summer session to pick up some classes. Some are making up for shortcomings of the previous semesters, while others are getting a jump on the year to come, when the demands of their sports often cause missed class time. But that's not all those athletes are studying, as summer is an ideal time to devote to film study.
"Now, we have more time than we do during the school year to watch film," admitted junior linebacker J.T. Thomas. "Film is not quite as good as game experience, but it helps a lot. You also can see a lot of mistakes being made and get to correct those now so you won't have to worry about them in camp."
Make no mistake, however –this isn't a popcorn and coke session like going to the movies. There are a number of different areas a player can concentrate on. Not only are they trying to find their own mistakes, but they also study the plays and tendencies of their opponents, as well as other players at their position.
"Me, Reed [Williams] and Ovid [Goulbourne] were watching film and just looking at a couple of things that we did last year that we can do a lot better this year," said Thomas, who played a leading role on WVU's 2008 defense.
Junior defensive lineman Scooter Berry recognizes the amount of time that must be dedicated to watching film.
"The 10,000 hour room. Coach Kirelawich told us that," said Berry. "It takes 10,000 hours to be at your best. It doesn't matter what you're doing. If you take 10,000 hours, you're going to be the best eater. You want to put in extra work and I think film is definitely the thing that you want to do when you're working out and conditioning."
Pure study isn't the only benefit that time in front of WVU's extensive video system provides. Some players use it to help them get excited before one of the strenuous summer conditioning sessions.
"[Film] is how we get pumped before a workout," said fullback Ryan Clarke. "Every day we watch videos of ourselves. It gives us the drive to get ready to play this season."
Most of the summer film work focuses on correcting mistakes and breakdowns in both individual and team play. Although film from games against Big East conference foes also results in the aforementioned benefits of seeing opponents, a detailed scouting and film package of WVU's 2009 opponents isn't on the menu yet. That includes Liberty, a team the Mountaineers haven't played in the past.
"We're just working on self improvement stuff," Clarke noted.