Ah, the smell of spring. I can never get enough! The season that signifies the passing of winter, with the evidence and feelings of rebirth; rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth. The spring equinox, where the plane of the earth’s equator passes through the center of the sun with neither a tilt this way or that. The days get longer; the sun brighter. There is nothing that seems unmanageable with the right attitude and desire. I am filled with hope for my family, friends, mankind, and of course our West Virginia Mountaineers.
The 2014 football campaign began back in January with a fury. The eight-week winter conditioning program is tough physically as well as mentally. This is the time when boys grow into young men and leaders separate themselves from the pack. Watching the team workout out at 6 a.m. in the indoor facility, reminded me of some of my more challenging times at WVU. Imagine waking up at 5 a.m. twice a week to get physically pushed to your limit, and then some. They don’t spread out the big garbage cans all over the area to place garbage in, but to hold last night’s dinner, if needed.
I like the number of players overall we have in the program at this stage of the year. Depth has been a problem for the past two seasons and I am encouraged to see that aspect being remedied. As a former captain and alumni guy, I appreciate the Educational Program Pride the coaching staff has implemented. Educating and reinforcing our players about our state, University and Mountaineer history helps create an everlasting bond that provokes a bigger dog in the fight for the Gold and Blue. Considering all the changes and turnover since 2007, consistency is important and this is sincerely warranted!
Once again, like last year, this senior class is relatively small. If you look at the breakdown of offensive and defensive seniors listed in the three-deep depth chart you will see 14 out of the 66 positions are seniors. The difference from last year to this year is that instead of the majority of players being sophomores and freshmen, they are now juniors and sophomores. That is, juniors and sophomores with a lot of playing time and experience under their belt! There is also a talented redshirt class underneath - good news boys, you are now eligible and competing for playing time!
These are all positive signs for the upcoming year, but there are questions associated with this team that only full-speed, live-ball hitting will address. We all know how challenging the 2014 schedule will be. WVU has thus far held three practices without pads to comply with NCAA rules. Tuesday is a glorious day as it is the first day of spring hitting - a day when the rubber meets the road. Time is of the essence!
I believe the team needs to go about their business this spring with maturity, confidence and a sense of urgency. Every position needs to be filled with competition from day one! Players need to hold themselves accountable and strive to improve through each and every repetition and practice. Maintaining this attitude, effort, and discipline, combined with the talent this team has will be infectious influence. Staying true to this formula will form the foundation for the offense, defensive and special team units in which will ultimately unite them as a team!
I always loved spring football, because like the spring season everything starts a new. All are back to zero, all must prove their worth all over again. Nothing is a given. Perform or get off the field. Like my favorite quote in the football weight room says, “Iron Sharpens Iron As One Man Sharpens Another!” Let the grind to begin!