MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Select members of the West Virginia University football team met with the media on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014, at the Milan Puskar Center Team Room.
Offensive Coordinator (Quarterbacks) Shannon Dawson
On what practice has been like this week
Well I mean the attention, the focus is a little better obviously its game week, its different. I think everybody across the nation would say the same thing that at this point in camp or whatever before you start the first game, kids are just tired of practicing. I mean everybody’s hoping to have a good team I mean everybody’s saying the same thing across the nation and so we’re just ready to play a game
On overall thoughts on Alabama defensively
They’re good. I mean they’re the top defense every year, top five or top so I mean we know what we’re facing, we’re facing a great challenge, good opportunity great challenge and so we’ll see I mean you know we’ll see how it goes Saturday.
On the players mindset going up against Alabama
If you got to get them ready for this one, than you got bigger issues than just getting your team ready to play. I mean you know you get, you’re playing one of the top ranked teams in the nation if not the top so that’s enough said. All summer we knew who we were playing first game so there’s a different focus level with our guys no doubt.
Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers) Tony Gibson
On how he’s feeling entering into game week vs Alabama
You know, feel good at this point I mean you know the kids are tiring of going out and practicing and ready to play a game. You know as coaches we’re ready to see what we got so you know we’re excited, kids are working, I think we’re ready to go.
On Alabama’s quarterback mystery
Yeah well the number one thing is what we have to do is make sure that we’re ready as a defense to run our package. You know that’s the key to all of it right now, You know we have to prepare for a lot of different things and you know (Redshirt Senior Quarterback) Blake Sims is a little more athletic than (Junior Quarterback) Jake Coker obviously you know so we’ve been studying some film on him and you know got to see him in the spring and got to see the end of last year when they put him in at the end of games some of the stuff that he could do so you know our kids will be ready you know its just kind of the unknown right now what to expect.
On the things he’s telling the defense to look for depending on which quarterback starts
Well I’m sure with (Redshirt Senior Quarterback) Blake Sims they got some quarterback run game stuff that you know we’ll have to defend. (Junior Quarterback) Jake Coker’s more of a pocket passer so you know I mean it’s not real hard either to play quarterback there to turn it around and hand it to those three studs they have in the backfield so you they can get out of some binds just doing that.
On what the week has been like overall going into game week
You know we’re excited that it’s here, we got a great team attitude and it’s really exciting, anxious, ready to go, really positive, very positive team feel, we’re just ready to go.
On the team having extra energy going against Alabama
You know it’s the first game, you’ve been hitting each other all camp, you want to hit someone else. Add to the fact that its, you know, a team that’s almost been a dynasty, a team that’s you know, a very well built program you know and we know how good they are and we’re going to show them how good we are.
On his progress from last season to this season
You know the evaluation was done mostly over camp, then we get into game week, and its more about getting ready for the game you know you don’t really get as many good on good looks as you did in camp, its more against scouts and everything like that. That’s hard to evaluate but I’m very comfortable with the game plan, our whole team is so far, we put a little bit of it in last week and then added more this week and we just got to get some minor details down we still got some work to do the rest of this week but so far it looks pretty good.
On mindset coming into his senior season
I’m just trying to play to the best of my ability, and give everything I have and leave it all on the field. I play for my teammates, and I know they are going to play for me. Hopefully, we will get the W.
On who is starting at running back
We are all going to rotate and get our plays. The one with the hot hand, they say, is the one that is going to get the ball the most. Every running back is going to go out there and give it their all when they have their shot, and that’s what I am going to do.
On the excitement of the Alabama game
I have been looking forward to it, and we have been working hard in the offseason having that in the back of our head that we play a good SEC team the first game of the season. It’s something to look forward too, and I hope we go out there and play hard, like I said, let’s get the win.
On the challenges of Alabama
They are a physical team. They are in the SEC. You have to be physical. They roll down strong, and play to the whistle. We have to finish runs and finish blocks. We can’t take plays off. It’s going to take all four quarters to win this game, and that’s what we are going to do.
On his improvements thus far
So far I’m just trying to be consistent, and a leader. On third downs, I want the coaches and Clint (Trickett) to feel comfortable throwing to me. I’m trying to make every play and every catch, block and try to do everything that I can.
On aggression this season
Yes, we are more aggressive. I learned how to control my body in the air. A lot of the guys are going to be smaller than me, so I want to be able to be more physical this year.
On the Alabama game – underdogs or business trip
A little bit of both. We are the underdogs, obviously. We want to prove everyone wrong, but it’s just another game. We played Oklahoma State and everybody said we were the underdogs, and we won the game.
On the best defender that he has to beat on Saturday
I don’t know about their best defender, but they are good all around. They are defensively sound, real physical and fast, but that’s every team in the Big 12, so we just have to take it to them.
On excitement for Alabama game
It’s very exciting. It came quick, but it’s a great opportunity to go out there and play a game against a top team. It’s going to be a great challenge.
On watching film for the Alabama game
They are very methodical in what they do. They don’t try to do anything special. They stick to what they do. They have a great team. It’s going to be a challenge, but we are ready.
On Alabama’s quarterbacks styles
(Blake) Sims is a very athletic quarterback. He can scramble and has a strong arm. I can’t think of the other quarterback’s name. (Jake) Coker. He has a good arm too. He is 6’5 – not so mobile. Whoever gets the starting job is going to be ready for us, and we have to prepare for them.
On the leadership role going into the Alabama game
I have to be poised and try to keep everybody calm. We play the game. They put on pants just like we put ours on. We have to play the game and not play the name. That’s what we have to do.
On mental focus
Everyone is tuned in and aware of who we are playing. At the end of the day it’s not about Alabama – it’s about West Virginia.
On what excites him the most about going up against Alabama
It’s an opportunity to play a great program, great team and play at the Georgia Dome. Going into this game is just like any other game. It’s the first game of the season and were just excited to start the season.
On the most challenging part of going against Alabama’s offense
They have weapons, they have running backs, and receivers. They can attack from multiple different places so we just have to be on our toes.
On if quarterback controversy is overstated since they can run the ball so well
It’s hard to tell, we haven’t really seen them at all this year so it’s hard to say anything about it really.
On Alabama’s style of offense being different than Big 12
It’s definitely different than Big 12 opponents. We’re preparing just like any other game. We know what we’re going to see so it’s like going into any other game.