By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
December 19, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Despite a heavy snowstorm and final examinations, the West Virginia University football team was back at work Saturday morning in preparation for the 2010 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl against Florida State in Jacksonville Fla., Jan. 1, 2010.
The Mountaineer players went through a two-hour workout inside the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility in shorts and shoulder pads. Afterward, former WVU great Jeff Hostetler was invited to say a few words to the team.
West Virginia will have practices Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before being excused for Christmas break. The team will resume practice down in Jacksonville on Dec. 27.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen said the entire game plan will be installed before the team leaves campus on Wednesday.
“There are so many distractions down at the bowl that you need it all to be reviewed,” Mullen said. “You need to make sure you get them loose, get them stretched, get them worked and get all of the physical stuff out of the way. The mental stuff you want to have in.”
Several key players were not available today because of finals. A handful of them arrived near the end of practice in street clothes.
“Those guys are old guys – even the freshmen understand the importance of this football game so they came to work today,” Mullen said.
Despite giving up a lot of points this year, what Mullen has seen of Florida State’s defense is very similar to what he was used to going up against when he coached in the ACC at Wake Forest.
“They play hard,” Mullen said of retiring Coach Mickey Andrews’ unit. “Coach Andrews has always been a guy that has his guys playing really, really hard and that’s certainly evident on film. With their personnel, they’re doing some things different than maybe in year’s past, but it’s still the old 4-3 attack defense that Coach Andrews has been known for.”
And that means a variety of blitzes.
“It’s not like half pressure,” Mullen said. “He’s all in with it and we certainly need to be prepared for that.”
Mullen sees talent all across the board from Florida State.
“(Outside linebacker) Dakota Watson certainly stands out but they’re all good,” Mullen said. “You are not looking at any bad players when you’re playing Florida State. They’re all very highly recruited kids and very talented kids and certainly well coached. Whether it’s the back end or the front end, we’re going to have our hands full.”
Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel agrees.
“Florida State is still Florida State,” Casteel said. “They’ve got guys that can run and they’re very athletic all over the field. With (quarterback) E.J. Manuel you’re getting a big, long, athletic guy that they ran a little bit more option with him the last few games. We won’t know exactly what we’re going to get because they’re a little different with (Christian) Ponder than they were with E.J.”
Casteel says FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher does a great job of identifying and attacking weaknesses in defenses.
“They have good balance in what they do No. 1, and he’ll find a weakness and attack it,” Casteel said. “You can see him doing that in every game. They’ll have a good plan for us, I’m sure.”
West Virginia will practice in shells on Sunday before ramping things up against on Monday.
“We have some GAs that will help us and I think Pat Kirkland is going to come over and help us as far as off the field,” said running backs coach Chris Beatty. “You just make up for it. Coach (Dave) Johnson will do some things with them, I will do some things with them when they are in the backfield, and you do what you’ve got to do.”
Beatty says juggling assignments happens pretty frequently during this time of the year.
“We go through stuff like this when people are on the road. It’s really just part of it,” Beatty said.
Beatty’s name has also surfaced with other job openings. He said he simply takes all of that in stride.
“You go into different schools, people say things and they call,” he said. “It’s amazing how many people know about me other than me.
“I know what jacket I’m wearing,” Beatty added. “It’s really kind of funny to me. People try and put two and two together and it doesn’t always equal four. I’m here until somebody tells me different.”
The fact that Beatty’s name has become so popular right now is actually flattering to him and to West Virginia University.
“I hope that means I’m doing a good job. It’s like I tell the players, ‘The day I stop yelling at you is the day you need to start being worried.’ When people mention your name, you take it as, ‘hey I must be doing something right.’”
“I just got in from Houston,” Beatty said. “I’ve got no bounce. But you could tell (the players) were happy to be back on the field.”
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