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Monday, January 02, 2006

Bowl Notebook

Bowl Notebook
By John Antonik for


    ATLANTA – West Virginia offensive coordinator Calvin Magee says freshmen Pat White and Steve Slaton are competitive at just about everything – including stretching before practice.

    West Virginia offensive coordinator Calvin Magee talks to reporters Friday morning at the Atlanta Westin.
    All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks

    “When they finish stretching, they even hop up and race in. We always pay attention to that,” Magee said Friday morning. “They love to play the game and come to practice every day to get better. They really are big-play guys and will have to make some plays for us Monday night.”

    Magee’s first inkling that White had play-making abilities came last year watching White run the scout team offense as a true freshman.

    “We would scrimmage the freshmen quite a bit and he would always take the team down and score,” Magee said. “Everybody said 'he can't throw and his mechanics were off’ but every time he got under center he took the team down to score and there is something to be said about that.”

    Magee’s biggest question was whether or not White could make those same plays in a game against an opposing defense.

    “Every time he played this year, he just got better and better. We kind of knew we had something, but we had another guy (Adam Bednarik) who was good enough. There was no rush on Pat.”

    Magee, in charge of WVU’s running backs, saw something special in Slaton before he even began practicing.

    “With Steve, we kind of knew when we signed him that this kid could be something really special,” Magee said. “As most freshmen coming in, they have a lot to learn and we're not calling their number. Every week, I just kept telling him to be patient and he kept saying 'Yeah, right.' But after about three weeks, I told him to just be patient and keep learning the offense. Then against Virginia Tech we decided it was his time, and he's just done the rest.”

    Both White and Slaton have done most of their damage with their legs this year, combining to run for more than 1,700 yards. But Georgia’s defense is geared toward stopping the run. What happens if Georgia forces the Mountaineers to pass? Can West Virginia throw the ball 30 times if it has to?

    "That's always a mindset for us coming into every game … everyone knows they have to stop the run,” Magee said. “We're going to do what we've been doing and cover the width of the field, not just the box. If they force us to throw it, then I'll guess you'll see us throw it.

    “They're awfully good at stopping the run so that's going to be a chess match. We've got some adjustments that we'll make if we have to."


  • The team had its fourth practice in Atlanta on Friday. There were no scheduled team events for Friday, but most of the team is going to attend the Peach Bowl as Miami’s guests. The Hurricanes generously provided West Virginia with 250 free tickets.
  • White says Georgia’s defense will be a handful. “To be successful you have to execute and beat them to the punch,” he said. “They are fast, athletic and physical. The defensive line and secondary really stand out to me.”
  • Steve Slaton on playing in the Nokia Sugar Bowl: “We are just going to act like this is another game,” he said. “We are going to take it day-by-day and feed off the excitement of being here and each other. I don't know if there is a jinx with us and bowl games. This is my first bowl game. I think the last time we were here was the 1994 Sugar Bowl. Our seniors are treating this like their last hurrah.”
  • Fullback Owen Schmitt knows West Virginia has struggled recently in bowl games.

    “We have had bowl trouble in the past,” he said. “You can see that looking back at our history. We lost the last time we were in the Sugar Bowl. A win here would mean a lot to the school and also to the state of West Virginia. It would help put us higher in the rankings and that would help us with out recruiting.”

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