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Monday, January 02, 2006

Late Inspiration

Late Inspiration By John Antonik for


    ATLANTA – Game plans are done well in advance, but that doesn’t mean West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez won’t sometimes find some late inspiration on the bus ride to the stadium.

    West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez examines the lights at the Georgia Dome during Saturday morning's workout.
    All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks

    “You might find one wrinkle that you can add to a route or a play and it may help you. I’ve done that up until on the way to the game on the bus,” Rodriguez said Saturday afternoon. “You’ve just got to make sure you don’t confuse guys. Anything we add will be a minute thing where a guy can handle it mentally.”

    Rodriguez says there is really little changes that take place after the season in advance of the bowl game.

    “What we did more than anything was we looked at some of the things we did well and thought we could execute in this game that maybe we have not run much but we can try and run in the bowl game,” he said. “We’ve got a few wrinkles and I’m sure Georgia has got a few wrinkles and you’ll probably see them early in the game.”

    The coach has been happy all week with his team’s attention to detail and focus since it arrived in Atlanta on Monday.

    “We’ve prepared well and there haven’t been any issues,” Rodriguez said. “I just hope we play well. Our young guys have played beyond their years and they’re going to have to do the same thing Monday night.”

    Rodriguez says sometimes a coach can tell during pre-game warm-ups if a team is ready to play but you don’t always know for sure until the game starts.

    “I’m not worried about it at all,” he said. “I told the team this is going to be a fun game to go out and enjoy. Everyone will want to play in this one with the electricity and the atmosphere.”

    If Rodriguez and his coaching staff do have special plays or formations for the game, they won’t hold them back and wait for the right time to use them.

    “I’ll try and get a first down as soon as I can get it and then take it from there,” he said. “We’ll be trying from the get go to do what we can.”

    Rodriguez says his staff will watch video tape just about right up until game time.

    “We’ll watch today’s practice film and the coaches will get together with the players and watch special teams. We’ll do it up until game time but we’ve got a couple of functions tonight as a staff. Tomorrow we’re taking the travel squad to a different hotel to kind of do our normal pre-game routine,” he said.


  • Most of the heavy work for the Nokia Sugar Bowl is now completed. The Mountaineers spent some time in the Georgia Dome this morning before practicing at Georgia Tech.

    “We didn’t have enough time to get in a full practice there and it’s not a secure facility as far as who’s watching,” Rodriguez said. “We got some work done and then went up to Georgia Tech and got in a normal Thursday practice.

    “I think our guys are excited because practice is finally over,” he said. “They’ve got the rest of the afternoon just to rest and relax. We’re not going anywhere; they’ll stay in the hotel and have dinner and we have an earlier curfew tonight two nights before the game.”

  • Rodriguez and a good number of West Virginia players got a first-hand look at the speed of the Southeastern Conference watching LSU’s 40-3 win over Miami Friday night in the Peach Bowl.

    “I saw the smile on Coach (Mark) Richt’s face when I passed him,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously there are a lot of great athletes in this league. It shows if one team gets on a roll and gets momentum, especially in a bowl game, it’s hard to stem that tide. I was thinking on the way over here that we couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start than last year’s bowl game. They flew the planes over the stadium in Jacksonville and before they landed we were down 10-0 to Florida State and we battled back.

    “We’ve got to get off to a good start and get our guys some confidence.”

  • Rodriguez hopes Georgia is not faster than LSU, which looked extremely fast against Miami Friday night. “I hope not,” he said. “You won’t find out until you see them in person but that was a pretty fast team last night.”
  • Defensive end Johnny Dingle didn’t do much today due to a stomach virus but Ernest Hunter was able to practice. “(Dingle) is the worst of the bunch. He should be okay but he missed a lot of reps and we’ll see how he comes out of it this weekend,” Rodriguez said.
  • Rodriguez says he won’t do anything special with his young players leading up to the game or on the sidelines during the game.

    “I’ll talk a little bit. I’ve got my back turned to everybody. I don’t do too many Oprahs and Dr. Phils and that kind of stuff,” he said. “I yell when I’m mad and get excited sometimes and I smile when they do something good. But other than that there’s not a lot of psychological stuff.”

  • According to Rodriguez, sometimes well designed plays and schemes can be blown up by special defensive players up front.

    “It comes down to personnel,” Rodriguez said. “You think he can zone block that guy. Well, in reality maybe he can’t and he gets whipped by that guy. Or this play may look good against that scheme and the guy that you’re blocking won’t allow that to happen. These plays may look like they will work because you’ve got the angle or the numbers but then you may get whipped up front. If you get whipped up front it doesn’t matter what you draw up you’re going to have a hard time.”

  • Rodriguez expects Georgia to shadow quarterback Pat White with either a defensive lineman, linebacker or nickel back when he chooses to run.

    “Sometimes a team will spy a D-lineman instead of rushing four and sometimes they’ll do it with a linebacker,” Rodriguez said. “They could bring in a nickel back or a faster guy. (Georgia hasn’t) done that a lot this year but they also haven’t faced a quarterback that can run it as much as Pat.”

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