Game Week Arrives For WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Game Week Arrives For WVU

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MORGANTOWN -

The West Virginia University football team had a week or two to enjoy the feeling of winning the 2012 Orange Bowl before it was time to start preparing for the new season.

For the past eight months, these players have been hitting the weight room hard. They endured spring practices, strength and conditioning workouts and training camp. Finally, game week has arrived.

WVU is set to open the season Saturday at home against Marshall. Everyone within the football program is eager for that day to arrive.

"It obviously gets to a point after 24 practices where they are tired of playing each other," WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We are ready to root for each other instead of competing with each other."

Holgorsen is a big believer in routines. He tries to commit his team to a schedule they will follow each and every week throughout the season. That preparation began last week.

"We had a good week teaching them how to handle a game week so they are going to understand what the routine is going to be Sunday through Saturday," Holgorsen said. "They understand what the game week schedule is going to be and what the practices are going to be and they are ready to get out there and hit somebody else instead of their teammates."

The past week was also good for the team to welcome back starting quarterback Geno Smith. Smith missed the end of training camp to return home and mourn  the death of his grandmother.

"It is sad and Geno spent some time with his family and came back motivated," Holgorsen said of Smith. "He missed his teammates and missed being able to practice and you could tell that when he got back he was tuned in and he obviously makes everyone around him better."

Smith's absence in practice meant backup quarterback Paul Millard was taking first team reps while Ford Childress handled the second team reps.

"It was good for Paul and Ford to take a whole bunch of reps for the three or four days that he was gone," Holgorsen stated. "There was some anxiety on my part not having that leader out there making everyone else better, but was glad to get Geno back and have a good week of practice."

Smith and Millard are two very different quarterbacks. Smith has the ability to use his legs to make a positive play and avoid the rush. Millard is more of a pocket-passer.

There is no comparing the experience level between the two players. Smith has started three seasons for the Mountaineers. Millard has only played in a handful of games.

"Where Geno makes everyone else around him better, when you insert a backup quarterback and it is not just Paul, if it was Ford, it happens all across the country," Holgorsen said. "When the second team quarterback gets in there it is up to the rest of the people on offense to make him feel comfortable in there."

Numerous starters on offense like receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey were telling Millard they believed in him and had confidence in him. That trust from teammates goes a long way towards having confidence.

"If he is not confident and not comfortable with the rest of the people around him, he is probably not going to be successful," Holgorsen stated. "I put a lot of stock in the fact that there were seven, eight or nine seniors in that huddle that gave him confidence. I felt like if we had to we would get Paul in the game and he would move the ball."

Fortunately for Holgorsen, the anxiety he felt at times in practice while Geno Smith was gone should not be around this week in practice. Smith is healthy and ready to begin his senior campaign.

Holgorsen told the team they would not begin preparing for Marshall until this week, but he did manage to get his players some preparation work without them knowing.

"We have been showing the kids a lot of looks that they are going to get from Marshall, but they just don't know it yet," Holgorsen chuckled. "We're getting a lot of work in on it and we are fully prepared to go into a game week."

So here it is, game week. WVU enters its first season as a member of the Big 12 by closing out the Friends of Coal Bowl series. West Virginia has won all six of the meetings in this series. Kickoff between West Virginia and Marshall is set for noon on Saturday.

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