WVU Carries Similar Mindset Entering Saturday’s Game - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Carries Similar Mindset Entering Saturday’s Game

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By Chris Jackson

West Virginia is reverting to the same message that helped it beat East Carolina in the home opener last week: “It’s on us.”

East Carolina is in a transition phase, coming off a 3-9 season and entering the 2017 campaign with a loss to James Madison of the Football Championship Subdivision in its season opener. But that didn’t change WVU’s mindset, understanding that it needed focus on its own game ahead of the 56-20 victory.

The same goes for the matchup versus Delaware State at noon Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium, who went 0-11 last year and hasn’t won a game since 2015.

“That is our goal every week,” said WVU senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton. “It doesn’t matter who we play, we have to show up, you have to dominate, you have to execute and you have to communicate every week, it doesn’t matter the opponent. Those are the things you take these weeks and get into those habits and keep those going throughout the year.”

Although Delaware State is a struggling program and apart of a rebuild under second-year head coach Kenny Carter - formerly on the coaching staffs at Florida, Louisville and Youngstown State, among others - the Mountaineers aren’t overlooking a team with a lesser resume.

The Hornets do feature 10 preseason All-MEAC Conference selections, including running back Mike Waters, who ranked third in the MEAC in rushing yards per game in 2016 and was also named a HERO Sports FCS Freshman All-American.

Waters is joined by junior Brycen Alleyne in the backfield, a duo that helped the offense make significant strides from game one into game two. After the Hornets totaled just 59 rushing yards in a week one loss to Delaware, that mark increased to 111 in the week two defeat against Hampton.

WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen is cementing the idea not to discard any opponent.   

“Coach Holgorsen says it every day: “Respect the team you play,” said WVU redshirt freshman linebacker Dylan Tonkery. “They want to beat us just as bad as we want to beat them so you can’t look down on them or anything like that. You just go out there and play your best.”

WVU wants to see continued improvements. Junior quarterback Will Grier and the starters shined in the first half last week, getting off to a 49-3 lead entering the half to put the game away.

Holgorsen said backup quarterback Chris Chugunov put up his best performance since stepping on campus in 2015, going 5-of-9 for 51 yards, with a few passes dropped by receivers. Besides him, Holgorsen and the assistants want to see more even when the outcome is secured.

The intensity drop raised some concerns, which is crucial for growth as the season progresses and when Big 12 play starts later this month.

“It’s up to us as coaches that we’ve got to better develop these guys and we’ve got to develop the second string well enough to where we have good enough depth, because it’s a long season,” said WVU offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.

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