Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

October 10, 2012

Back-to-back Texas trips a challenge for Mounties

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia knew that long road trips would be a part of life in the Big 12.

Maybe not this close together.

The conference schedule makers handed the Mountaineers a pair of excursions to Texas a week apart.

The Mountaineers returned to Morgantown in the early hours Sunday after beating No. 15 Texas at night 1,400 miles away in Austin. Now No. 5 West Virginia (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) is packing for its game Saturday at Texas Tech (4-1, 1-1) — a 1,500-mile excursion to Lubbock.

Mountaineer fans might view twin Texas trips covering 2,900 miles as challenging for their pocketbook and on the family and work schedules.

The players say they’re really no different than other road trips.

“I don’t really think it messes with our routine,” linebacker Isaiah Bruce said. “As for me and most of the players on the team, we got on the plane (to Austin) and we were just knocked out.”

West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey agreed: “Us having to travel that far doesn’t really play too much of a role.”

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen also insists it’s no big deal, either.

During its two decades in the Big East, West Virginia’s longest plane ride typically was to Miami or South Florida. Last year’s trip by bus to Cincinnati was far longer — five hours.

West Virginia had no travel glitches during the first Texas trip. Holgorsen is more concerned about the physical and mental wear-and-tear of an entire Big 12 season on his players than being loaded down with frequent flier miles.

West Virginia has beaten ranked opponents in successive weeks. A 70-63 home win over Baylor in the Big 12 opener was followed by the 48-45 win over the Longhorns before 102,000 fans.

West Virginia understands what it’s up against in Texas Tech, which has the nation’s No. 2 defense.

Holgorsen spent eight seasons as an assistant at Texas Tech and knows Jones AT&T Stadium may not have the ear-splitting noise levels of Texas, but “they’ve got 60-some thousand people that care about their football,” he said.

“I would assume that will be pretty rowdy as well. That’s the beauty about being in the Big 12 — every game is like that,” the coach said.

“That’s why we wanted to be in the Big 12. If they thought that was fun, then get ready. We’ve got another one this week. I can’t wait.”

What can wait is an Oct. 20 showdown at home with No. 6 Kansas State.

Holgorsen said there are no breathers in the Big 12 and he put to rest any notion that Texas Tech doesn’t have his players’ full attention.

“You play the same every week,” he said. “If you don’t have the ability to understand that every week is the same, you get beat. Whether it’s a ‘trap’ game or ‘big’ game, it’s a game.”

What will help this time is any repeat of the motivation Holgorsen saw from his players against Texas.

“This week we need to play with a sense of urgency and we need to create our own energy on the sideline because it’s a road game,” he said. “Not because of who we play. But because it is a road game.”

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