WVU seeks stability from backups, not overlooking Delaware State

Patrick Kotnik, Staff Writer
WV Sports
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For the second straight week, a winless team will visit Morgantown to take on the Mountaineers.

West Virginia will clash with Delaware State this Saturday in a game in which he Mountaineers are heavily favored. West Virginia is 17-0 all-time against FCS schools and the Hornets have lost 13 consecutive games including a 79-0 defeat in their last game against an FBS school against Missouri.

However, this week’s opponent doesn’t change West Virginia’s approach to Saturday according head coach Dana Holgorsen.

“We always talk about respecting our opponent,” Holgorsen said. “Delaware State is no different than Virginia Tech when it comes to the 140 guys that are in this room.”

One thing West Virginia hopes changes this week is the quality of play from its backups. The offense didn’t come out with the same urgency and tempo that it had in the first half, even with its starters playing early in the second half.

“We’re going to have to rely on these guys at the end,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “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.”

Defensively, West Virginia gave up 10 unanswered points to start off the second half and allowed 279 total yards after giving 191 yards in the first half.

With the East Carolina game behind them, West Virginia’s approach and goals will remain the same. The team is focused on themselves and look to improve upon their technique and execution so it’ll benefit them in the long run.

“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,” Fifth-year senior linebacker Al-Rasheed Benton said. “Those are the things you take these weeks and get into those habits and keep those going throughout the year.”

With another less than stellar opponent coming to Morgantown this weekend, West Virginia’s backups will more than likely get another opportunity to prove themselves and earn trust from their coaches and teammates.

However, it’s not a question of if the backups will play this weekend, it’s a question of when.

“Dana (Holgorsen) is big on playing a half and getting (the starters) for the first drive of second half,” Spavital said. “I think that what he was trying to emphasize in this past game was we had the conversation of pulling the starters, but he wants them to be in the habit of taking about a 20 or 30-minute break and be able to go out there and get back into the rhythm of things.”

No matter when the starters may be pulled from this Saturday’s game, the Mountaineers are going to have to play a complete game from start to finish against Delaware State if they hope to avoid repeating their sloppy second half play from last week.

“One thing I know about (Delaware State) is they play hard,” Benton said. “Every game no matter the outcome, they’ll play hard and they’ll play all four quarters.”

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