On Saturday, West Virginia will face preseason-No. 2 Alabama in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for the annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game Saturday.
The Georgia Dome, which has a permanent seating capacity of 71,250, will serve as a bit of a different game environment than the Mountaineers are used to.
With West Virginia relocating to the Big 12 Conference prior to the 2012 season, the Mountaineers haven’t played a game in a dome atmosphere since traveling to Syracuse’s Carrier Dome during the 2011 season.
Then-No. 11 West Virginia lost to an unranked Syracuse team, 49-23.
Dome atmospheres can be hard to prepare for, unlike the outdoor stadiums West Virginia is accustomed to playing in. Redshirt senior quarterback Clint Trickett said he understands how the Georgia Dome’s noise level provides a different dynamic the Mountaineers’ offense must prepare for.
“It’s a lot different. The sound in that dome stays in there,” Trickett said. “There are SEC bands who play their music loud and proud. There’s so much pageantry with it.”
The location of the Georgia Dome doesn’t exactly benefit the Mountaineers, either. The drive from Tuscaloosa, Ala. – where Alabama’s campus is located – to Atlanta, is approximately three hours.
The drive from Morgantown to Atlanta, is a little more than nine hours.
Trickett said he believes the majority of the fans in the Georgia Dome on Aug. 30 will be Alabama fans, but he doesn’t expect to let the crowd of football-crazed SEC fans have a major impact on WVU’s offense.
“We have some things that we do for noise whether it be signals or silent plays,” he said. “We never let noise dictate what we do.”
For head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense to operate successfully, there must be strong communication between he and Trickett, as well as the rest of the offense. This figures to be a bit of a challenge the Mountaineers must face in a dome that will more than likely be filled to capacity.
However, one of the benefits West Virginia has is an experienced quarterback with Trickett leading the team with a good amount of big-game experience.
The offense won’t be the only unit tested by the Georgia Dome’s noise level.
The defense will also need to be able to communicate with first-year defensive coordinator Tony Gibson from the sideline. Alabama runs more of a pro-style offense that typically huddles before each play, which will be beneficial for the Mountaineers’ defense.
However, Alabama’s first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin may throw in some no-huddle sequences to keep West Virginia’s defense on their toes.
Alabama’s team will be ready and knows what to expect having faced Virginia Tech in the same setting a year ago in its season opener.
The Mountaineers will need to adjust quickly to the dome’s noise level and communicate efficiently with the coaching staff to compete with a very talented Alabama team.