WVU looks to send seniors out with win in final home game vs. Kansas
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 00:11
Saturday afternoon won’t just mark the final regular season game of the 2012 season for the West Virginia football team.
For 22 Mountaineers, it will be the final time they trot out of the Milan Puskar Stadium tunnel, dressed in the old Gold and Blue.
"They are excited about it, and I am excited about preparing them for it," said West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. "That is truly their Senior Day. We will go through the process and lean on them to finish the year strong. There is a big difference in 7-5 and 6-6 in our minds. We will work our tail off to get as prepared as we can."
Awaiting West Virginia (6-5, 3-5) is a Kansas team (1-10, 0-8) that hasn’t defeated a current member of the Big 12 Conference since 2010.
Despite the Jayhawks’ recent track record, there were many games they could have won but fell short.
Most of KU’s success has been due to the performance of junior running back James Sims.
"They have become more of a running team. They are going to lean on their two good running backs, James Sims and Tony Pierson," Holgorsen said. "They will run the zone read with them, establish the run and try to put the ball in play when they need to."
The West Virginia defense showed vast improvements against Iowa State in its last outing, when it snapped its longest losing streak since 1986.
And the Mountaineer offense continued to appear to regain its rhythm after the sudden sputter in back-to-back losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State earlier in the season.
The Jayhawk defense is talented, though, and could present problems for the second-year head coach and his staff.
"Our offense is going to do what we do. We will get the ball into a couple of our players’ hands as much as we can," Holgorsen said. "(Kansas defensive coordinator) Dave Campo is a pretty good football coach. They present some problems with what they do. Nothing statistically jumps off the screen that they do from a special teams standpoint. They do like to change their schemes up a good bit.
"We are going to figure out what to practice against and make some in-game adjustments. It is business as usual, and we are looking forward to the game."
If West Virginia wants to finish the regular season with a winning record and a successful offense, it will need another strong performance from the versatile inside receiver Tavon Austin.
Austin, who will be playing his last game at Mountaineer field, has played receiver and running back in recent games, while also holding his duties as the punt and kick-return man.
"We have been trying to find ways to get him the ball. Tavon has caught more than 200 passes in two years. Have we failed getting him the ball? No," Holgorsen said. "It is a little easier getting him the ball when he is standing right next to you, as opposed to slot or wideout.
We have accomplished getting him the ball in a variety of ways."
The Jayhawks and Mountaineers will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.