NEW YORK - All things considered, West Virginia's on-site preparations for Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl could have gotten off to a better start.That they didn't is probably the best evidence for why logic and tradition seem squarely at odds with playing football bowl games in northern climes.Not only did the Mountaineers have to deal with alternately rainy, snowy and windy conditions on their first full day in New York, they pretty much had to scrap their Wednesday practice. The weather forced coach Dana Holgorsen to cancel the planned trip to Fordham and left WVU working out at the team hotel in mid-town Manhattan."We woke up to a blizzard and that's not cool,'' Holgorsen said. "But we'll deal with it.''
Well, actually the Mountaineers woke up to a threat of a blizzard. The actual rain and wind and eventually snow didn't come until later in the day. But right from the start Holgorsen saw the potential for a miserable workout that might have done more harm than good, so he went in a different direction.The team worked out in shorts and jerseys in a ballroom, apparently getting most of their work in the form of rigorous conditioning from strength coach Mike Joseph and his staff."I'm pretty sure a couple of guys threw up,'' said quarterback Geno Smith. "But we got some good work in.''Syracuse, which had scheduled its practice at Columbia for earlier in the day, got its workout in before any of the bad weather hit in the afternoon.The problem with not working out on Wednesday before a Saturday game is that it is usually one of a team's two hard, physical practices. As it is, West Virginia will have none of those leading up to Saturday's game. Holgorsen dismissed the team after last Friday's practice to go home for Christmas and the team reassembled Tuesday night in New York.
Holgorsen, though, doesn't think that will be a huge issue."I guess we should forfeit,'' he said sarcastically. "But every bowl game I've ever been to has been different from a practice standpoint, a weather standpoint, all of that. You never know how things are going to work out."It's not ideal, but we'll be fine.''In an effort to put an even more positive spin on the lack of practice, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said it could actually be a benefit. He wouldn't want to try something like this in, say, September or October, but at the end of December, why not?"These guys have been going at it hard since the first of August. You can only take so much pounding,'' said Patterson, who was elevated to his coordinator position at the end of the regular season. "The whole schedule is so fractured anyway with finals and the break and all of that. I think it could actually be a help.''The bottom line, though, is that West Virginia has to deal with the schedule. The team will practice today outside at Fordham no matter the weather, then have a walk-through on Friday and the game on Saturday. It's a far cry from the week the team spent in South Florida a year ago leading up to the Orange Bowl, but that's just the way it is.
"We won't use it as an excuse,'' Holgorsen said. "We got a lot of work done in Morgantown [before the Christmas break]. We'll be fine.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1