By Mickey Furfari
For The Register-Herald
With final exams behind them, West Virginia’s football players resumed practice on Friday for the Discover Orange Bowl game against Clemson.
The 23rd-ranked Mountaineers (9-3) will have completed 10 practice sessions in Morgantown before being released for Christmas.
They will be permitted to go home and spend a few days visiting family and friends. Then they all will reassemble on Thursday, Dec. 29, in Miami, Fla.
That’s where the Orange Bowl battle will be staged on Wednesday night, Jan. 4, 2012. Sixteenth-ranked Clemson (10-3) remains a slight favorite.
West Virginia will have the last five of its allowed 15 practices at one of the high school fields in The Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area.
Coach Dana Holgorsen and his associates have spent two weeks on the road recruiting. He said December is the busiest month of the year for a college football staff.
“Now it’s all about preparing for the Orange Bowl at this point,” the first-year head coach said.
“We want to get a lot done in Morgantown, and make sure we’ve got a good game plan before leaving for Florida.
“Once you get down there, you’re really getting a reward for your season and your achievements.”
Holgorsen wants his players to enjoy the experience, but not so much to where they’re tired and ready to go home.
“So it’s important to balance your time down there,” he said. “We’ve had some success and there have been some positives and a couple negatives.
“You’ve got to work on timing and work with some of the younger guys along with the older guys.”
The student-athletes were urged to prepare well for the semester’s final exams so they would remain academically eligible to play in the bowl game.
Holgorsen said only five or six players have been getting treatments for minor injuries. He’s hopeful they will be healed and ready to play.
“I think everyone is excited about what is in front of us,” Holgorsen continued. “I don’t care what conference you’re in, you want to line up, play the game, and win. That has nothing to do with anything else.”
He refers to the WVU-Clemson matchup as a high-profile contest, and it will be the only postseason football game on Jan. 4.
ESPN will televise the action, beginning at 8 p.m.
The team’s headquarters will be at the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami.