By Dave Morrison
Register-Herald Sports Writer
It will be the final home game for 16 West Virginia seniors Friday night when the Mountaineers host Backyard Brawl rival Pitt at Milan Puskar Stadium.
The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN.
This is the last time they will play here,” Holgorsen said. “Any time there is transition, seniors are affected more than anyone. I have tremendous amounts of respect for Najee (Goode), Keith (Tandy), Julian (Miller), Don Barclay and Tyler Rader. There is a big list of them.”
Holgorsen said the team should play inspired for those seniors.
“We owe them a victory. It isn’t about just those 16 guys, though. Everyone has to do their best to go out and get a victory.”
There is a distinct former WVU flavor to the Pitt coaching staff.
In addition to head coach Todd Graham, a former co-defensive coordinator at WVU, several of the staff at Pittsburgh have Mountaineer ties.
Former offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, former defensive backs coach Tony Gibson and former graduate assistant and receivers coach Tony Dews are also on the Pitt staff.
Holgorsen said it isn’t likely to effect the outcome.
“It could help, but they may try to overthink it, too,” Holgorsen said. “You only have 25 seconds in between play. We are just going to line up and play football. There are a lot of crossover and games played during the course of the week. If it gave you an advantage, schools would buy coaches to gain an advantage.
Holgorsen said he would like to continue the rivalry with Pitt, even though WVU is headed for the Big 12, and Pitt the ACC.
“We should play because of what it means to the community and the state and Pittsburgh,” Holgorsen said. “You want to play a lot of your non-conference games (closer to home) because the Big 12 is a broader conference. You have to travel a good distance away.”
Recruiting also comes into play.
“The biggest draw from a recruiting standpoint is that we are going to play here seven times a year,” Holgorsen said. “Kids pick their school because they want to play there, not where they play away games. We want to make WVU as good as possible from a facilities, coaching, social and educational standpoint. You want to pick non-conference games that are here, but ones that are also close to here.”
Holgorsen said he was rooting for his former team Oklahoma State during its 37-31 double-overtime loss to Iowa State over the weekend.
“I was rooting for Oklahoma State to win,” Holgorsen said. “I watched Houston and hoped they would win, too. Those are guys that I coached with and spent a lot of time with. It is too bad that it happened to Oklahoma State. They are not out of it though. Everyone else lost. If you try to predict what happens over the next two week, you will be wrong.”
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