MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When the Mountaineers take the field Thursday in the 62nd AutoZone Liberty Bowl, they’ll play their first game in 26 days. Their most recent outing was a low point in the season.
In its last time out, WVU lost to Iowa State, 42-6, and according to defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae, the team hasn’t forgotten about that performance.
“Our last showing, defensively at least, wasn’t where we wanted to be, so we’ve got more to prove, in my opinion, the anybody else,” Addae said. “Our guys know that, and our coaches, we’re obviously gonna preach that, and that’s about it.”
Army likely feels it has something to prove, too: after going 9-2, the Black Knights originally weren’t selected for a bowl game after the Independence Bowl, a game in which they were obligated to play, was cancelled. They then became a last-minute replacement after Tennessee dropped out of the Liberty Bowl due to virus issues.
But the Mountaineers will have plenty of motivation of their own after nearly four weeks without a game.
“They roll the balls out, we gotta play ball.” Addae said. “They have something to prove, so do we.”
The length of the layoff between contests isn’t any longer than one in a normal season. In 2018, the Mountaineers went 35 days between their regular season finale against Oklahoma and their Camping World Bowl meeting with Syracuse.
But, the Mountaineers held regular practices during that postseason, whereas this year, WVU learned its bowl opponent just 10 days before kickoff and endured a stoppage of all team activities due to a rise in COVID cases within the program.
Still, quarterback Jarret Doege thinks the offense’s rhythm and timing won’t be impacted.
“I think just going to practice, keeping our timing and running fast, we’ve done that well the past couple of weeks, and I don’t think we’ve lost much,” Doege said.
According to the starting quarterback, the team might have benefitted from the break.
“I think the whole team was a little beat up, and now, we’re all feeling fresh, healthy, got away for a couple days last week, and everybody is ready to go play football again,” Doege said.
The Mountaineers will take on Army Thursday at 4 p.m.