Saturday’s last home game of the season is not only a chance to get the team’s eighth season win, but also a chance to send the seniors out of Milan Puskar on a high note. Tuesday several members of the coaching staff were made available to speak with the media ahead of the matchup with the Texas Longhorns.
Associate head coach and defensive coordinator Tony Gibson addressed the media coming off of the heels of another exceptional defensive performance against Kansas State last Saturday. Coach Gibson was very proud of his defense’s performance as well as ready for his seniors to shine against Texas this week.
“Starting out, obviously the first one that comes to mind is (redshirt senior linebacker) Al (Rasheed) (Benton), being here for five years and putting the blood, sweat and tears into the program. He is just a great young man that will be missed.,” Gibson said. “He is a great kid and I will miss him a lot. (senior safety) Kyzir (White) has only been here a couple of years, but still he has been a part of the program and means a lot to the defense. He is a special player. We will miss those guys.”
Coach Gibson knows the importance of Saturday’s noon kickoff, not just for post-season implications, but also for these 20 seniors as they near the end of their Mountaineer careers. Senior Day will surely be an emotional day for players and coaches alike, but both will be ready to tackle the task at hand.
“We are going to miss all of those guys,” Gibson remarked. “It is an emotional day on senior day we have to overcome that quickly and play football and then reflect them afterward.”
Assistant coach and running backs coach Tony Dews remarked to the media just how fast time has gone with these players, especially running back Justin Crawford. Crawford has been a joy for coaches, players and fans to watch during his time at West Virginia and that feeling does not shy away from Coach Dews.
“It’s only been like six to 10 months that has gone fast and he’s been a pleasant guy to coach and fun to be around. I’m hoping that we can send him out, along with all the other seniors, the best way we can,” Dews said. “Hopefully, Justin can come and bring his A-game and perform as well or better than he has all season.”
Coach Dews also shed some light on conversations Coach Holgorsen has had with his coaching staff, which just further highlights the importance of the Longhorns game Saturday afternoon.
“Coach (Dana Holgorsen) talks about our #13. Whatever that 13th game is, whether it’s a bowl game or championship game that leads to other things, who knows,” Dews said. “You’ve just got to focus on the one Saturday or else this team won’t be any fun to deal with.”
As the Mountaineers prepare for Senior Day and attempting their eighth win of the season, the coaching staff prepares just as much. The coaches are aware of the implications of a victory for the Mountaineers, as well as what a final home victory for West Virginia’s seniors will mean to them.