NCF Nation: Matt Moro

Orange Bowl: Three Keys for WVU

January, 4, 2012
You saw the preview and prediction. Now here are three keys for West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl against Clemson:

1. Get into rhythm. It's hard to keep up all your momentum when more than a month has passed between football games, especially when your offense is so dependent on rhythm and timing. Nobody really knows how the long layoff is going to impact this offense, but coach Dana Holgorsen has said all week that his team has done all it can to prepare for this game. What really will help rhythm is protecting quarterback Geno Smith, who doesn't do so well when he's flustered and out of the pocket. "We need to dominate," center Joe Madsen said. What also will help is the short passing game out of the backfield, an area that West Virginia is going to have to adjust with Dustin Garrison out.

2. Safety help. By now you already know how much of a blow it is for West Virginia to be without starting safety Terence Garvin, a two-year starter with 72 tackles this season and 3.5 sacks. West Virginia has no experienced players to fill in at the spur position, so the Mountaineers will go with a rotation of Shaq Petteway, Wes Tonkery and Matt Moro. There could be other tinkering as well, as the game wears on. Clemson, of course, averages 284.8 passing yards a game, and has explosive players like Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Dwayne Allen. Getting pressure up front is going to really help take pressure off the back end, and players like Keith Tandy and Brodrick Jenkins are also going to have to step up from their corner positions as well.

3. Be special. It cannot be stated enough how big a role special teams plays in any game, most especially one with teams as evenly matched as Clemson and West Virginia. The Mountaineers have been shaky at times in this category, and cannot afford another bad punting game -- especially with a good punter in Dawson Zimmerman on the other sideline. It will be great to see the kickoff return duel between Sammy Watkins and Tavon Austin. Watkins has one kickoff return for touchdown this season; Austin has two. One of these players could decide the game in this hugely important phase.

West Virginia news and notes

January, 3, 2012
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Here are a few news and notes from West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen's final news conference before the Discover Orange Bowl against Clemson:
  • Holgorsen said he had not made a decision on who would start at safety in place of the injured Terence Garvin. Freshmen Shaq Petteway and Wes Tonkery, and junior college transfer Matt Moro will all be rotated in. "When you lose Terence Garvin, who was our leading tackler last year and has played a lot of football, you can't just replace him with one guy," Holgorsen said. "And all those guys I mentioned are all new guys. Matt is a junior college kid first year, Wes is a freshman, Shaq is a true freshman. You've got a lot of guys that haven't been put in that situation. So what you do is you plug one guy in, see how it works, and then if you need to take him off and calm him down and put somebody else in there, then you need to do that."
  • One of Holgorsen's bigger concerns about playing in the game was the way his players would handle some of the distractions of South Beach. But he said there were no problems with any of his players. "We all had our concerns with it just because it's a busy place, and there's a lot to do," he said. "I give our team a tremendous amount of credit. You know, we named captains in the beginning of the week with Geno Smith, Joey Madsen, Keith Tandy and Najee Goode, and then we talked to the rest of the seniors about this being your team and there's going to be situations out there to where you're going to have to make decisions on whether you do the right thing or do the wrong thing. That's no different here than it is in Morgantown throughout the course of the week. I just was really proud of how the guys handled themselves."
  • Holgorsen was also asked if there was such a thing as being over prepared, with so much time to get ready for the game. "You've got to be careful with time on your hands," he said. "Coaches have a tendency to outsmart themselves at times, so you've got to figure out what your team does well, which we've had a lot of time here in the last four months to figure out what our team does well, and we've just got to put them in those positions to be successful."