Spring football at any university or college around the country can get boring and dry. Fifteen practices of hitting guys on your own team without any game prep can get old quickly.
This spring, West Virginia and Head Coach Dana Holgorsen didn't let the monotony of daily practice get to the program. Holgorsen opened four practices including the Gold-Blue Game and took two of those on the road to Wheeling and Charleston to run drills in front of a curious fan base. Additionally, one underlying thought was in the heads of both coaches and players.
WVU doesn't open the season for another 19-plus weeks, but there is something to be said about playing a game in primetime against college football prestige.
"Having Alabama as that first game pushed us a lot harder. It's a good reminder of why we play the game," said wide receiver Kevin White. "If you can't get excited for that game, you might as well not play football."
Players admitted since the 2013 season ended when lifting weights or going through individual drills and team periods during practice, there was a conscious awareness of the August 30th Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome.
"I'm excited to play against Alabama. That'll be fun especially for a running back. I just can't wait to go against one of the top defenses in college football," said running back Dustin Garrison. "It'll be exciting to just go out there and play our ass off."
From a program standpoint, having Alabama in week one as opposed to recent opponents in William & Mary or Norfolk State or Coastal Carolina is only a good thing.
"It drives our guys. We thrive on being underdogs in those situations, we always have. That is what makes us West Virginia. When nobody gives you a chance, you have to standup to the competition," said running backs coach JaJuan Seider.
Nick Saban and his program can be intimidating, but hanging in the game or pulling off an unlikely win against the Crimson Tide would do wonders for a program coming off an eight-loss season.
"That is a great program, they're at the top and we want to get there. You go and win that game, it'll jump-start everything in front of you," Seider added. "It'll give you a chance to play in more big games down the road."
Seider saw his running backs work hard during the spring and got a sense that those guys understood what they were working for.
"You can't just go in and be in awe of Alabama. We're pretty good too. Last time we played in the Georgia Dome vs. an SEC team we were successful. That's the mentality you have to have," Seider said. "It's a Big 12-SEC matchup, this is a reason why you come to West Virginia."
Quarterback Paul Millard even believes the first game of this season affects the competition for the starting signal caller job. Since isn't an FCS cupcake, he understands Holgorsen wants to be confident in a guy for 60 minutes against a physical Alabama defense.
"I'm sure we'll find a guy for game one against 'Bama," said Millard.
The Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game between West Virginia and Alabama has been set for 3:30 PM on August 30th and will be televised on ABC.