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WVU facing a road challenge with Syracuse

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By Josh Sickles
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011
 

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. — West Virginia has found comfort at home for most of this season, playing five of its first six games on the road.

The Mountaineers have won all but one game at Milan Puskar Stadium this season, but now, they'll need to have that same success away from Mountaineer Field.

No. 11 West Virginia (5-1, 1-0) will finish its season with four of the final six games on the road, starting with Syracuse on Friday night. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said a road-heavy second half doesn't matter to his team.

"You know how many home games you have and how many games are on the road, so it doesn't matter," Holgorsen said. "You only worry about what you can control."

West Virginia had success in its only road game this season, defeating Maryland, 37-13, and now the Mountaineers must do it the rest of the season. The team keeps the same routine on the road that it does at home and tries to focus on the actual game.

"You just want to have the same mindset as if we were playing at home," senior defensive tackle Julian Miller said. "You don't want to let it bother you playing at their place."

Holgorsen has never been to Syracuse and its Carrier Dome. A number of Mountaineer players have and are familiar with the challenges of playing in the dome.

The last game Holgorsen played in a dome was in 2009. Serving as offensive coordinator with Houston, he traveled to the Louisiana Superdome to face Tulane. Houston won, 44-16.

In that game, the dome's temperature was kept below freezing to keep things cool, because the New Orleans Saints were set to host the Dallas Cowboys the next day.

In Syracuse, the Carrier Dome will get hot with all the bodies inside the building. It'll be a challenge for the Mountaineers.

"It can get hot, kind of stuffy," Miller said. "The past two times I've been there, they haven't had a sellout crowd, but it was pretty loud."

Holgorsen added: "It will be played nationally on ESPN, so there will be a lot of people watching us, so it's a challenge we look forward to."

West Virginia also faces a unique challenge with its scheduling. The Mountaineers will arrive in Syracuse Thursday night and have all day Friday before the game.

During West Virginia's only other night game, Holgorsen said the coaches backed everything up and let the players sleep in until 11 a.m. before the team started its routine leading up to the game.

Holgorsen said he's not sure what the schedule will be, because there's no football on during the day Friday.

"I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do from 12-4," he said. "We'll keep talking about that and come up with something that we'll try to keep everyone occupied. You don't just want to take naps."

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