West Virginia not overlooking James Madison

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Quarterback Geno Smith hasn't seen highlights of James Madison beating Virginia Tech since he caught it on SportsCenter when it happened in 2010.

He sure knows what happened.

Saturday, Smith will lead ninth-ranked West Virginia (1-0) onto FedEx Field in Landover, Md., after an off week and armed with a healthy respect for the Dukes.

"Virginia Tech is not the only team that has lost to an FCS team, and we don't want to be a team that does it," said Smith. "We know how hard those guys from the FCS play, so we're expecting a good game.

"They have some really talented guys, first of all. They play in sync. They play hard. We don't expect a lot of mistakes out of those guys."

Every Mountaineers player and coach stressed that the team won't take the meeting lightly. James Madison is ranked No. 6 in Division I-AA and also ranks third in scoring defense at that level.

Coach Dana Holgorsen said this week "we anticipate this being a bigger challenge than what we faced a week ago."

Translation: He expects James Madison's defense will be more challenging than Marshall's.

He expounded on that Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

"They tackle well, and they are sound. If you are fundamentally sound and you play with effort, you will be good. What I see out of them is what I would like to see out of us," said Holgorsen.

"We want to get to the ball and make tackles. We need to do it all the time, instead of two-thirds of the time. It is really pretty impressive watching them get to the ball and making tackles.

"The challenge offensively for us will be getting to guys and sustaining our blocks. It is going to make our job harder offensively because of their fundamentals."

Cornerback coach Daron Roberts agreed.

"We'll show them highlights from the 2010 Virginia Tech game," said Roberts. "You watch this team on offense, you can't take them for granted. They've got some explosive play-makers. There's not a person in our locker room that feels this is going to be an easy game whatsoever."

Roberts story to air nationally

Roberts' path to the college football coaching ranks was unique.

The summer of '06, heading into his final year of Harvard Law School, Roberts went to a football camp and discovered what he wanted to do with his life: coach football.

He sent out 164 letters -- two to every NFL team, and one to each of the top-50 college football teams.

"It's been a great ride," said Roberts. "I always say it's similar to writing a brief for an appellate court. When you're studying an opponent, you're looking for weaknesses."

Roberts will be the subject of a piece on NBC Sports Network at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Ticket sales slow

Ticket sales for the game have been slow. The stadium has a capacity of 85,000 but likely will be more than half empty.

West Virginia had sold 9,600 tickets by Tuesday afternoon, according to Matt Wells, the program's assistant athletic director for marketing and sales, who anticipates about 20,000 West Virginia fans will be on hand for the Saturday game. James Madison had sold another 7,000, and the Washington Redskins were using sites like Groupon, in addition to Ticketmaster to sell tickets.

Playing at a pro stadium in the in the D.C. area -- a hotbed of recruiting -- is important said Holgorsen. "It is important to us to have a presence over there. It is important recruiting-wise. It is important to the 20 or so kids from that area."

Running back out?

One of James Madison's top offensive players might not play Saturday. Running back Dae'Quan Scott, the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) offensive player of the week last week, is questionable because of an ankle injury.

wvusports


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