Orlando, FL – Today West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and Syracuse head coach Dino Babers met with the media ahead of tomorrow’s matchup in the Camping World Bowl. West Virginia is returning Camping World after playing Miami in it two years ago in a Mountaineer loss 31-14.
Dana Holgorsen got things kicked off, “Glad to be down in Orlando once again, it’s a good opportunity to be able to play our last game in 2018. It’s very fitting to play Syracuse and Coach Babers, me and him go way back and these two programs go way back.” he said.
Syracuse may be ranked 10th in total defense in the ACC, but don’t let that stat fool you. This is a defense that likes to get after the quarterback. Holgorsen commented on the Orange’s defense, “This whole blitzing thing, I thought we agreed not to blitz. Syracuse blitzes like 80% of the time and they’re probably going to blitz every play. I thought we made a deal last night.” Holgorsen jokingly said to Coach Babers.
Unlike Holgorsen, Babers is coaching in this rivalry for the first time, but the importance of this matchup is something he knows all about. “Obviously I understand the history, it’s an old rivalry. We have a lot of trophies and things around the office to remind us of the rivalry with West Virginia.” Babers said.
Both coaches were asked how the new redshirt rule will benefit them in the bowl game, being able to play more guys. Babers said he didn’t think it would change much, but Holgorsen was thankful for it “It’s going to effect us. We’ve got two quarterbacks, so if it wasn’t for the redshirt rule I’d be lining up with a walk-in quarterback. We’ve strategically have held off on playing some of our guys. I think I’ve got five guys that have played in three games, so there’s five that are going to play and save their year.” Holgorsen said.
Heading into the bowl game both teams will be missing key starters. The Mountaineers will be without quarterback Will Grier, wide receiver Gary Jennings and left tackle Yodny Cajuste. As for the Orange, they will be without defensive lineman McKinley Williams and Alton Robinson.
“It’s another deal me and Dino made. When this game came about we had a couple of guys sit out so he tried to even it out with a couple of defensive guys that aren’t going to play. So to me, it looks like a pretty evenly matched game.” Holgorsen commented on players absence.
Coach Babers was asked how he views West Virginia and the Big 12 and how tough it is to prepare for an offense like the one the Mountaineers possess. “They have a fantastic football team and I don’t think that people are really giving them their due. Dana has been doing this a long time. Five more years of foundation and work and guys knowing exactly what you want. This is a good football team.” Babers said.
With starting quarterback Will Grier skipping the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft, this gives redshirt sophomore Jack Allison an opportunity to start. Holgorsen said last week that he also plans to play true freshman quarterback Trey Lowe also, who has not seen game action to this point. Coach Babers was asked how to prepare for a situation like this when not knowing what to expect. “To me this is more like a first game than a bowl game. You play a team coming out of camp, you really don’t know what they’re going to do. I think it’s an advantage for West Virginia, I really do.”
One star senior who is playing on the offense is wide receiver David Sills V. He has 36 career touchdowns which puts him only behind Tavon Austin on the schools all-time list. Holgorsen commented on his importance to the program and in the bowl game. “He’s really a team player, he’s going to have a bright future in the NFL. He’s going to play for a while, he’s just a really good football player. He’s excited about being here, he’s a great team guy, he’s leading our team. Hopefully he can catch a few touchdown passes, that’s something he does a pretty good job with.” Holgorsen said.
The Camping World Bowl between West Virginia (8-3) and Syracuse (9-3) will kickoff at 5:15 pm EST in Orlando and can be televised on ESPN & the WATCH ESPN app.