Connect with us

College Football

Mountaineers Realize Challenge of Withstanding Beaver Stadium Crowd



Penn State Beaver Stadium

West Virginia versus Penn State. Mountaineers and Nittany Lions. Big 12 historic program against Big Ten powerhouse. Primetime.

Many will like the sound of that.

In fact, more than 106,000 fans are expected to fill Penn State’s Beaver Stadium when the Mountaineers travel to face the Nittany Lions at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC.

To many teams, and it’s shown in the past, have become overwhelmed very quickly by the noise from the fans combined with the sound system inside Beaver Stadium. West Virginia head coach Neal Brown is excited and embracing the opportunity to play in front of such a crowd.

“To me this is what it’s all about,” Brown said Monday. “When you play on NBC, ABC or CBS, I always think about my grandparents’ house in Gravel Switch, Kentucky. If you have bunny ears you get those games. If anybody in West Virginia still has bunny ears, they get NBC.

“Any time you play on national television, it’s an opportunity. People talk all the time, ‘What a challenge.’ You are starting with Penn State. Yes, that’s true, but it is up to us to make the most of it. It’s a great opportunity. This is why you get into the profession. This is why you want to play big-time football for opportunities like this.”

The Mountaineers and Nittany Lions are set to square off for the first time since 1992. After 59 meetings, Penn State holds a 48-9-2 record against West Virginia, including a stretch of 27 years from 1956 to 1983 where the Nittany Lions didn’t lose a game.

Penn State enters ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 poll while holding what is considered its best roster in head coach James Franklin’s nine-year tenure, making West Virginia, coming of a 5-7 campaign in 2022, the clear underdog.

Oddsmakers Say WVU Has Absolutely No Chance to Even Compete with Penn State

Now in his fifth year leading the Mountaineers, Brown has experience taking underdog teams into hostile venues. As the head coach of Troy in 2017, Brown and the Trojans upset No. 22 LSU 24-21 at Tiger Stadium.

“Our guys really had a chip on their shoulder,” Brown said of the Troy squad. “I think each team is different. Any time you go into enemy territory, and you are a double-digit underdog against a highly ranked opponent, there have got to be some things go your way. But, you’ve also got to have a good football team. My belief is we (West Virginia) have got a good football team. Now, we’ve got to go prove it. It’s hard to stand on a soap box until you go out and play a game. I like our group, and we’ll be hungry.”

Having experienced offensive players is definitely helpful when playing in loud stadiums, and the Mountaineers are currently toting junior center Zach Frazier.

Frazier has started 34 career games coming into the 2023 opener, with appearances including two games at Texas (100,119 capacity), one at sold-out Pittsburgh (68,400), one at Virginia Tech (66,233) and one at Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium (86,112).

“Some of the louder games earlier in my career, we kind of changed how we did the snap count and stuff like that just because it’s harder to hear,” Frazier said. “Once you experience it, you are a lot better at it.”

Asti: WVU Offensive Line Could Lead Mountaineers to Prove Critics Wrong

Brown is attempting to sway things in practice this week to try and simulate the atmosphere at Beaver Stadium.

During team periods, he’s taking the players inside the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility, closing the door and turning up the sound system as loud as possible.

“Will it be as loud as it’s going to be there? I don’t know, I’ve never been there for a game,” Brown said. “But our guys are going to be prepared for as loud as we can possibly get it here. That can’t be an excuse.”

Frazier said tactics such as over-communication and repeating calls to his fellow offensive linemen will help the Mountaineers work around the noise.

With many of the West Virginia players and coaches never having been to Beaver Stadium for a game, it will be quite a first experience.

“We did both scout periods indoors, and I think we used every speaker we have blasting music,” Frazier said. “It probably won’t be as loud as it’s going to be, but it was pretty good because it was kind of hard hearing the person next to you.

“If I tell something to the guard, the guard has got to turn to the tackle and tell them what I said to make sure we’re all on the same page. We played Texas last year and they had over 100,000, but it wasn’t super-loud. From what I’ve heard, this is going to be a loud game.”

Welcome to the new home of WVU football and basketball breaking news, analysis and recruiting. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and check us out on YouTube. And don't forget to subscribe for all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

Get WVSN in your mailbox!

Enter your email address to subscribe to WVSN and receive notifications of new posts by email.