The Mountaineers are in their first Big 12 season and there has never been more excitement surrounding the program. Give WVSports.com a try with a 7-day free trial.
No. 8/9 West Virginia (1-0) will hit the road for a matchup against FCS opponent James Madison (2-0) at Fed-Ex Field this weekend and if the past is any indication the Mountaineers must be ready for the challenge.
James Madison beat Virginia Tech 21-16 in an early season matchup in Blacksburg in 2010, and the Dukes have played other FBS opponents well under head coach Mickey Matthews.
"We've been playing it up quite a bit. The three-point loss to Maryland three-years ago is something we've talked about and already this year there have been six FCS teams that have beat FBS teams," head coach Dana Holgorsen said.
"They're going to come in expecting to win and we've got to counter," he added.
On film, Holgorsen has been impressed with how sound James Madison is in their schemes and the effort that the group brings to the football field.
"They're a good ball club," he said.
Offensively the Dukes return a very good one-two combo in Justin Thorpe at quarterback and Dae'Quan Scott at running back, but an injury could cost Scott a chance at playing in the game. The Dukes will attempt to control the game by running the football which will open up for big plays down the field in the passing game.
"They want those two guys to touch the ball quite a bit," he said.
Holgorsen also has been impressed with the defense of James Madison, which has been the foundation of the success Matthews has had since he's been the head coach.
"They tackle tremendously well. We anticipate this being a bigger challenge than what we faced a week ago," he said.
The location of the game is important for recruiting to provide a product easily accessible to players in the area. Because West Virginia is the host team for the matchup, the Mountaineers can host recruits at Fed-Ex field but due to NCAA rules they can't have any contact with prospects in attendance.
There's still been no decision made on the potential redshirt status of sophomore running back Dustin Garrison. The coaching staff will continue to monitor the situation throughout the season and depending on how it continues to progress and respond, it could be an instance where they only use him if need be.
"It's a long season and that's a position that takes hits," he said.
Because Saturday will mark Sam Huff day and pay tribute to the former West Virginia and Washington Redskin great, Holgorsen spoke to the event.
"Tremendous legend in West Virginia, great player," he said.