Seniors Want to Leave a Legacy
MORGANTOWN — When seniors Tyler Orlosky and Justin Arndt take to the playing surface at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, for a 5:30 p.m. showdown with former-Big East rival Miami, the duo won’t be thinking about playing their last game for the Old Gold and Blue. They will only have the Hurricanes on their minds.
That doesn’t mean, however, the two standouts won’t have thoughts of what their legacy will be when they leave Morgantown.
“Obviously going out with 11 wins would be great,” Orlosky said. “Being able to be mentioned with some of the great linemen who have played here would be great too.”
Orlosky, a finalist for the Remington Award as well as a first team All-Big 12 selection and a second team All-American, will be one of 21 Mountaineers who suit up for the final time when No. 14 West Virginia (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) faces the ACC’s Miami (8-4, 5-3 ACC) in the Russell Athletic Bowl – formerly known as the Champs Sports Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28.
“Just basically get to 11 wins to get into the record book,” said Arndt, an invited walk-on from Martinsburg who became WVU’s top tackler this season. “Every game you go into you want to win. But as a senior it’s a little more special (the bowl game).”
Coach Dana Holgorsen’s sixth Mountaineer team has already accomplished a feat done only eight other times during the school’s 125 year history of competing on the gridiron (1922, 1969, 1993, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011) and the second time since he took over the program in 2011.
“I don’t think so,” Holgorsen said when asked about motivating his players following a long break. “No, I don’t think so. I mean I don’t think so, I think who we are is who we are at this point. I think we have a group of guys who like each other and fight hard for each other, which is why we won a lot of those games.
“Finished the season the right way, got to 10 wins, which is something to be proud of, but the next step is to get to 11. What’s the difference in winning 10 and 11? I mean you get to 11, that’s been done here five times in 125 years. What does it mean to get to 10? Well it’s been done now 10 times in 125 years. There are still things that we can target to where we want to achieve.”
And one of those would have to include getting a win over the Hurricanes.
The two teams will be meeting for the 20th time, but the first time since a then-No. 2 ranked Miami pulled out a heart-stopping, 22-20, victory in Miami in a Thursday night game played on ESPN before a national audience.
“Personally, I don’t remember too much about the rivalry,” Arndt said. “But, once the matchup was announced I began getting texts and emails from family and friends back home telling about the games they saw the two teams play.
“So, we know there is a lot of history. Not all of it good for our fans. But, a chance for us (the seniors) to add to our legacy as we prepare to leave a place we have called home for the last several years.”
In fact the series have been a one-sided affair with the team from the Sunshine State coming out on top in 16 of the previous 19 encounters.
“Yeah, Mark Richt is a good football coach, now, and they’re going to continue to improve,” Holgorsen said. “If you look at his bowl record as a head coach its good. He’s an experienced, established guy who knows how to deal with this, so they have a plan in place and I think we do too from the way we have done bowl games and my 16 years of doing bowl games, we’ve won a bunch of bowl games, so I think we have a pretty good handle on it too.
“They will continue to improve with it because he understands how to do things right when it comes to that, so we’re expecting them to continue to get better.”
Richt is not unfamiliar with the Old Gold and Blue as well. As head coach of the University of Georgia he led his Bulldogs into matchup with WVU in the Sugar Bowl which was held at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The postseason contest had been moved from its normal venue at the Superdome in New Orleans because of major damage caused to the facility during Hurricane Katrina.
“Yeah, I remember playing them,” Richt said. “I remember we let them just out to a big lead early, fought hard to get back into the game and then let them fool us on a fake punt to pull out the win. So, yeah, I remember them.”
A legacy Richt doesn’t want to repeat in 2016.