"The good thing is Braun has actually played center before and he's also practiced there, so it's not a thing where we're unfamiliar with each other," Smith said. "It's just about him moving over one slot and a new guy stepping in there.'
It's hard to blame Holgorsen for wanting to maintain some competitive advantage against an Orange defense that likes to blitz and to stress the offensive line with constant pressure and varying attacks. They rank No. 10 nationally in tackles for a loss per game (7.5) and sacked Smith nine times the previous two games.
"You're trying to cost me some sleep, right, pointing out the obvious?" he said. "It's a very good, well-coached defense that plays hard and plays with tremendous effort. The scheme is tricky because they're going to blitz us a lot. Last year, I think the first 18 blitzes were all different."
Don't count the Mountaineers (7-5) among the worried. The team met for more than 90 minutes before hitting the dance floor and revisited the lessons taught and learned during practices on campus and the mistakes made in the final practice before the break.
The practice inside the ballroom, which Holgorsen said was "slightly smaller" than WVU's indoor facility he rarely uses because it's so small, followed a regular practice script. It wasn't the optimal preparation, but it was more continuation than distraction. That hardest and most important work was done back on campus.
"A long time ago, I was a track coach and we did all our preparation 10 days prior to the state track meet and we did absolutely nothing the week of the meet except go out and break a sweat," said defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who said he waited about 12 hours on a plane because of weather in Dallas Tuesday to fly four hours and eventually join the team early Wednesday morning.
"It's all about peaking at the right time. We went really hard through the course of last week. We went extremely hard and practiced at the speed of the game so when we came here it was more mental. You see guys lose the mental part of it when they get to a bowl game because they're going to this event or that event or sightseeing tours or whatever it may be, and they're not physically ready to play."
WVU practiced last week like the game was that Saturday. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said the coaching staff planned previously to simply pick up where they left off once the team made it here.
"All we had to do was reintroduce to them what they know and what we were doing in practice," he said. "If we played (last) Saturday, we felt like we had a great grasp for what we were doing. Now it's just three or four extra days to polish it up. Would we have liked a physical practice (Wednesday)? Yeah, it would have been nice to get out there. But we still have a couple days to get ready."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.