"You try to give them that same motivation over and over and over ... 'Guys, it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen,'" he said.
"For us it was just a few plays during the game that was getting us out of it. There were times finally we just made some plays in key situations late in the game and got over the hump against Seton Hill."
That victory, a 49-35 verdict against the Griffins on Oct. 8, 2011, marked Kirkland's first career head coaching victory.
UC dropped a 38-point decision to UNC Pembroke the next week, but reeled off seven consecutive wins stretching into 2012.
"It definitely was tough in the beginning," said senior linebacker Matt Kelly, who was a sophomore on the 2011 team. "You just have to always believe in the head coach and trust the system."
Like every other game during the start of Anderson's coaching career, this one is important.
Both coaches will utilize motivational ploys to rally his team.
Undoubtedly, Kirkland will remind many of his juniors and seniors that they have been there.
"We were in the same position a couple years ago and it doesn't say you're a bad team," Kelly said. "They have a new coaching staff coming in, a new system and this is about the same time we got it clicking a couple years ago. We're not taking them lightly at all."
Anderson won't worry about who the Yellow Jackets are playing because getting that first victory is paramount no matter the opponent.
The Kanawha County rivalry hasn't really been one, with UC holding a 7-1 record in their eight meetings since the former Morris Harvey College reinstated football in 2003.
I anticipate a UC victory on Saturday, and while it won't likely be the fourth shutout for the Golden Eagles in the series, a decisive verdict is expected.
That would put State behind UC's turnaround pace of 2011. Still, I bet the Yellow Jackets' upward mobility isn't very far away.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstev...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.