A year ago, WVU didn't work out in the week after the Rutgers game until practicing just once the following Saturday. Then the Mountaineers lost a week of preparation to final exams. The team returned to practice the following Sunday, even though it could have worked out the Friday and Saturday of finals week, as these Mountaineers will.
The 2010 team practiced that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but was given Wednesday off after a light workout that didn't include any football. A day later, the team was in Orlando, but didn't practice at all that day or the next day, which was Christmas Eve.
The Mountaineers practiced Christmas day and the day after and cancelled their walkthrough at the stadium the day before the game. In a normal week, that WVU team practiced three times for the game and then had its walkthrough at the stadium.
And football players are particularly partial to their routines.
When the game arrived, WVU turned the ball over five times in the second half, missed two field goals and allowed more points than it had all season. That ignominy came around when sure-handed Jock Sanders fumbled a punt at his own 7-yard line in the fourth quarter to facilitate N.C. State's final score in the 23-7 win.
"It did get to us," Goode said. "Football is as much mental as it is physical and that messed us up mentally. We had guys last year who could just go out and play, but you started to see at the end of the game, at key points in the game, something you're normally focused on gets messed up and it's not because of the day of the game, but the practices before when we didn't get a chance to go over it."
Holgorsen, who will coach in a bowl game for a 12th consecutive season, is keeping things slight early. There were two practices last week after a week off. The team gets back to work later this week after its final exams.
"Whatever cards you're dealt, you need to be smart enough to be able to address it and deal with it," Holgorsen said.
The team will practice 10 times on campus, travel to Miami Dec. 29 and practice five times at Barry University. Last season, WVU's on-campus practices were inside on the 70-yard field and featured no special teams work. In Orlando, the weather was shockingly cold and so windy the team couldn't work on the kicking game.
"You've got to get your work done here and make sure you've got a good plan and get a lot of work done prior to leaving," Holgorsen said. "Once you get down there, it is a reward and you want them to enjoy it and you don't want to do so much that they're tired and worn out and are ready to go home. It's a tricky balance."
WVU didn't even bother working on Clemson last week. Holgorsen and his staff spent time working on the young players who didn't see the field much, if at all, this season. The Mountaineers also reevaluated themselves, who they are and what they do as they began to think about a game plan that figures to be bigger than normal.
"We're looking for ways to attack who we're playing," Holgorsen said. "We'll have more time on our hands to be able to rep things to where we feel good about it as opposed to repping things and not feeling good about it and getting rid of it."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.