MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Pat Eger typically sleeps in on Tuesday mornings, but this time he was in the training room at 5:30 a.m. receiving treatment on his sprained left ankle.
The pre-sunrise treatment session was one of three that day for West Virginia’s senior center, desperately angling to get his ankle into playing shape for Saturday’s game at TCU. Intent on helping his team extend its bowl streak to 12 seasons, Eger said his senior class has another month to provide a meaningful legacy.
“I’m not going to be remembered for the (2012) Orange Bowl,” he said. “That’s the legacy of guys like Don Barclay, Julian Miller and Bruce Irvin. Me and this year’s seniors are going to be remembered for however we end up this season.”
The prospects of a lower-tier bowl game might not seem like an enticement, but one need only look at Baylor—which dug out of a 4-5 hole by winning its final four games last season—to see the residual perks of a strong finish.
“There’s carryover there,” Eger said. “With Baylor, that helped them build excitement and confidence during the offseason.”
Though listed as day-to-day on coach Dana Holgorsen’s injury report, Eger said he “absolutely” plans on playing Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas, where the Mountaineers are 13-point underdogs. The ankle, so tender on Monday, had improved substantially by Tuesday afternoon, though Eger still sat out practice.
The 6-foot-6, 302-pounder drew strong reviews for what turned out to be a 19-play afternoon at Kansas State last Saturday. Coincidentally, Eger was engaged in his one of his best blocks of the day early in the second quarter when a Wildcats linebacker dove at the feet of Dreamius Smith and wound up rolling into the lineman’s ankle.
Frustrated to be limping off the field on a series in which WVU eventually scored its first touchdown, Eger admitted he “was really ticked off by the injury.” And as trainers attempted to solicit information about pain points, Eger—who did not return to the game—said he barked “choice words” into the exosphere.
“That just comes from playing inside, but what I did wrong was I stopped moving my feet,” Eger said. “I pinned their frontside backer and stopped moving my feet. If I’d have kept driving my man, the guy probably wouldn’t have rolled into me.”
Some of the blame for Clint Trickett missing open receivers at K-State was his nervousness in the pocket from being sacked twice and hurried or flushed on five other drop-backs. Yet the quarterback said film study made him soften his review of the line’s performance after a 35-12 loss.
“After we watched film, it wasn’t as bad as maybe we thought immediately after the game,” Trickett said. “I trust my line.”
Eger, however, agreed the line’s overall performance was inadequate, saying Trickett “was right not to trust us because we let him get hit a few times in recent games. It’s easy to lose a quarterback’s trust, but it’s hard to get it back.”
SPAIN STANDS OUT
Even from the sideline, Eger could sense that left guard Quinton Spain was having a tremendous game in Manhattan. Watching game film verified it.
“He was already playing well, but he just bumped it up to another level,” Eger said.
The raves cascaded down from head coach Dana Holgorsen, who called it Spain’s best game of the season, and offensive line coach Ron Crook.
“He played physical, he played tough on every snap,” Crook said. “It was good to see and now he has to be consistent with it. We expect him to be there every game moving forward.”