By Alex Hickey
For West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, the choice is simple.
Either the Mountaineers will play North Carolina State as scheduled at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium, or there will be no game at all.
Hurricane Florence is expected to deliver a direct hit on the North Carolina coast Thursday night, and the already-powerful storm’s impact could even be felt in Raleigh, which is some 135 miles inland.
Though the final decision on the game’s fate will be determined by administrators at both schools, Holgorsen made his personal preference clear during his Monday night radio show.
“The only bit of advice that I have given is that we’re not going to try to outsmart this system,” Holgorsen said. “I’m not going to move it to a different location, try to move it up or push it back. That disrupts so many people. It disrupts too many things. We have a plan to play 3:30 on Saturday. If we can’t, then we’re not going to play it.”
Holgorsen cited player safety as one of many reasons that he doesn’t want anyone being put in harm’s way.
“It’s real. It’s dangerous,” Holgorsen said. “We’re not going to put any student-athletes in danger, first and foremost. There’s going to be a whole lot of people affected by this.”
Holgorsen knows from personal experience.
When he was Houston’s offensive coordinator in 2008, the Cougars had to abandon their city as a scheduled home game against Air Force was moved to Dallas with Hurricane Ike bearing down.
It did not go well.
“It hits Friday evening, and we have 75 players watching The Weather Channel until 1 a.m., watching their city getting torn apart by a hurricane,” Holgorsen said. “Then we had to move it up to 10 a.m. to beat the weather, and the system still hits Dallas on Saturday morning. And our guys had had no sleep.”
Needless to say, the Cougars were handed a 31-28 loss. But to Holgorsen, it was more about learning that any attempt to beat Mother Nature is futile.
“When you’re dealing with a system this big and weather this bad, you’re not going to outsmart it,” Holgorsen said. “We lost the game and it really disrupted our whole season. It took us a few weeks to get back on track.”
If the Mountaineers do get an unexpected bye week, they’ll have extra time to prepare for their Big 12 opener against Kansas State.
That benefit has already been noted on social media by a hive of Wolfpack fans who are convinced Holgorsen is trying to dodge their team. But the Mountaineers coach indicated that’s far from the truth.
“It’s a high-profile game. No one wants to play it more than I do, I can assure you that,” Holgorsen said. “But there’s one next week and eight more after that. Hopefully we can play it. If not, life moves on.”
Holgorsen said that sophomore running back Alec Sinkfield is “day-to-day.” Sinkfield left the field in a cart during last Saturday’s win over Youngstown State, but Holgorsen said that Sinkfield will play again this season … Holgorsen also said that he plans to utilize the NCAA’s new rule that allows players to redshirt after playing as many as four games with offensive linemen Michael Brown and Isaiah Hardy.