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Norfolk State head coach excited to make return to alma mater
West Virginia will face NCAA Football Championship Subdivision opponent Norfolk State on Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium. This will be the third consecutive year the Mountaineers have faced an FCS team.
Norfolk State is out of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
They finished 7-5 last season, tallying the first back-to-back winning seasons in the school’s history at the FCS level.
The Spartans are fresh off a 37-3 season opening win over Virginia State. Norfolk State head coach Pete Adrian was pleased with the first game.
“We had a good effort on both sides of the ball, especially for the first game,” he said. “We played solid from the start to the finish.”
Adrian, a graduate of West Virginia, played on the offensive line for the Mountaineers and was particularly satisfied with the play from senior quarterback Chris Walley. Walley completed 25-29 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s like having a coach on the field,” Adrian said. “He reads the defenses well, and really doesn’t get rattled.”
The competition for Walley and his teammates will be tougher this week against No. 19 West Virginia. The Mountaineers are 11-0 all-time against FCS opponents.
Coach Pete Adrian and his staff know what they’re up against on Saturday.
“They’re a top 25 football team, Adrian said. “They’ve got speed at every position, and they’ve got a great quarterback in Geno Smith.”
The rowdy fans at Mountaineer Field have been known for having an effect on visiting teams, especially ones not used to playing in big stadiums. It’s something Adrian knows his team is going to have to deal with.
“Having played there, I know the fans will be rather hostile,” Adrian said. “For our players, it will be a great experience. It will be in front of 60,000 people.”
Chris Walley and his offense may be forced to go to a silent snap count to deal with the crowd noise. False starts and delays of game penalties could be something to look out for.
“The stadium is a real pit for noise level. You won’t be able to hear yourself talk from five feet away,” Adrian said.
Junior running back Takeem Hedgeman is Norfolk State’s biggest threat to make a big play. Hedgeman only had 12 rushes for 65 yards against Virginia State, but also caught four passes out of the backfield for 39 yards.
“He’s one of those guys where, if he gets a step, he’s probably going to go all the way,” Adrian said.
“That’s something we’re hoping to see here in the near future.”
The kickoff between Norfolk State and No. 19 West Virginia is set for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
By Nick Arthur, The Daily Athenaeum