WVU’s Long finally getting some respect
CHARLESTON — West Virginia University football head coach Dana Holgorsen was outspoken this season about a perceived lack of respect for standout linebacker David Long.
Long, a junior from Cincinnati, went through the season without being recognized in the Big 12′s weekly awards. Holgorsen aired his grievances, and Long kept plugging along as the heart and soul of the Mountaineer defense.
Last week, however, Long was honored by the league’s coaches as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Holgorsen, on a recent conference call for the upcoming Camping World Bowl, said it was about time his star linebacker got some recognition.
“Not surprised,” Holgorsen said. ”(Long) finally got recognized for what I thought all along. We can start with the best player, best linebacker in the Big 12 but I think it goes farther than that. It’s good to finally see him get some due with as many plays as he makes for us.”
It wasn’t hard to spot Long on the field when West Virginia was on defense. Just look for the ball or the ball carrier, and Long was likely not far away. Through 11 games played this season, Long led the Mountaineers with 97 total tackles (68 of the solo variety). He spent a lot of time in the opposition’s back field as well, tallying a team-high 18.5 tackle for a loss and 7 sacks.
“As strong of a leader as he is for us and as quality of a young man as he is for us, it was awful nice to see him get that attention,” Holgorsen said. “He’s got a bright future and he’s done a lot for us. The more he plays, the more attention he’s going to garner.”
ORANGE ON NEW GROUND: Syracuse head coach Dino Babers has his Orange in a bowl game for the first time in five seasons and with an opportunity to win 10 games in a season for the first time since 2001.
“I would hope they’re very excited,” Babers said of his team. “I know (WVU) goes bowling all the time, but this is new ground for us. I just have to make sure they’re not acting like the new kid at school and they’re so excited about their surroundings they forget they have a fantastic West Virginia football team to get ready for.”
Babers, who spent nearly 30 years as an assistant coach at various levels of the game before landing his first head coaching gig in 2014 at Bowling Green, has led Syracuse to a 9-3 record. That is the best record for the Orange since bolting the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013.
This year’s Camping World Bowl will be the first time the Mountaineers and Orange have played since the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York.
CAMPING WORLD BOWL WEST VIRGINIA (8-3) VS. SYRACUSE (9-3)
5:15 p.m. Dec. 28 Camping World Stadium Orlando, Fla.
Radio: WWQB 102.3-FM