"When you come out and in your first four series you can't get a snap back to your quarterback, and on your first punt you run up into the backside of your offensive line and kick the ball off your own tackle, that pretty much set the tone for the way it was going to be. Thank goodness it didn't set the tone for the entire season. These kids grew, and we finally figured out we could play football with anybody.''
SC went 5-5 last season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. It nearly rebounded from a 1-4 start to get there, however.
"We've had a tendency here to get better as the year goes on,'' Messinger said, "There have been years where we struggle early and, as the year goes on, we get better and better. We hope that's the way it ends this year, but I'd kind of like to start out firing on all cylinders all year.''
GW figures to have more weapons than just Switzer, who burned SC for 277 yards and four rushing TDs last year and added a fifth score on a 79-yard reception.
Also returning are bruising fullback-linebacker Dustin Crouser, quarterback Trevor Bell, receiver Jordan Clay and linebacker Trevon Johnson. Even reserve running back Jacob Jackson, another fleet talent, could provide flashes as SC keys on Switzer. In last week's MSAC scrimmage, Jackson ran seven times for 46 yards, mostly with the first unit.
"If I can get this team to quit worrying about where it's been and worry about where we want to go, well, that's the chore this week," ' Edwards said. "We have a pretty mature bunch and I hope they do that. They do like to play.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.