WVU’s Reese Donahue: Bowl Games Matter
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Don’t tell Reese Donahue bowl games don’t matter.
The Mountain State native, always a go-to player for straight talk, was at his forceful best in discussing his approach to the Camping World Bowl, which admittedly isn’t on the national interest level of a New Year’s Six contest. That doesn’t enter into the equation for anyone who takes the game as seriously as he does, though.
“Anybody who says bowl games don’t matter … I don’t know who they are or what they think,” he said, dismissing the narrative held by some that only the top four or five contests are important. “I just had a conversation with somebody about it propelling us to the next season. You go back to that (2015) Cactus Bowl win, it propelled us into the 2016 season, and that was a 10-3 year. Anytime you have a bowl win, it propels you into the next season. Bowl games absolutely do matter.”
Donahue was not throwing shade on those West Virginia players who have elected not to play in the game. He, like many, takes an objective view of their individual decisions, and supports them. However, he’s not listening to any of what he considers nonsense about the game itself being meaningless.
“Everybody that is here wants to be here,” the defensive line mainstay continued. “Nobody is making them be here. What better thing to do than to go down to a nice venue and play a really good team? This is a great opportunity. These are games you dream about playing in. I think the mood on the team is very high. I think everyone is very focused.”
Donahue’s comments echoed those of many other West Virginia players, who reconvened for a couple of practices before finals last week offered a break. The Mountaineers had a full practice schedule this week, then will disperse home for another short break before reassembling in Orlando for practices beginning Dec. 24.
“It’s a really good opportunity for us to get our bodies back,” Donahue said. “Plus, it’s really good to get away mentally. One big thing is – and people don’t realize it – even though the season isn’t here and you guys don’t see us, we definitely see each other. So, we’re here for finals, we’re here for school, and we’re here for football. Just because it’s time off, it doesn’t mean it’s time off. There’s really no off-season if you want to be great. That’s what I feel like we’re striving for, and one day, we’re going to be great just because of the way that we work and the way that we’re putting all of the effort and time in.”
Donahue hopes that begins with a win over Syracuse, which is an opponent he grew up watching WVU compete against.
“It’s really exciting. The Virginia Tech game, that was exciting, and I wish I was going to be around for the Pitt battle, but ultimately it comes down to winning. It doesn’t matter who we play, where we play or when we play. It’s one of those games that I think I’ll look back on and enjoy more, but in the moment it’s all about winning.