In the second to last game of the regular season against Pittsburgh, Starks suffered a concussion early on. Despite the injury, he stayed for the remainder of the contest.
“It was a play against Pitt,” Starks explained. “I was cracked back in the line by the safety and when I hit him I just knew something wasn’t right. I just decided to play through it and get through the game.”
Starks was informed the following Monday that he would not be able to participate in the Mountaineers final game of the regular season against Rutgers. The concussion not only held Starks out for the contest against the Scarlet Knights, but also kept him out of practice for an additional week. Starks was also in a green limited contact jersey for several additional days before being released for full duty prior to coming to Jacksonville.
“It felt weird but I just thought it was a headache and that it would go away eventually,” said Starks.
The extended preparation for the Seminoles has been especially beneficial to players like Starks who are battling back from injuries. Not only has the month-long break given the team a chance to get healthy, but they have also been able to get very acquainted with film on their Florida State opponents.
“[Florida State] has been watching film on us for more than a month now,” said Starks. “They probably have us down as well as we have them down. I think going out there Friday is going to be a great matchup. We’re going to go after it with one another.”
Preparing for Friday’s bowl game has many of the players thinking back to the Meineke Car Care Bowl last year. Starks assures that, like last year, the team is planning to throw some wrinkles into their game plan that will not show up on the film that the Seminoles have on them.
“I think hitting them with something that they’re not looking forward to is something that might help us out later in the game,” said Starks. “I think we came out strong [last year] and we attacked. We stayed in the attack mode the entire game. That’s what got us our victory, I think.”
One thing that will be very different in this year’s bowl game is that for the first time in five years, the Mountaineers are taking the field without quarterback Pat White. White was undefeated in bowl games during his playing career at West Virginia, leading the Mountaineers to four consecutive wins.
“With or without Pat, which he was a great player, we have to move on,” said Starks. “We have to play with the teammates that we have now. I think it would be nice just to show the Mountaineer nation and everybody in America that we are the Mountaineers with or without Pat on the team.”
Not only does Starks feel as though his team is physically ready to battle the Seminoles but he feels as though the team chemistry is at an all time high.
“I think we have team camaraderie down,” admitted Starks. “We know what we need to do to win and we have to get a victory out of here. We’re just doing the little things that we need to do in every practice to get better. I think we are on a great note right now. Our chemistry with one another is there. We don’t have to talk about anything too much like where we have to be at or where [Brown] needs us to be when he throws the ball.”
While the majority of people are focused on sending Florida State’s head coach Bobby Bowden out with a win, Starks has another group of people he would like to send out on top.
“I think it’s very important to send every single senior out with a win,” said Starks. “Losing is never good. I think all of the underclassmen and everyone feels the same way about it too.”