Stew's Views: Marshall Recap

Following a day of film evaluations and grading, WVU head coach Bill Stewart was ready to move on to the Maryland game. However, it may have been what he didn't say that was as telling as what he did about West Virginia's performance against Marshall.

Stewart will never throw any of his players under the bus, and won't publicly criticize their play in any overt manner. That's simply not the way he's built. However, it's possible at times to read between the lines, and his comments about the play of the offensive line and how it graded out provided at least a couple of clues to what the staff was thinking.

"I thought the offensive line played particularly well at the end of the game," Stewart opened. "The grades are private – those stay within the family. I was pleased with the way they blocked down the stretch."

Left unsaid was the performance for the balance of the game. WVU suffered a number of negative yardage plays, and quarterback Geno Smith was often forced to dodge rushers before throwing the ball. Add in a blocked field goal where linemen were pushed over backward, and it's clear that West Virginia has a lot of work to do up front.

Might WVU change its offensive style a bit in order to ease that pressure? Stewart noted after the game, and again on Sunday, that it's difficult to blitz and get a rush against the pass when the defense doesn't have time to get set. WVU's two-minute offense in the fourth quarter, as well as its hurry-up mode at other points, may have helped the offensive line in that regard. Still, he wasn't ready to commit to increased use of that tactic.

"I'm not sure about that," he said in response to a question about ramping up the pace on offense more often. "It has been good for us, but it is kind of a feel thing. Marshall wasn't getting pressure on us [on those last drives] and I saw that and felt like it was time to pour it on."


The continued maturation of quarterback Geno Smith was again a topic of conversation on Sunday.

"I thought Geno did a great job. He carried the team and threw the ball to Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and Will Johnson. He really spread the wealth. I was very pleased with the way he distributed the ball to those guys during the last two drives.

"I thought he was methodically in tune with what we were thinking and how we were defended," Stewart continued. "There were no timeouts or incompletes on those last drives. He hit all the routes, and made Marshall defend all 52 yards [across the field].

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Stewart also discussed the importance placed on this game, and the way in which that can be dangerous for a team.

"Had we lost the game, it's not the end of the world, but if you coach emotionally like that and put all of your eggs in basket and then lose, what do you say to your team then? You can't say it's the Super Bowl That's why it was game two to me.

"Remember in 2007 when we get beat at USF but we come back with a chance to play for the national championship? Who would have thought we'd have a chance to get back in the top ten, let alone in the top two?"

Stewart continued to muse on the instant criticism that follows any setback or poor span of play.

"People writing people off, I don't know. I guess in this Internet world it helps sell, and I know you guys don't like this, but I don't know how to say it any plainer than this – it's the sensationalism. But we have a long haul to go. We have ten more games, and hopefully we play well enough so we have 11."

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While Stewart was ready to move on, he dispelled any notion that he was happy with West Virginia's play overall.

"I am not satisfied with the way we played," he stated emphatically. "I am a perfectionist. "I want to win every game and I coach hard to do that. Because I don't run around like a crazy man I don't think that shows. But I was very frustrated that we didn't play well."

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Moving on to this week, Stewart sees an improved Maryland team from the squad that won just two games a year ago.

"Maryland is tough. They have speed. They just had a bad year last year. But I think this will be a heck of a football game. They came out of blocks against Navy and it was touchdown, touchdown before they even blinked. They have my total attention. I don't think our players should have any trouble getting up for them. They are a good football team.

"With them running the ball with their two backs they will be very difficult to defend. Defensively they will blitz us and sic us. We need to hit a couple of big plays and get them off balance."

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WVU will have a full day of work today watching film, lifting and practicing. The team will take Monday off before returning to regular game week preparations on Tuesday.

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Stewart said WVU came out of the Marshall game "pretty healthy".

"Robert Sands is good, I just saw him in for treatment. Pat Lazear is getting better, but I can't say well yet. I am happy with what I am hearing on Tyler Urban. I'm not too alarmed right now about the injury list."

Stewart did not mention Will Clarke, who left the game with what appeared to be an ankle injury that kept him out of late game action. Bradley Starks also injured his shoulder on a deep pass attempt in the first quarter and did not return to the game. He was out of uniform for the second half and had ice on his shoulder.

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