Hogan May Return

In a Sunday afternoon conference call, Bill Stewart did not rule out the possibility of suspended cornerback Brandon Hogan returning to action with the WVU football team as soon as this weekend, when the No. 22 Mountaineers travel to take on No. 15 LSU in Baton Rouge.

Stewart, who emphasized that Hogan's "status has not changed," said he had no time table for any determination about when the senior might return.

Hogan was arrested and charged with DUI in the early morning hours last Sunday and Stewart announced Tuesday that the Manassas, Va., native was indefinitely suspended from the West Virginia program.

"I will determine if that changes this week, or the next, or the next," Stewart said. "I just don't know the time table on that. I'm going to see how he continues to work.

"He's been very responsible lately, and if he doesn't [continue to do so], he won't be with us. But as soon as I think he's ready to play – even if it's this week, and it could be – he'll be out there."

Stewart debunked the report of ESPN's television commentators from Saturday's win 31-17 win over Maryland, who said during the broadcast that the Mountaineers' seniors would determine when Hogan could return to action.

The third-year head coach said he was unaware such speculation was even in the public domain before Charleston Gazette reporter Dave Hickman asked him about it on the conference call.

"I give our seniors a lot of input, and they're doing a lot of internal work for a comrade ... but I'll make that decision," Stewart emphasized.

REVIEWING MARYLAND:

West Virginia (3-0) was impressive early and took some lumps late in Saturday's victory over the Terrapins. That was Stewart's opinion in the immediate aftermath of the contest, and it didn't change much after watching film of the game Sunday morning.

"I was pleased with some performances, as was our entire staff," Stewart said. "There were some things that we didn't think we did as well as we could have or should have. But we controlled the clock, for the most part, and we had balance. I liked the fact that we had close to 500 yards offense, and we had a lot of plays. That kept our defense off the field."

"It was a physical game. I asked our guys to be physically 'up in their grill,' so to speak. I wanted our guys to play hard and play with passion, and I felt we did."

While it was the team's electrifying start on offense that drew most of the raves from fans, Stewart was particularly pleased with the clock-killing drive his team went on in the fourth quarter, just after Maryland had drawn within 28-17.

That possession featured eight consecutive carries by fullback Ryan Clarke, and the Mountaineers' power rushing attack battered a worn-down Terrapins defense.

The 16-play journey covered 76 yards, took almost nine minutes off the clock and ended with a 23-yard Tyler Bitancurt field goal to make the score 31-17. Most importantly, by the time Maryland got the ball back, it had no time to mount a serious comeback.

"When we got in that I-formation and started banging them, they weren't ready for it, and we went up and down the field," Stewart said. "We just wanted to send a message and play Mountaineer football. We got three points and ate up almost nine minutes off the clock. That, to me, is pretty good football."

While sophomore cornerback Pat Miller was quite publicly victimized by Terps wide receiver Torrey Smith on touchdowns of 60 and 80 yards in the third quarter, Stewart said review of the film led defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel to place plenty of the blame on Miller's teammates.

The first bomb over Miller was partially pinned on the defensive line and linebackers for failing to get home on a blitz. Miller shared blame on the second with the team's safeties, who Stewart said should have been in position to help.

"You can't hang that guy out there with such a good receiver," said the Mountaineers' head man. "Torrey Smith is one of the prettiest guys I've seen in a uniform. He can play. I want to be able to blitz and play man coverage, but you can't let that guy run seven, eight, nine seconds and not get to the quarterback.

"The second one, I think the safeties needed to help. We're going to work on that, but I'm not going to place all the blame on Patrick Miller. That's for sure."

LOOKING AHEAD:

Stewart re-emphasized his pleasure with the way WVU fans impacted the early stages of the Maryland game, as crowd noise made life quite difficult for the Terrapins in the early stages.

The head coach knows his team will have no such comforts this week -- and, indeed, will likely be subjected to something even more wild than what Maryland had to deal with at Mountaineer Field -- when 92,400 fans pack Tiger Stadium at LSU to watch their team take on West Virginia on Saturday night.

"It's going to be fun, and it's going to be challenging," Stewart said. "You just have to go in there and play your game. The field is still 100 yards long, with 10-yard end zones, and 52 yards wide. I'm just going to tell the guys to stay the course. We're going to rally around each other.

"We know it will be loud. We know it will be hostile. But that's OK. We had that same situation at Auburn, and we handled it well for about three quarters before we fell apart in the fourth quarter. We've been in some tough situations. We just have to finish."


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