No Time To Rest

A short week to prepare for a Thursday night Big East Conference opener against South Florida also means less time for WVU football players to recover from their bumps and bruises from Saturday's 49-10 victory over UNLV. Fortunately for head coach Bill Stewart and company, there were no Mountaineers nursing significant new injury problems Sunday morning.

The lone major addition to the team's list of walking wounded was cornerback Brandon Hogan, who sat out the second half (or, to be more accurate, stood on the sidelines in street clothes, munching on Skittles and Starburst) of the win over the Rebels after sustaining an injury to one of his arms.

Stewart seemed to think the issue was relatively minor, and he said Hogan would practice with his West Virginia teammates later Sunday afternoon.

"But he's going to be in one of those Christmas colors that I just so [dislike]," Stewart said, referring to the jerseys worn by players who are limited in practice due to injury. "It's green. Thank God it isn't red [which signals a player is unable to practice]. He's allowed to get bumped. But oh, I hate seeing that out there, those red and green jerseys. He'll be in a green jersey and he'll be flying around."

As for whether the quick turnaround would effect Hogan's status for Thursday night's game against the Bulls, Stewart seemed cautiously optimistic.

"If there's a tougher guy on our football team than ol' Brandon Hogan, I've not seen him. He's as tough as tough can be," the third-year head coach said.

"If anybody can do it, Brandon Hogan can do it. Believe me, he'll be chomping at the bit to play."

After missing the last two games while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, offensive lineman Josh Jenkins is expected to be ready for action against USF.

But because Stewart felt the offensive line has played well in his absence, and because Jenkins may not be at full strength immediately, the head coach said the Parkersburg native may not play every snap Thursday night.

"How much he plays [is uncertain]," Stewart said. "He's just got to earn his spurs. You should never lose your job because of injury. That's kind of an old coach thing, but you have to earn your spurs as well. He's not just going to go in there, and, say, if we play 65 plays, he's guaranteed to play all 65 next week.

"There will be competition, and things are going pretty good right now. Eric Jobe has done a nice job over there [at Jenkins' left guard position] and Cole Bowers and Chad Snodgrass have done a good job at the right guard spot. So this really helps us with competition and keeping people fresh in the game."

DIFFERENT FACES:

Stewart's West Virginia squad, which rose back to the No. 25 spot in both the Associated Press and USA Today coaches' rankings, jumped out to a 35-0 lead by halftime of its win over UNLV and had a 42-0 advantage quickly in the third quarter.

That allowed the head coach a luxury he has rarely had in his two-and-a-half seasons in charge of the program: a chance to empty the bench and get reserves and younger players into the game to see what they could do in competitive situations.

The phrase "empty the bench" is typically an exaggeration, but Stewart nearly did that. A staggering 68 Mountaineers saw action Saturday afternoon.

"I'm thrilled about that," Stewart said. "That's what it's about, being part of the team. Because, hey, the down-the-liners deserve a chance to play as well. But when they get in there, they've got to do well. You can't just say, ‘Well, here's a chance.' So you learn from it. You grow from it. You get better from it. Then the next time they get in there, they'll be a little bit better. So it couldn't have been a better day for us."

Stewart was particularly pleased to see former walk-on fullback Matt Lindamood score his first career touchdown, taking carries with the reserves on offense. He also pointed to solid play from freshman defenders, including Travis Bell, Mike Dorsey and Doug Rigg as promising signs for the team's future.

"Any time you can get young men in -- and we got a bunch in, believe me -- it is really, really beneficial," Stewart said.

POSSIBLE DEPARTURE?:

Freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson was not with the WVU team during Saturday's victory over UNLV, and Stewart's comments Sunday afternoon didn't indicate he expected the Kountze, Texas native to return to action this time or at any point in the foreseeable future.

The head coach indicated quarterback-turned-receiver Coley White would likely head back to his former position this week to prepare as the team's third-string signal-caller.

"We've had contact [with Johnson], but the young man is just fighting homesickness," Stewart said. The head coach had previously pinned Johnson's first flirtation with leaving Morgantown, which came during preseason camp, on that same issue.

"I've said it and I don't want to make any more of it, because it's just ... he's going to have to figure it out. He's going to have to work it out. There's only so much talking I can do. We've got to press on and go get ready for our season. We hope he can get that corrected, and if not, then we'll just have to wish him nothing but the best."


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