Stewart Says...

West Virginia's always-quotable head coach has been upbeat for most of spring ball. On Friday, however, the ball coach was left shaking his head after a sub-par practice from the offense.

For the first six practices of the spring, Bill Stewart had nothing but good things to say. When asked by longtime WVU beat reporter Mickey Furfari on Friday if there was anything to be upset about, Stewart expressed disappointment in certain aspects of offensive execution.

"There was negative today," he said while wiping his brow. "The doggone white shirts (offense) did not get off press. It's good for the blue (defense), bad for the white shirts.

"We're doing a terrible, terrible job in our scrambling when our quarterback protection breaks down we look like Spanky and the gang out there," he continued. "It looks like the Little Rascals, and it is absolutely a mess. If we don't get that corrected, it's going to kill us this fall, and I am very frustrated about that."

Of course part of the poor execution has something to do with the outstanding play of WVU's defense this spring, especially at the linebacker positions. At some point, Stew says, the lack of precision by the white shirts turns into a negative for both units on the field.

"It's good for the defense, to a point, but when the offense doesn't strain when the protection breaks down, then the defense doesn't get the work," he said.

* * *

Of course one player who seldom disappoints anyone in Morgantown -- especially the head coach -- is senior quarterback Patrick White. To the surprise of no one, White is having yet another outstanding spring, and looks to be gaining more and more confidence with each practice alongside new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen.

White's playmaking ability with his feet is well-documented, and certainly was a big reason why the Daphne, Ala. native finished sixth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2007. On Friday, the lefty unleashed his powerful arm on a pair of long touchdown passes which left defenders helpless and onlookers awed.

"Patrick White is having a camp," Stewart said of his veteran signal caller. "Patrick White is doing a tremendous job. Those first two touchdowns during (skeleton drills), those were big league throws. They were big-league reads and big-league throws. That was very nice to see. It couldn't have been thrown any better."

By the time he leaves the field at next season's end, White will arguably be the most decorated dual-threat quarterback to ever play the college game. His running ability, second to none in the country at his position, will likely land him a spot as one of college football's all-time leading rushers from the quarterback spot. White is less than 1,000 yards from current record-holder Brad Smith.

His passing ability, meanwhile, has improved every season in terms of both yardage and touchdown passes.

Most important of all is his ability to win, what with only five losses under his belt as a Mountaineer.

Add it all up, and White's career at West Virginia just might be the most successful of any player to ever suit up for the Mountaineers. That fact is not lost on Stewart.

"Let me tell you what: someday down there by Sam Huff, there'd better be a No. 5 there," Stewart said, referring to Huff's retired No. 75, the only retired football jersey at WVU. "There better be a statue."

First things first.

"We'll get to that at the end of the year, though," Stewart added with a grin.

* * *

White certainly has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Might another emerge this spring and fall?

Junior receiver Wes Lyons -- all 6-foot-8 of him -- has had a very good spring thus far. On Friday, Lyons made a tough catch in traffic, even taking a fierce hit from safety Boogie Allen in the process but still holding onto the ball.

If the former Woodland Hills (Pa.) standout can continue progressing this spring, Stewart feels that Lyons can make a big impact in the fall.

"He's making strides," Stewart said. "People pick on Wes because he's so tall. You know, he's like a big colt out there. He just doesn't have full maturity or full strength yet. He's pretty good now, but he's got a chance to be really good.

"The thing with Wes is we just need to get him more confidence, more skills," Stewart continued. "It's all coming, it's all ahead of him. Wes Lyons will be a big factor, I think, in this offense this year."


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