Stew Review: Colorado

The West Virginia Mountaineers are 1-2 after their first three games of the season and will be unranked when the new polls are released today. This is uncharted territory for a Mountaineer unit that has experienced a lot of success in recent years and the recent troubles have left the coaching staff searching for answers.

Despite the loss to Colorado head coach Bill Stewart was able to take away a lot of positives in the game.

"I was pleased with how the defense played and I really was happy with how hard we played," Stewart said. The defense surrendered 14 points early with the second touchdown coming off a Bradley Starks fumble in West Virginia territory. From that point forward, the defense shut down the Colorado offense and forced two turnovers.

"The defense played well, they were flying around and hitting people, they played like warriors out there," Stewart said.

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In Reed Williams' return from off season shoulder surgery, the senior played 52 of a possible 78 defensive snaps, and had a crucial interception. The defense was also able to force a key fumble with Colorado knocking on the doorstep. It was far cry from the East Carolina game when the Pirate was able to move the ball with relative ease.

On the second play of the game linebacker J.T. Thomas went down with an injury. He later returned to the sidelines and appeared to be okay but was left out of the game for precautionary measures. He did not suffer a concussion, according to Stewart.

"He kept tugging on my shirt to get back in the game, he wanted to go back in, we had to hide his helmet from him," Stewart said. Thomas is healthy and is expected to practice this week and be back in the lineup on Saturday against Marshall. So far this year, WVU has had its projected starting linebacking corps of Thomas, Williams and Mortty Ivy on the field for exactly two plays.

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Stewart was also impressed with how well the special teams were able to contain dangerous Colorado return man Josh Smith. Smith was averaging 50 yards per kickoff return including a 96-yard return for a touchdown the previous week again Eastern Washington, Against West Virginia he was held to about half that, averaging roughly 25 yards per return.

"I just can't say enough about how well our special teams coverage was, I thought they played awesome," Stewart said. "The punt coverage was excellent too.

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The offense had its positives and its negatives. The Mountaineers rushed for 311 yards in the game and looked like the WVU offense fans have come to know and love the past couple seasons. However, the offense lacked consistency and balance and much like those Mountaineer offenses of the previous couple seasons, they were unable to generate much offense vertically in the passing game.

"We need to get better on third down and especially on third and short, this is the one area that we really need to improve on right now," Stewart said. The Mountaineers were 3-11 on third down and were stuffed on a quarterback sneak on fourth down and inches.

"I thought we ran the ball well outside of third down, it's hard to complain when your team rushes for over 300 yards," Stewart said. Stewart went on to say that it was his idea to keep running the football with Pat and Noel. "I wanted to make the game a ball control game."

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While Stewart was obviously disappointed his team lost he was pleased with how hard the team competed.

"Our goal right now is to get better come game four against Marshall."

West Virginia is lifting and practicing on Sunday, and concentrating on cleaning up errors from the Colorado game before turning full attention to Marshall on Monday.

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