Panic Mode? Not For Stewart, Mountaineers

Mountaineer fans, players and certainly head coach Bill Stewart didn't envision this. The West Virginia football team is 1-2 after the first three games of the season ,and thus far the team hasn't looked to be the same Mountaineer squad that has won three consecutive bowl games.

For many fans, panic is starting to set in, but not for head coach Bill Stewart, who remains calm despite the tough start to his tenure at WVU.

"We're certainly not in panic mode; there is still a long season ahead of us and a lot of football left to be played," Stewart said on Monday. This Saturday Stewart and the Mountaineers will look to right the ship against in state rival Marshall, whicho enters the game 3-1. Today Stewart and his coaching staff will spend roughly 15 hours reviewing film of Marshall and preparing for the game on Saturday.

"Marshall is playing very well right now and they are really kicking on all cylinders. They present a lot of problems for our team," Stewart said. Stewart added that his coaching staff arrived early this morning and will spend all day studying game film while the players have the day off.

"They have dangerous return men, they play fast, and they probably have one of the best tight ends in the country," Stewart said of the Herd, and what he has seen so far during film reveiw. He also pointed to the play of their quarterbacks and their secondary as keys to Marshall's good start.

"I want to compliment head coach Mark Snyder, he is a class guy and is doing a great job at Marshall and I wish him all the best, just not this Saturday," Stewart said jokingly.

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Stewart spoke briefly about the loss to Colorado and pointed to some areas of emphasis for his team entering the Marshall game.

"We need to get better on short yardage plays and one thing we may try is more play action," Stewart said. Stewart didn't believe that the size of running backs Jock Sanders and Noel Devine had anything to do with the team's inability to convert in short yardage situations against Colorado.

"Some people will say they are too small but I don't believe that. We just to need to hold our blocks better on those short yardage plays," Stewart said.

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True to his nature, Stewart did no dwell on the negatives of the loss to the Buffs. Instead, he pointed out the positives of the game.

"I like the way our team competed and I thought our defense really played well and so did our special teams," he noted.

* * *

When asked about the in state rivalry, Stewart welcomed playing Marshall -- a view not commonly held by many WVU fans.

"I think playing Marshall is great for the state and great for college football," Stewart said. "Playing Marshall is a soft spot because I want them to do well, I like coach Mark Snyder a lot and respect what he has done at Marshall. The problem is they are our opponent and come Saturday we're going to go out and try to win."

Despite the tough start to the season there were no signs of worry or panic in Stewart's voice.

"The most important game on our schedule right now is Marshall because it's the next one on our schedule," Stewart said.

While there is still a lot of football left to be played for the Mountaineers this season the team won't get back to its winning ways by looking ahead. The only way to get back on track is to simply focus on the next game.


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