Dividing Line

For West Virginia's football team, Sunday is the day to review the previous game, correct mistakes, and work on fundamental cleanup of the errors that occurred. On Monday, the attention moves to the next week's opponent.

The players, after working on the field on Sunday, get Monday off in order to provide the mandatory physical break, but also to get a psychological break between the last encounter and the upcoming foe. However, the coaches are hard at work studying, reviewing tape, and formulating a game plan. This week head coach Bill Stewart sees a lot to be worried about when his team takes on Rutgers to open their Big East schedule.

Stewart realizes that Rutgers' record may not reflect the talent on the team this year, and that starts at the quarterback position, whereas fifth-year senior handles the controls.

"I have always been a big Mike Teel fan. I think he just a great player and they have two good receivers. Their line is big, and they present a lot of problems for our team," Stewart observed.

According to Stewart, some of the early problems for Rutgers this year are similar to those encountered by the Mountaineers early on. Whereas Steve Slaton was an integral part of the Mountaineer offense last season, it was Ray Rice for Rutgers. Both players are now gone to the NFL, and finding equivalent replacements for them isn't an easy task. As Stewart put it, "How do you replace Ray Rice?"

Despite that loss, Rutgers returns two excellent receivers in Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood as well as Teel at quarterback.

"This offense can be explosive when they are playing well and they are going to be a challenge for our defense," Stewart said.

On the other side of the ball Stewart was impressed with their linebackers and overall team toughness.

"Their linebackers have always played us tough and their secondary is athletic. They are a solid team on both sides of the ball," he noted. Stewart also is worried about the return game of Rutgers and had high praise for Tiquan Underwood. "Underwood just scares me as a return man. He is one of the best in the country and we are going to have to control him to win."

Last season West Virginia marched into New Jersey and beat Rutgers 31-3, but Stewart knows not to expect a blowout based on that result.

"Last year we got some big plays from Steve Slaton and Pat White and if it weren't for those big plays the game could have been a lot closer," he recalled.

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Some items from the Marshall game also drew Stewart's attention. He reflected on were the play of his defense and the improvement on third down conversions on offense.

"Our defense really stepped up and played well, and what I liked the most was that we contained the big plays," Stewart said.

WVU's offense also saw notable changes. It threw the ball more on first down to set up more manageable third downs and used some play action as well misdirection to convert more third downs and control the ball on offense. The use of Jarrett Brown as a runner, receiver and passer was a major component in some of those modifications.

"He is a big guy and he is large and powerful," Stewart said, adding that Mountaineer fans should expect to see more of Brown in all of those roles in the coming weeks.

Brown played the majority of the second half when White left the game with a thumb injury. Stewart said that White's injury is nothing more than a bruise and that he should not miss any time.

"He practiced on Sunday and threw passes and he could have played on Saturday but we thought it was best to keep him out," Stewart reported.


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