My feelings don't change any," Stewart said one day after the game. "We fought hard and we came up short. I was frustrated we got in that situation by not playing well early. We need to make hay earlier in the first half. We had 80 plays to their 63, so that was good. But again, I was disappointed in third down conversions. It was very frustrating."
Unfortunately, for Stewart and his staff, there's no magic potion to fix many of the problems that have plagued them at several points during the season, including third down and short conversions and kickoff coverage.
"Cincinnati was probably the best defense we played. They played with great leverage. They came after us. But the third downs: we thought we had it solved. We got better after Syracuse. We were 8-16 and 8-13 in two games and were on top of league. Then we both stunk it up last night. You can't drop the ball, and you have to block them. Have to keep working harder at it.
"We made some changes on the kickoff, and four kids had their hands on him and did not make the tackle. That's bullcrap. Two fell off of him and two dove at him and missed. One guy went the wrong way, and that was it. I am making more changes in personnel. We are going to put some more people
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On the injury front, Stewart termed the situation "banged up a little bit, but nothing very serious. Mike Dent practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, and then his neck tensed up and he had some swelling. The doctors wanted to hold him out. It's in the hands of medical staff and they will keep checking it daily. I don't know when he will be back.
Wes Lyons tweaked his ankle, and we don't know how bad that is. We will know more tomorrow. Patrick White got dinged up, but he got back in the game. He is such a competitor. At the end of the third quarter he got the wind knocked out of him, and he wanted to get up, but I wanted him to lie there and let him rest. I thought we were going to have to fight to keep him down He doesn't baby himself. He is going to try to get all the yards he can.
WVU also has two players, Jarrett Brown and Will Johnson, with thigh bruises that have kept them out. Brown's injury has kept him from participating in the third down packages designed for him earlier this year, while it is hoped Johnson will be able to return to practice this week.
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Lyons injury opened a path for Bradley Starks, who has battled a shoulder injury but is now at least well enough to play.
"Bradley played pretty good," Stewart said. "I saw him blocking, and that has been holding him back a little bit. He is a great athlete, but he wasn't really physical. He made a couple of nice catches, and I was glad to see that. He has had it tough. He dropped the pass in the Villanova game and then he had the fumble and the bad pass at Colorado, and people thought we had written him off, but that wasn't it. His shoulder has been dinged up, but he's healthier now and has been cleared to play."
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Stewart also admitted the lack of offensive consistency has been – that word again – frustrating "It's frustrating as a coach. I thought UConn had a good defense, and we did well against them. But Cincinnati, I tried to warn that their defense was good. We got 300 yards, but against Cincinnati that isn't enough to win a game. I thought Patrick made some nice throws, but he missed a couple of reads. Had some nice catches, but we dropped a couple. We just have to be more consistent. Their defense was moving around, and the offensive line took a while to figure it out. I am frustrated, but I can't get in panic mode."