"I was proud of the Mountaineer football team, they showed character, heart and a lot of fight to comeback the way they did late in the game," head coach Bill Stewart said of his team. "I was also proud of the Mountaineer fans who never left us and kept supporting us," Stewart said.
That number wasn't a large one, however, as the majority of fans in attendance left before West Virginia's comeback. The Mountaineers fell to 3-1 in the Big East and 6-3 overall following the loss, which was keyed by several events. The opening kickoff that was returned for a touchdown was certainly a key factor in the game, but Stewart thought it was another unit that played the biggest role.
"They attacked our offensive line and tackled really well in the secondary and it was their defense that won the game for them," Stewart said.
Some players after the game even said that it seemed as though the defense of Cincinnati knew the play the Mountaineers were going to run before they ever snapped the ball. Wide receiver Dorrell Jalloh, among others, heard Cincinnati defenders calling out routes when he came to the line, and reports have also surfaced of the Bearcat sidelines signaling in the direction of WVU running plays. Without solid evidence of those observations, however, Stewart had to fall back on the performance on the field as the major issue.
"They slanted and moved around a lot and did a lot of things to confuse us on offense but what it comes down to is that we need to block them," Stewart said. "You have you credit Brian Kelly and the Cincinnati Bearcats, coach Kelly is a great coach and great person and they played tough on defense on all night."
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One of the key losses on offense this season was that of fullback Owen Schmitt. His absence has been felt on short yardage plays, both as a lead blocker and as an occasional ball carrier.
"We haven't changed our philosophies on offense but not having Owen back there certainly changes what we're able to do," Stewart said. Stewart went on to say that freshman Ricky Kovatch is going to be a good player at fullback but he is still young and learning how to play at the college level. Freshman Ryan Clarke's injuries and physical conditioning have combined to keep him out of the mix as well. Stewart also said that an injury that forced Will Johnson to sit out the game made it difficult to run the ball effectively. The Mountaineers were held under 100 yards rushing as a team, a rare occurrence for a team that generally boasts one of the best rushing attacks in the country.
"Will has a deep thigh bruise and he was just unable to go. He played against Connecticut but was dragging that leg around so we kept him out on Saturday," Stewart said.
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Stewart also commented on the other injuries on the Mountaineers have sustained.
"Jarrett Brown is a lot better and is closer to being full strength, Josh Jenkins and Will Johnson should be both be at full strength and ready to go in time for Louisville, and Mike Dent is week to week."
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The Mountaineers are off this weekend, and will certainly be scoreboard watching as Cincinnati plays at Louisville on Friday. WVU needs a UC loss to have a chance at the Big East's BCS bowl berth, but that's a long way off at this point. On November 22 they will travel to Louisville, and then take on rival Pittsburgh on the road the following Friday. The Mountaineers will then finish their schedule at home against South Florida on December 2.