Stew's Views: Day 11

After Wednesday's scrimmage, West Virginia head football coach Bill Stewart took time to break down positions and players with the media. Although he has seen some things he likes, Stewart admits that there is a long way to go and that all positions are still wide open.

While such statements might appear to be coachspeak, there have been some moves during camp that speak of such competition. A couple of those were on display during last Saturday's scrimmage, and more came to the fore in Wednesday's lengthy outing.

"We had a real banger out there, another hot one which was good," said Stewart. "There were probably 110 plays so I was proud of that. We had about 50 plays with the ones, about 40 with the twos, and about 20 with the young guys. We hit short yardage hard. I thought we did a really nice job in the two-minute drill on both sides of the ball. We've come a long way but we sure have a long way to go. We really do. We have a football competes and a football team that is trying to play as hard and as tough as they can."

Just as they have for the majority of fall camp, the defense dominated the scrimmage, exceeding its goal of three turnovers. During the first hour alone, interceptions by Kent Richardson and Guesly Dervil were made. Those were joined by Brandon Hogan's fumble recovery.

"They're doing well," said Stewart. "Our defense is attacking and they're playing physical."

For the first time, redshirt freshman Joey Madsen stepped in as the starting center replacing Eric Jobe. Despite the change, Stewart says that the position is still open to the two players as well as other members of the offensive line.

"Joey Madsen got to go with the first group today," said Stewart. "We will know tonight when we look at the film how he played. That's not to say anything bad about Eric Jobe. We're interchanging other positions as well. Jobe can play guard and that's been discussed. The inside three [on the offensive line] need to be able to be able to roll from left, right guard and center.

"He (Madsen) is a tough guy, and I like tough guys," Stewart continued. "He is an effort guy, and he is straining pretty well. As long as you strain, play hard and know your assignments, you are going to play football at West Virginia. I think Josh Jenkins could play center, but we need him at left guard. He is talented enough too. Big Jeff Braun is talented enough to play center as well. They are young, and they making mistake, but they are giving great effort. I think those three are pretty interchangeable."

Stewart addressed the report that defensive end Tevita Finau would finally be in Morgantown as early as this Friday.

"I hear things like you all do," said Stewart. "At this point, Tevita Finau is not here. I, like everyone else, would hope that he will be here. When and if he does get here, you will see me with a big smile."

On the injury front, redshirt freshman Ryan Clarke sat out of Wednesday's practice due to an ankle injury. However, Stewart expected to have the fullback back by Monday. Clarke's absence has given freshman Shawne Alston some extra reps in Clarke's place. "I hope he shows you all Saturday what he showed us in the scrimmage," said Stewart. "He ran hard. I'm very pleased with him. For a freshman, he's doing real, real well."

Eain Smith has a deep bruise in his quadricep, but was reportedly "okay" according to Stewart. Bradley Starks missed a bit of time with a tight groin after yielding to second and third teamers in the scrimmage work. Keith Tandy returned to action after sustaining a bruised quadricep on Saturday.

Stewart has also been pleased with the effort put forth by freshman quarterback Eugene Smith.

"I see a young man with great pocket presence," Stewart said of the freshman. "I see a guy that has a lot of innate ability to hang in there. He probably holds the ball too long now because he hasn't been hit. I see a kid that's really coming on. He's doing a nice job."

Despite Smith seeing significantly more time than redshirt freshman Coley White, Stewart insists that the two are still battling to lock up the backup quarterback position.

"We gave Coley all of the reps in the spring," said Stewart. "This week, earlier in camp, we were told that [Smith] would get that same look and then we will go from there. I like what I see. I like his pocket presence. After Saturday, we will see about that second spot."

RIFLE REPORTS

The kicking battle continued apace, with both Tyler Bitancurt and Josh Lider getting chances. Bitancurt made all of his placekicks in scrimmage action, and could possbily have pulled ahead, although Stewart termed the competition "a tremendous battle". Stewart also did not eliminate the possibility of using both.

"I will do whatever it takes to win the game. We have talked about that. One might be the field goal guy and then the other may be the kickoff guy."

* * *

Scott Kozlowski's booming kicks would seem to have put him ahead in the punting department, but Lider's placement might have a role for him as well.

"Josh Lider does a great job on pooch punting," Stewart explained. "Scott Kozlowski may be our punter, but Lider may be our pooch punter. Some guys can pooch punt and some guys can't. We are working hard on that. The kicking game is getting better, but we are going to keep working on it."

* * *

Veterans Jock Sanders, Nate Sowers and Brandon Hogan have the edge as kickoff return men, with true freshman Tavon Austin edging his way into the mix.


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