Stew's Views: Week 1 Sunday Teleconference

A day after his team opened up the season with a 33-20 victory over Liberty, WVU's head coach took part in his weekly conference call with the media to share his thoughts on several aspects of the game and where the team stands heading into week two.

The following is a transcription of that teleconference.


    West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart: "Today's going to be a work day for the Mountaineers. We've looked at the film and talked as a staff and come up with our award winners. We've dissected the game and we'll continue to dissect the game early in the week as we prepare for the East Carolina Pirates."

    "I'm more concerned with what we do and not so much what the other people do. I wasn't pleased with some things that we do. As I indicated yesterday afternoon, I thought we had too many mental breakdowns. For instance, on offense, there were a couple of missed assignments and looking at some signals, that goofed them up. People can steal our signals. I know you all don't believe that, but it does happen out there."

    "Defensively, it's puzzling to me. Everyone in the stands knew that 10 (Liberty's Mike Brown) was going to get the ball. Well, some of our players didn't know that. So we had a couple of key busts there."

    "Someone has indicated with me that the conference office called and indicated that the first touchdown was a pick, as I tried to tell them it was a pick. That didn't work good. I just had to tell them to keep playing, but it was an offensive pass interference. I don't want to complain about that. You have to play the game, but it sure would have been tough if that had been a deciding touchdown against you. That would have been hard to swallow the next day if you had to hear the official made a mistake."

    "I'm more worried about the Mountaineers than I am about the opponent. That's where we are. We have to correct some things."

  • QUESTION: Seemed like a lot of good plays and bad plays on both sides of the ball. Is that accurate or not?

    Stewart: "I was looking through the same rose-colored glasses as you, and you saw what I saw. What you're saying is very accurate. We had some very good plays, some outstanding plays by some players. But No. 10 (Brown), at the goal line, take away his inside. Don't let him cross the middle. Geez, oh man, that's junior high football. That frustrates me."

    "Offensively, not seeing the signal is the easiest cop-out in the world. When I coached defensive guys, they'd say, ‘I'm getting held.' I'd say, ‘Good. It won't be a problem. You're too slow, so go sit on the bench and I'll play somebody quicker.' That stopped that answer real quick. On offense, it's, ‘I didn't get the call.' Well, good, if you can't get the call, you can't see. So come on and sit down with me. That ended that."

    "I don't buy that stuff. Just get it. That happened on some of those not-so-good plays, but we didn't have many."

  • QUESTION: What was the deal with the Sidney Glover situation? (He did not dress for the game or play)

    Stewart: "He did not play. And that was my call."

  • QUESTION: Was it an injury? A disciplinary thing?

    Stewart: "Well, he didn't practice well enough or long enough to be on the travel team. I'm going to play those guys that go out and sweat. They've got to give effort in practice, because it's guys that we know what they can do that will play."

    "If Sidney continues to practice like he has, then he'll play this week. But up until this week -- you can't just practice Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and say, ‘Okay, I'm ready to play.' Maybe that's the way it is some places or it's been here before, but I'm not doing that. You work like everybody else, and you'll get to dress and play like everybody else."

    "It's not a big deal. It's over and it's done. I told him before we went out on the field, ‘We need you next week.' We'll see how he practices. If he doesn't practice, he won't play."

  • QUESTION: You seem a little frustrated with Sidney. Is it because he's hurt or do you feel like he could have practiced when he didn't?

    Stewart: No, no, no. You're reading into it. I don't want to talk about guys that don't play in the games. If you do not practice, you can't play. He was hurt. He's had some injuries, but he hasn't practiced."

    "I wish we weren't talking about Sidney. Sidney had nothing to do with that game. And if he doesn't practice this week, he won't have anything to do with the next game. If he doesn't practice the next week, he won't have anything to do with that game."

    "It's not a Sidney issue. I'm just trying to explain this as calmly as I can -- whoever doesn't practice will not play. Patrick White, when he couldn't practice, he didn't play -- like against Syracuse (last season). If you don't practice, you don't play."

    "He's fine. If he continues to work and get better, we will play him. It's not an anti-Sidney thing. That's my rule. If you do not practice, you will not play. We're making this way too big and trying to find a story when there's no story at all. The story is this -- practice, you play. Don't practice, you sit. It's really simple."

  • QUESTION: Did your team play well enough yesterday to beat East Carolina?

    Stewart: "We played well enough to beat Liberty."

  • QUESTION: Are you happy that your quarterback played well and you got that storyline out of the way -- he played well, and that's done?

    Stewart: "I'm very pleased we got the first one under our belts. There were jitters, there were guys making mistakes. It just happens. Why do some young men outplay other young men? Well, maybe they didn't take their opponent seriously enough, or maybe the ball didn't bounce their way. You have to get the first game out of the way."

    "They say most football teams improve most between games one, two and even game three. Look at us last year. We played okay in game one, not great. We really got knocked out in game two. Then we got a little better in game three, and once game four came along we started clicking pretty good. Then we lost an overtime game and another game to two bowl teams and went out and beat a pretty good North Carolina team." "We got better. That's all I want us to do is get better."

  • QUESTION: What did you see after watching film of your kickoffs and what changes did you make when you talked about that after the game?

    Stewart: "I put Ryan Clarke in there and I thought he did a nice job. He went down there and whacked a couple of guys. I put Shawne Alston in there, the running back, and he went down there and did a nice job. He got into the frey. Ol' Jordan Roberts went in there and created some havoc. I put him at the four position just to interchange them."

    "Then Nate (Sowers) got hit in the knee, but he's fine -- but I put Eddie Davis in there at the No. 10 spot and thought he did a nice job. Three went out for the last three and Eddie Davis went out for the last one. We just changed some guys up and tried to get some more athleticism in there, and it worked out okay."

    "But the hang time got better also. That's what happened to us last year with Pat McAfee, that ball was hit like a laser and we couldn't get down there fast enough. So we got that ball to hang up there a bit more and that will make a big effect on it as well. I'm going to change some more this week. I'm going to look at them in practice. We're going to do that full speed, live on Tuesday."

  • QUESTION: What did they do strategy wise to slow down the run game?

    Stewart: "They tried to two-gap us and let the linebackers run. It worked okay, but we still rushed for 195 yards. When you do that, we throw the ball. When they blitzed us, we ran the ball and threw a couple of nice passes."

    "I'm so pleased with how Jarrett was on top of his game. I thought our offensive coaches did a great job with that. When they blitzed us, we'd do this. When they'd get in that bend-but-not-break mode, we'd do that."

    "When someone two-gaps you, it's harder for little Noel (Devine) to see the reads. That's why he kept cutting back. The touchdown (run for Devine), they were coming after us and (after the defense lined up) I said, ‘Touchdown. If they stay like that, touchdown.' They did, and he walked in and didn't get touched. It's a cat-and-mouse chess game."

  • QUESTION: Logan Heastie didn't play yesterday. Was that a result of the bad finger he had before or what?

    Stewart: "We couldn't pull away. I wanted to play Geno (Smith). J.D. Woods should have played. Logan -- we talked about that as a staff. We just couldn't pull away. If we had gotten another score and stopped them, a whole lot of guys would have played."

    "At the end, on the defense there were a bunch of young guys playing, and that was good. I just wish we could have done that on offense. That's so frustrating. I blame myself and I blame the offensive coaches, but it was just too close to the vest. We couldn't do it."

    "And had it stayed 33-13 or even 33-10 with a quarter to go, they would have played the whole thing. I wanted them to play the whole fourth quarter. But I couldn't tell people that before the game because our players would have gotten in that mindset. It didn't work out and it frustrates me. But Logan's fine and J.D. Woods will be good. I wish we could have played Will Johnson more. I wish Mark Rodgers would have gotten some more time as the running back. They deserve to play, darn it. It's a shame we couldn't put the game away."

  • QUESTION: You bring up the East Carolina game an awful lot when you talk about the way the team developed last year. What happened and how did you use it to your advantage?

    Stewart: "We went down there and I believe with every fiber of my body we thought we just had to go out there and wear the Old Gold and Blue (to win). There was a hurricane. It was there for them also, but they were at home. That wasn't it though. It was just like we had Patrick (White), we had this. We had a big passing attack against Villanova and we're just going to line up and go play. No. 5 would save the day."

    "It didn't work out that way. Our defense just couldn't get off the field. J.T. Thomas said it best after the game: ‘They whacked us. They flat out-toughed us.' I don't have to tell our players anything this week. Our players had better know what happened to them last year."

    "If I bring that up, I only bring it up to say this -- we got our toes stubbed very abruptly. When we found out you have to go out there and play and block and tackle, and that No. 5 wasn't always going to be able to save the day, we found out we had to go play. We got better at Colorado and then we started on a roll. That game woke us up. It really did. It was a terrible, terrible weekend because they whipped us mentally, physically and anything else you want to say. They whipped us last year convincingly."

  • QUESTION: Was it nice to see a placekicker have a good day and to know that you might have that figured out?

    Stewart: "Well he had a nice day. One of his kicks was tipped. It was a little low, the last one. But he showed a strong leg. It was against my better judgement to let him kick that 45-yarder, but he did it."

    "I had a plan yesterday, and I told the team Friday in the walkthrough -- we put them on the sidelines for substitutions and we had a bullhorn, and I took that bullhorn and said, ‘From the 35 to the 25, we're in four-down territory. We will not kick a field goal. Once we hit the 25, then we'll think about a field goal.' I didn't want to put a lot of stress on that youngster, but he did a nice job, I thought. I thought the young man did a nice job. That was very, very nice to see."

    "But that probably will still be the plan this week. From the 35 to the 25, going in, I want to consider that four-down territory. I don't want to give them the ball, to that offense, farther ahead than the 35-yard line. If we get down to the 25 and miss a field goal or don't get the first down, we can live with that. Then they'll have to drive 75 yards against our defense."

    "Scott Kozlowski just missed that pooch kick too. We tried to do that coffin-corner kick, the first one. He just missed that. We punted from their 41-yard line. I did that thinking we could pin them inside the five. He just missed it. But it worked the second time. That's why first games are first games."

  • QUESTION: Are there any updates on Nate Sowers and Wes Lyons' injuries?

    Stewart: "We were very pleased with how we came out of the game injury-wise. We have three guys, Nate's one of them, a little nicked up. He's going to be fine. Wes is going to be fine."

    "Wes Lyons could have played. I pulled Wes Lyons, and I'll tell you why. Stretching for that ball, he just pulled (his hamstring) a little bit. It wasn't severe. It didn't pop, it didn't get all bloody or black-and-blue. I was just afraid (of further injury). It's the first game, and I don't mean any disrespect to Liberty, but I thought we could beat them without Wes. I felt like we had enough in the arsenal to beat them without Wes, and I wanted to save him for this week and the next week and so on. That's why."

    "But Wes is going to be okay. He'll play this week. Nate will be okay. He'll play this week. The third guy...I can't think of that. That's how minimal it is. No one will be out. We won't miss a beat."

  • QUESTION: The offensive line -- how pleased were you with the fact that they went out and did what you expected and maybe more yesterday?

    Stewart: "It was a very pleasant surprise. We have a little more opportunity, more chances for them to get better. But they played very, very hard. There was a holding, but that was all."

    "They gelled. It looked like they picked up the blitz pretty good for the most part. Jarrett wasn't running for his life too bad like we have seen from quarterbacks in our past sometimes. But the line, I thought, was solid, particularly for the first outing."

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