Stew's Views: Week 2 Sunday Teleconference

There were hints of good news on the injury front for the Mountaineers from their head coach on his weekly post-game conference call Sunday afternoon.

"We're better this morning than what I had anticipated, so I'm happy," said Bill Stewart, the second-year WVU head coach. "We'll have some guys that will be day-to-day, but it's not as bad as we (originally) thought."

"I'm more on the sunny-side than I was last night (about the injuries)."

The most significant issues involve two of West Virginia's defensive stalwarts. Defensive lineman Scooter Berry had an issue with his shoulder, and linebacker Reed Williams was hampered by a foot problem.

Stewart said he would know more about both cases in the next couple of days and could provide a more full update on the two players by Tuesday.

  • EVALUATING THE ECU GAME:

    After taking Sunday morning to go over Saturday's game film with his coaching staff, Stewart shared more of his thoughts about the Mountaineers' performance in their 35-20 victory over East Carolina.

    "I thought we played with confidence and showed great leadership," he said. "When things weren't going our way with penalties and dropped balls, the team didn't panic, stayed the course and kept believing the plan. That was good to see and is what we've been known for."

    A few new wrinkles were shown by the West Virginia offense in the victory. Notably, the unit took one snap with Bradley Starks lined up at quarterback and Jarrett Brown at receiver in a "wildcat" formation.

    They also ran a play with Noel Devine lined up behind Brown (a la the classic I-formation), despite the fact that the quarterback was already in the shotgun -- a formation known as the "pistol."

    "We put (the pistol) in because it looked like East Carolina had the book on us," Stewart said. "It seemed like that in certain sets, they would do certain things. We tried to break that tendency and spread them out and put No. 7 (Noel Devine) right behind Jarrett (Brown). I looked at that from the defensive side, and I liked it. It will stay in (the playbook)."

    "It wasn't the all-tell answer. Nothing is. We're a moldable offense now, and that's just another tool. I want to keep it."

    While the Pirates may not be a "name" program like this week's opponent, Auburn, Stewart said that his team claimed a quality win in its second game of the season by defeating the Conference USA school

    "We beat a very good non-conference opponent that has great players," he said. "They are the third-oldest team in the nation (third-most years of experience on their team)."

  • LOOKING AHEAD TO AUBURN:

    The Mountaineers will be hitting the road this week and traveling into a hostile environment for the first time this season -- and will do so in a big way.

    Heading to Jordan-Hare Stadium, the home of the Tigers of the Southeastern Conference, may be a bit different than the average away game. The arena holds 87,451 fans and is the 12th largest in college football.

    "We're going in to SEC country, into a tough environment with a large crowd," Stewart said. "It's going to be a big challenge. We did some things good (against ECU), which should help us go into the environment we're about to enter. We didn't do some things well, and we need to work on that and improve."

    Auburn comes into the match-up at 2-0 after lopsided wins over Louisiana Tech (37-13) and Mississippi State (49-24).

    New head coach Gene Chizik's offense has been impressive, particularly on the ground, where running backs Ben Tate and Onterio McCalebb (a former WVU commit) have both gone over 100 yards rushing in both of the first two games of the season.

    "They are on a roll and look super," Stewart said of this week's opposition. "I haven't had a chance to devour their film at this time, but what I've seen this far, I've been impressed."

    "I think the players know that we are up against a formidable opponent. Auburn looks like they have it going good again."

    While the Tigers' coaching staff has changed in the interim, revenge may be on the minds of this week's hosts, as the Mountaineers won 34-17 over AU a season ago in Morgantown. The outcome was in doubt early, however.

    "We were down 17-0 last year, and they onside kicked us (and had the ball at midfield)," Stewart said. "Our guys stayed the course. They were resilient. They played physical, Mountaineer football, and that's what I'm going to tell them to do this year."

    "They (Auburn) will be waiting for us, just like we have waited for people that have beaten us in the past. It's going to be a fun game in a great arena. It's a prime-time, national TV game, and I know our guys are excited."


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