Stew's Views: Turnover Troubles

Given a chance to look at the film from his team's 41-30 loss at Auburn on Saturday, WVU's head coach was only more frustrated with the turnovers that beleaguered his squad in that game.

"That's something that had me beating my head on the wall all day yesterday and again this morning," said Bill Stewart, who was participating in the weekly Big East coaches' teleconference, of the turnovers.

"We can help with our play calling and putting them in situations where they know what to do. We've just got to do it over and over until it becomes a habit. The deal is when you get into certain offensive sets, they'll defend you in certain ways. You've got to be ready for anything."

The offense's struggles with giving the ball away have led to some dubious distinctions. West Virginia is tied with five other schools for 112th in the nation in turnovers lost (10). The Mountaineers are only two giveaways from being the worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision in that category (Iowa State has 12).

WVU ranks 116th in the FBS in turnover margin as a result and is last in the Big East in both statistics, which were points of relative strength a season ago.

"If that continues, we're going to have a tough year," Stewart said. "We've got to be better mentally. I'm so proud of the way they played (against Auburn) -- how physical and how tough. Man, they played their hearts out. But you've got to play from the ears up as well. You've got to think before you react."


While both Scooter Berry and Reed Williams were notably held out of the game at Auburn, Stewart seemed optimistic about the progress of both the defensive lineman and the linebacker.

"Reed Williams looked good (Sunday)," said the second-year head coach. "Scooter, in the training room, was better, as was Reed. Reed was smiling and said, ‘Coach, I'm going to be right there.' I think both of them will be fine."

Quarterback Jarrett Brown was held out at the end of Saturday night's loss, forcing true freshman Eugene Smith onto the field for his first action as a college football player. Stewart said there was little worry about Brown's status for next Thursday's game against Colorado.

"Jarrett's just sore," he said. "He got body-slammed. A guy hit him and pushed on his face mask and they roughed him up a little bit. He's a tough guy -- a big, strong guy, and he'll be ready to go come Colorado."


With a bye week before the Buffaloes come to Morgantown for a Thursday night game, the usual game-week routine for the Mountaineers has been changed slightly.

"We had a workout yesterday in the pool to kind of get some some of the stress taken off the joints from all the banging and bruises," Stewart said. "Today is class and lab day, and tomorrow we'll reconvene with practice."

While that largely holds to the usual form, the team will spend some additional time in full pads towards the end of the week and will spend some extra time on Stewart's particular area of emphasis early in the week.

"We'll have the special teams get a bit of work tomorrow because we have seven coaches on the road recruiting today and tomorrow," Stewart said. "Wednesday and Thursday, we'll be in full pads. Friday we'll practice again, and we'll start to get ready for the game that's on the following Thursday."


While the quarterback did throw four interceptions and fumble away a ball against AU, he also moved his team down the field effectively all game long and frustrated Tiger defenders on multiple occasions by avoiding pressure and turning would-be sacks into gains.

Stewart said that while Brown may have made mistakes on a couple of the throws that were picked off, he liked the mentality of his fifth-year senior signal-caller.

"I sure don't want a quarterback ever playing for me that doesn't think that he can stick that ball in there," he said. "That's first and foremost. They've got to have a little bit of gunslinger in ‘em. He's my man and I love him dearly. We just had a couple of tough situations that kind of bit us there, but he played his heart out."

While Brown is perceived by many as an experienced quarterback, Stewart noted that the Auburn game was only the fifth start for the long-time backup to Pat White and was his first start on the road.

He also noted that some of the issues the quarterback during the Auburn game had were not entirely his fault.

"He had a couple of bad decisions, but hey, if you break a route off and fool him -- you can't do that stuff," Stewart said. "It's a trust factor. If you're supposed to be where you're supposed to be, you've got to be there. Jarrett know not to throw the ball where there's a pack."

"He's learning. We've got a lot of football to play, and I know I'm glad to have Jarrett Brown as my quarterback. I bet the state of West Virginia is pretty glad he's our quarterback, too."

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