Stewart again highlighted the need for West Virginia to play soundly in both the physical and mental aspects of the game. At times, the latter was sorely lacking as the Mountaineers failed to maintain its containment responsibilities against mobile quarterback B.J. Daniels.
"Mentally, you have to know where your help is coming from. You have to know that if you're getting double teamed, or one-on-one," Stewart said. "You have to think before the snap and react at the snap. It's the same thing on offense. We had some nice plays, and some that were not. You can't throw a pick down in their territory and down 10-9. That kills you. But' it's a team game, and a team loss. We do have some things to build on. We have to regroup and get ready for the stretch run. We have to stay together."
In response to a question regarding consistency, Stewart noted that term might mean different things to different observers, but responded with his view.
"I think we are playing pretty good football. We got beat by a team with good athletes. I think they have the same record as us now. I wish we were 7-1 and they were 5-3 now. Are we a juggernaut? No. We saw some good things, but we are not as good as we need to be."
The team will have its usual busy schedule of lifting, team meetings and a practice on Sunday.
Stewart did not shy away from the problems with pass defense.
"First, we will show them the film and tell them the truth," he said of his plans for correcting the myriad problems in that play phase. "We''ll show them the contain problems. We will not fingerpoint at #8 [Keith Tandy] or anyone else, nor will my coaches. The problems did not rest on that one guy. You can get pressure, you can break on the ball. We will play the best 11 guys, because I don't play favorites. We can coach harder, and play harder, and try to improve. All of the stuff we are trying to do to help. It was just a long night for a couple of youngsters."
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On the injury front, Stewart noted that not many issues lingered from Saturday, but that the usage pattern of Reed Williams would likely mimic that of his time in the USF contest for the remainder of his WVU career. Sidney Glover was shaken up late in the game but should be o.k., and Chris Neild shook off a bad-looking bend-back to come back into the game. Nate Sowers, who was kicked in the calf on Wednesday, appeared o.k. until arriving in Florida, where his leg locked up. He was replaced by Boogie Allen for the contest.
Williams "likely won't be an 80-play guy" for the rest of his time at West Virginia. His many injuries require more rest than what is available to heal them and get him back into top shape.
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Stewart noted his frustration with getting a holding call on WVU's last drive of the game.
"Don't call holding at the end of the game when you haven't called it the whole game," he noted. "If that gets me a reprimand, then so be it."
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"You may see some more interchangeable parts," said Stewart, referring to Scott Kozlowski's apparent failing to heed instructions to kick a punt from the 33 yard line toward the coffin corner (the boot went into the end zone near the hash mark). There's nothing wrong with players competing. It's not some sacred cow. The wind was killing us, and Tyler was hanging the ball well.
The mid-game switch highlighted the fact that Stewart will make personnel changes on the fly if he thinks they will better the team. Echoing his comments on playing the best 11 players, Stewart also noted that the assistant coaches of each position can make the call on those sorts of substitutions.
"I won't micromanage that," he noted of allowing his assistants to make that decision. "Now, if I say get a guy out, then he'll come out. But I am not going to pull them out just to embarrass them. But if we don't think he's getting the job done, we will do it. On the kickoff, we kicked the ball out of bounds, and we made the change, and we liked what we saw."
On the possibility of seeing Lider, who has shown solid ability as a directional punter, in the game in that role, Stewart said it was a possibility, but not something he has committed to yet.
"That's and option that we have, and we may or may not do it," he said. "I'm not firing people. But there are standards you have to play by. If you are told to coffin kick it, then you coffin kick it."