Nothing Personal

For the second-straight day, WVU head coach Bill Stewart emphasized that Friday night's Friends of Coal Bowl game against Marshall should not be viewed as some sort of battle between himself and first-year Marshall coach Doc Holliday.

Holliday was Stewart's associate head coach in Morgantown for two seasons before taking the Herd's head job last December.

After serving as the Mountaineers' recruiting coordinator in 2008-09, Holliday quickly tried to parlay the relationships he had built with several recruits while at West Virginia into some quick commitments for MU.

To an extent, the strategy worked, and another level of intrigue was added to a series that has never lacked for acrimony on both sides.

But Stewart insisted on Monday's Big East coaches' teleconference that there is no bad blood between himself and Holliday. And he said Tuesday that he wouldn't try to rally his players to win on his behalf.

"I don't stand up here in front of my team and tell them to win one for the Gipper or the Stew or whatever," he said. "I'm sure Doc doesn't do the same thing. This is all about the guys in the arena. I'm not sure what would be the reason they would want to talk about me or Doc, but some would.

"I think we need to leave it just at that. We'll let the players play and we'll coach. We'll let the guys tee it up and go. That's what the game is all about."

As for the players playing in Friday night's game for Marshall, the third-year WVU coach said he was impressed by their play on many levels, despite the 45-7 pounding the Herd took from No. 2 Ohio State in their season-opener.

And while there is only one game's worth of film for the Mountaineer coaching staff to try to decipher what exactly Holliday will want to do on both sides of the ball, Stewart seemed to have some ideas about what to expect.

"They'll be tough. I see Marshall as multiple. I see us as multiple," Stewart said. "I see Marshall as a team that will man blitz you. They'll zone blitz you, and they'll play base.

"I thought both quarterbacks played well [against OSU]. I've always been a big [Brian] Anderson fan. This youngster [Eddie] Sullivan from out of Boca Raton looks like he's going to be a dandy. I thought they got the ball out to the wideouts. I'm a big Lee Smith fan. I think he's a heck of a tight end. Their running backs hit it up in there pretty good."

West Virginia comes into the annual in-state match-up fresh off a 31-0 drubbing of Coastal Carolina, its first shutout in five seasons. Review of the game film did not expose a whole lot of major miscues for Stewart and his staff.

So instead, the head coach said the main goal for his team should be to ensure that players do not make the same mistakes again.

"When Coach [Bobby] Bowden came and spoke to our football team last Tuesday, it was all about the elimination of mistakes, and boy, that hit home," Stewart said. "You just can't play players that make mistakes. We didn't have a lot last week, but what we had needs to be cleaned up for us to become a good football team. That's the primary objective I've talked to the team about."

That may be easier said than done, as fans at Marshall's Joan C. Edwards Stadium will likely be primed and ready for Holliday's home debut, which just so happens to come in a nationally-televised game against that team's biggest rival.

The atmosphere shouldn't intimidate a team that played at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium just a season ago and is only weeks away from taking a trip to Death Valley for a game at LSU. But there will certainly be no lack of emotion on the Thundering Herd sideline.

"Our players and I'm sure the Marshall players, and I know fans from both schools and around West Virginia and the surrounding area are very much looking forward to this game," Stewart said.

"We've been in big venues. I know they'll be excited down there, as our people will be excited. It's going to be a fun night."


  • Stewart seemed to indicate that linebacker Pat Lazear was not likely to return to action this Friday, as he continues to nurse a bone bruise sustained towards the end of preseason practices back to health.

    "Patrick will make the trip," Stewart said. "We need him on the football team. His expertise can help us with the young guys that are going to take his place. I like his leadership and I like the fact that he's doing everything he can possibly do to get back to this football program.

    "I'm just sick for him that he had to miss game one and he may have to miss game two. But he'll be his own best doctor. When he says that bone bruise, which was a severe bone bruise, doesn't hurt anymore, then he'll play."

  • The short week of preparation has not done much to effect WVU's preparation schedule, thanks at least in part to the fact that Monday fell on the Labor Day holiday.

    That allowed the Mountaineer coaches to hold practice on a day that is normally dominated by classes for players. Indeed, on a normal game week, practices are never held on Mondays. But Stewart said beyond that, there really is not much different preparing for a Friday night kickoff as opposed to one on a Saturday afternoon.

    "Coaches haven't been to their homes as much. That changed a lot," the head coach said. "We've spent a lot more time over here because it's a short week. But it's a good week."

    Stewart said his team had a "light" practice Sunday to go along with a weightlifting session to "get the soreness out" from the previous day's game. Players then had the atypical Monday practice, and will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling Thursday.

  • While the head coach said he was largely pleased with what he had seen on film after the season-opening win over Coastal Carolina, there was one detail that left him a bit dissatisfied.

    "I saw a little touchdown vaudeville act," he said. "I didn't see it [during the game] because I was thinking about the PAT and the kickoff. But I saw it on film Sunday morning, and it got my attention. If we have to kick off from the 15-yard line after some little disco moves, I'm going to be a little bit tougher.

    "I like to see celebrations as long as [they are] instantaneous and it's not planned. Just don't get a 15-yard penalty, because if you do, you'll be on those stadium steps for a long time. I may do it in the game. I'm dead serious. I may say, ‘Get on them. Now. Right now.' So if that's letting swagger back, I've let it back. But I can promise you, the tail isn't going to wag this old dog."

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