Tag Archives: Bill Stewart

10 Things That Will Go Down Tomorrow: UConn

Who's faster?

Who's faster?

Well, it’s back to the land of optimism for Mountaineer fans everywhere. We beat a good decent Auburn team, and we looked like the offensive juggernaut of old. All is well. Right? Right? Turns out, no one knows for sure, but with the rest of the conference seemingly unable to win a game, we should be fine. Just, you know, take care of business against a UConn team that is supposedly one of the better teams in the Big East. So why aren’t I excited, or even remotely concerned? Because this isn’t basketball. Without Jim Calhoun, I can’t believe the Huskies stand a chance. So tomorrow afternoon, while you nurse your hangover and wonder how that greasepaint got all over your thighs, I predict these things will occur:

  1. We run #5, repeatedly.
  2. The D doesn’t give up a touchdown. Bold, I know, but I feel like this defense is beginning to gel.
  3. Calhoun doesn’t look half as drunk as Huggins did in his sideline interview.
  4. Dorrell Jalloh runs wild in the secondary.
  5. Jeff Mullen makes a couple of interesting, but successful, play calls.
  6. JB gets back in the game on some “wildcat” type sets.
  7. Nate Sowers comes up with a big play for the Defense.
  8. Bubble screen. Works. Huh.
  9. We stay injury free. Knock on wood.
  10. Mountaineers cruise, but Stew gives the TV camera more than one of his ‘daggummit’ faces.

WVU: 27   UConn: 12

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10 Things That Will Go Down Tomorrow: Syracuse

Welcome home.  This is a little bigger than Pony Lewis Field, isn't it?

Welcome home. This is a little bigger than Pony Lewis Field, isn't it?

It’s homecoming weekend in Morgantown, so you know what that means, right? Don’t go downtown this evening. There’s a parade and the traffic will be awful. Oh, right, and we play Syracuse tomorrow. I was wondering in that “if a tree falls in the woods” sort of way: who does Syracuse play for homecoming? Does Oneida have a team? Just wondering. I’ve looked into the Magic 8 Ball and I’ve decided that the following will go down at stadium tomorrow:

  1. Pat White finishes the game. Bold prediction, I know.
  2. Syracuse keeps it closer than we would like throughout the first half infuriating fans.
  3. Racist West Virginians take out their displeasure at The Express by hurling epithets at the opposing bench. Wait, I’m pretty sure that usually happens.
  4. Noel Devine slices and dices, and embarrasses a couple of members of Orange D.
  5. Morgantown native and Syracuse kicker Patrick Shadle is both cheered and jeered. The closer the game, the less the hometown crowd likes him.
  6. Morty Ivy spends quite awhile in the Orange’s backfield.
  7. Chris Gunnoe, of U92 Sports, does a kick-ass job sideline reporting for ESPN-U. Unfortunately no one in Morgantown gets ESPN-U, so we’ll have to take his word for it.
  8. Bill Stewart uses the word “dagummit” in his halftime remarks.
  9. Prior to kickoff, hilarity ensues in the light blue lot. I can’t tell you what, but my sources point to it involving cold beer, deep fried turkey legs and a viking helmet.
  10. The ‘Eers lay a beating on the Orange and give them a little more confidence for their big Oct. 23rd showdown with the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers fired their Offensive Coordinator this week. That game is looking more and more winnable. C’mon people, who’s with me?

WVU: 35 Syracuse: 10

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Uh-oh.

No need to cry.  Yet.

No need to cry. Yet.

Sooooooooo…… looks like Reed Williams, despite making big plays in the Marshall game, isn’t out of the woods yet. He was described as “questionable” at Coach Stew’s Tuesday afternoon press conference which sent the West Virginia sports talk-a-razzi into a tizzy. The big question being, did we blow Reed’s chances of a medical redshirt if he really is too banged up to go? Mike Casazza of the Charleston Daily Mail is happy to clear things up for you:

Big-time confusion calls for a big-time clarification. Reed Williams has until after the Syracuse game to decide whether he’ll take a medial redshirt or play on through the pain he’s experiencing in his shoulders. We were told a decision had to be made in the team’s first four games, which made this week’s news he was questionable somewhat alarming — the four-game deadline had passed.

In truth Reed can play four games — two down, two to go — before making a decision and those four must be in the first half of a championship sport season. In short, he can play/sit the next two games before he picks red or the old gold and blue. I’d apologize for the confusion, but, frankly, it’s not my fault.

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Marshall Recap

Slices and dices.

Slices and dices.

If you felt more wind than usual last night in Morgantown, that was the collective sigh of relief breathed all across the city. Some folks, but not this blog, convinced themselves it was possible to actually lose this one. Nope. Sorry. We won and won big. Now, Pat White went down, which is never good, but post-game Stew described him as “fine”. Jarrett Brown played well in relief and, with the exception of his one interception, and looked like we could count on him to come through when we need him.

The real story on offense was Devine, who finally looked like the runner we knew he could be. His dash at the end of the second quarter where he reversed field, was pursued all the way to the far sideline, and then just broke the defender’s ankles with a stop and spin move to gain ten more yards was a thing of beauty. I was pretty sure that only happened in video games. Stew didn’t even mismanage the clock at the end of the first half, he left that up to White, so I guess that’s something.

The real story was the defense, which looked suffocating. They were in the backfield all day and forced three big turnovers which was a nice surprise. It’s nice to see them flying around making things happen out there as opposed to just trying to hold the line. Having our full contingent of linebackers back was a big step forward too, as it’s our most experience unit on the D.

All in all, we’re back to where we were after the ‘Nova game. We have to ask ourselves how good we were, and how bad was our opponent? Despite the probable answer to both of those, I see the season slowly righting itself. Take care of business against Rutgers and Syracuse at home over the next two weeks, and we could be right where we want to be when Auburn comes to town. Primed to prove ourselves and make that next step. I can’t wait.

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10 Things That Will Go Down Tomorrow: Marshall

I wasn't worried about this guy, either.

I wasn't worried about this guy, either.

So, here we sit, on the eve of the second home game for the ’08 crop of Mountaineers. When I think back to what I thought before the season opener, and compare it to what I think now, I shudder. That said, I still feel like I’m one of the most optimistic Mountaineer fans out there, as I’ve heard everyone I know lambaste McAffee, Stewart and the Defense ad nauseum. Honestly, I still believe in all three and think that, with the help of good ‘ole #5, the ‘Eers are still going to turn in a successful season. Seriously. Win the Big East. It can be done. The rampant homerism will continue, and I’m optimistic about what’s going to happen against Marshall High School University tomorrow. Ten things that I think we’ll see at Mountaineer Field tomorrow:

  1. A little more downfield passing. But only barely.
  2. Pat White looking more and more like the Pat White we know.
  3. Marshall fans in the parking lot mistakenly saying “us” when referring to WVU. Because they, like, you know, root for us the rest of the year.
  4. John Sanders somehow working “Bending, bending….good” into the telecast.
  5. Jarret Brown inserted in the backfield, but not at quarterback…
  6. …and he makes a big play the first time he’s in the game…
  7. …and he gets hurt on the second play, reminding us what it means to be Mountaineer fans.
  8. Reed Williams makes big plays, and gets bigger cheers from the hometown faithful.
  9. Jock Sanders breaks one on a kick return.
  10. Post game, Stewart and Snyder compliment each other’s team enough to make you not believe a word of it.

WVU: 31 Marshall: 13

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Colorado Recap

Thud.

Thud.

Alright Mountaineer nation. The sky is not falling. At least not officially. Yet.

I was in Boulder once. I’d had this preconceived notion that Colorado was a hippie wonderland where weed fell from the skies. I was proven right. That said, our coaching staff seemed stoned last night.

I thought McAffee should have been given the chance to kick a 65-yarder at the end of regulation. This is a guy who said in yesterday’s paper that he could kick a 75-yarder in the thin air at that elevation. I believed him, besides what could it hurt?  But then Coach Stew opted for the Hail Mary instead. Remember, it’s called a “Hail Mary” because it doesn’t have a prayer to work. Stew also mismanaged the clock so badly that Pat should have had a shot at a much shorter field goal to win it.  By the time he bounced it off the upright I don’t think his head was in the right place after being jerked around by the coaching staff.

Fundamentally, the offensive play calling was atrocious. It did reek of Don Nehlen, as some have mentioned. One or two play action passes were all we would have needed to break open the game, and give White and Devine some room to run. I loved the flea flicker wide receiver pass, though it looked like a wounded duck fluttering about out there. It’s intended target didn’t have a defender within twenty yards of him. Further proof that faking a run would have opened everything else up.

All in all, we looked better than we did against ECU and this isn’t an embarrassing loss. Losing to Marshall next week would fall into that category, but my waning faith hasn’t slipped so much to make me think that will happen. The defense came to play, and that’s one glimmer of hope for the next 9 games of this season. We just need to take care of business in conference play. I still beleive Pat White can get it done, I just hope Stew and Mullen let him.

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10 Things That Will Go Down Tomorrow: Colorado

I wish all there players looked like this....

I wish all their players looked like this....

Welcome to the return of “10 Things….”. I’ve had a lot of time to think about my mistakes, and I’ve decided that these posts will continue to contain the rampant homer-ism that they featured prior to the ECU debacle. With that in mind, and the agonizing lay-off over, consider the following points.

  1. We will run the ball. Over. And Over. And Over. And, you get it….
  2. We will NOT play like the “little fellas” coach Stew suggests. We will play like big fellas, huge fellas and tough fellas.
  3. Jarrett Brown will see some snaps in the backfield where we desperately need his size and strength.
  4. Reed Williams finally takes the field.
  5. We distract the Colorado defense with the two things they have no power over: Yonder Mountain String Band CDs and high-grade marijuana.
  6. Noel Devine finally finds the end zone.
  7. John Denver and his affinity for both states is mentioned repeatedly. “Country Roads” and “Rocky Mountain High” are played. Thankfully “Sunshine on My Shoulders” is not.
  8. The defense holds Colorado to under 400 yards passing. Barely.
  9. McAffee goes looking for their chick kicker, but can’t find her. Weeps openly.
  10. The traveling contingent of Mountie fans show the Buffs what partying is really about.

WVU: 31 Colorado: 27

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East Carolina Recap

Somewhere, Stew is still yelling

Somewhere, Stew is still yelling

First of all, you can come back inside from the ledge. Seriously. People love you, and you have too much to live for. Like basketball season. T-Minus 68 days!

But seriously, that was pretty bad. I don’t even know what to say. Some people have been grumbling about Coach Stew already, though I’m not going to take that route. I was going to hand out some blame here, but there’s too much to go around. We knew ECU was a good team. We knew they were primed and ready to get their shot at a top ten team. We knew the Defense had problems. We just didn’t know it was gonna be like that.

The thing that bothers me the most was that there was no rally. We’ve rallied from worse deficits against better teams (see Lousville, 2004). Even in the Pitt loss, Pat White had his “Willis Reed” moment where you knew we still had a shot, despite not getting it done. What kills me about this one was not that we lost, but the sluggish fashion in which we did it. The coaching staff could be seen on the sidelines pleading with players for more effort only to be met with blank, lifeless stares. When I saw the lack of emotion on our sideline in the 3rd quarter, I knew we were done.

The rampant homer-ism with which predictions were made for last weeks “10 Things….” column obviously paid no dividends, because I was dead wrong on everything. I couldn’t even predict the weather, but then again, I guess no one can.

While many Mountaineer fans proceed to jump from the “Go ‘Eers” to the “Fire Stew” bandwagons, I can tell you this: The Hills Have ‘Eers is in this one for the long haul. Despite looking like a team that will struggle to win 8 games this season, hope is not lost. All we have to do is win the conference and then we’re back in our third BCS Bowl in the four years of #5. I’ll take that any day of the week.

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Let’s talk about the weather

Looks like the Mountaineer blog-o-sphere is up in arms about what the weather is going to be like in Greenville this weekend. West By God Virginia posted this picture:

Looks like the same play we call for #5

Looks like the same play we call for #5

Michael Casazza also reports that both coaches are paying attention to the possibility of playing this weekend’s contest in a deluge:

Stewart said he forced the Mountaineers to practice outside in the rain one day last week rather than head inside the Caperton Indoor Facility.

“They thought I was crazy,” he said. “I knew we’d have a rain game. I didn’t know it’d be a big, big rain game.”

The Pirates do not have an indoor facility and Holtz said the final two weeks of practice before the season opener were dotted with rainy days.

“It’s very difficult to simulate playing in the rain until you actually go out and do it,” Holtz said. “If you just get the ball wet, it doesn’t get your arms and hands and pants wet. The best way to train for the rain is to practice in it and we’re fortunate to have had some opportunities.”

Holtz said he might turn the sprinklers on “all week so there’s about 27 inches of rain on the field whether we get anything Saturday or not so we can try to slow the West Virginia offense.”

He’ll also throw buckets of water on the ball right before the snap in practice just so everyone gets used to handling a wet ball. The Mountaineers have similar ideas in place.

That said, Stewart told everyone to come to the game without umbrellas.

“You won’t need them,” he said. “That thing’s going to kick east and blow out into the ocean.”

Holtz disagreed and encouraged fans to pack umbrellas.

“Even if it doesn’t rain,” he said, “the sprinklers will be on.”

This one should be entertaining. I love watching football in the rain. Playing in all weather is one of those things that sets football apart from most other sports. Here’s hoping we mud our way through it. I’m rooting for us to run the ball a little more than we did against Villanova, and this will set up a situation where we’ll almost be forced to.

Enjoy the first game of the NFL’s season tonight, and I’ll see you tomorrow with my East Carolina preview.

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