Football: Coach Stewart Teleconference


by Shannon McNamara for MSNsportsNET.com
November 8, 2009

Opening statement
We are happy with the win, but not overjoyed. We’re happy to get a BIG EAST win.

I was very proud of our defense. We did not give up a touchdown to a BIG EAST opponent, and that’s really good. In all honesty, it came at a time when our defense might have been reeling from last week’s loss at USF.

With that being said, I looked at their (Louisville’s) scores prior to the game, and they had scored a touchdown against everyone, but they did not get a touchdown against us, and that’s really good.

Our defense covered us in this game. I’m happy about that.

Our punter, Scott Kozlowski, kept us in the game with tremendous field position.

That ball scooted out down there at the end of the game (when UofL broke out from the one-yard line), and I hate to see that happen. I believe the East Carolina game it came out then too, and that’s not like us. We practice that (backed-up situations) very hard in the spring and in fall camp. You have seen us do many scrimmages with that. Losing that field position at the two-yard line was the only frustrating thing I saw. I compliment our defense and our staff.

Offensively, we had some guys nicked. We couldn’t get into rhythm. It seemed like every time a post was open or a deep ball was open, one of our guards or tackles got beat on protection.

You have to hit on all cylinders, and that’s what I told the team after the game. I told them that the future is in our hands and we are right where we need to be.

Other than our one kick-off return, where two guys just missed a guy at the 25-yard line, I was pleased with our kicking. I was pleased with Tyler Bitancurt – his 42-yard field goal was big. I want to get him to the 20 yard line, but we missed a third-down pass and that just broke our heart. We didn’t make a play. I was going to go two downs and go for it, but we dropped the pass. That was a big call, and I got great assistance from the booth on that. Also, our kickoffs were better.

We have a short week. Every player who was supposed to be here was here at 10 a.m. today. They will be back at 1 p.m., and then we get back to our normal schedule. We are practicing tomorrow night because it is a short week.

On Cincinnati’s offense
I would be a liar if I said I didn’t watch the game (Cincinnati-Connecticut) last night. I don’t normally watch a lot of BIG EAST football because I like to watch it on film. I watched last night because I wanted to get a flow of the game. I was watching Randy (Edsall) and am so proud of how he has kept his troops in every game. What a magnificent coaching job he has done. That game last night was just a heck of a game.

Cincinnati is powerful; I don’t know what we are going to do. They are just potent. I look at their scores – they are averaging 40 points a game. We can’t cancel it, so we are going to have to go do the best we can.

On injuries
Both (Noel Devine and Jarrett Brown) should play and be capable of playing if treatment goes well. I can’t make that call right now with ankles.

They both should be ready. Jarrett should be ready quicker than Noel; I don’t know if Noel will play or not. He should if treatments go well.

On backup running back options
Jock (Sanders) will be back there at running back, and maybe a little bit more of Ryan Clarke. Tavon Austin brings a little electricity to the game too. That reverse he ran yesterday – whew! He knocked that linebacker back when he hit him on the goal line. He is stronger than I thought.

On WVU’s offense production as the season progresses
I don’t know if the teams (during the last six games) are better. I think it’s the BIG EAST schedule and it’s catching (too many dropped passes). Other guys are bruised and beat up. Also, other teams have seen more film. That’s hurt our passing game.

It all can’t be put on Jarrett because we’ve had some drops yesterday in crucial situations. Also, there are breakdowns along the offensive line when guys are wide open. Did Jarrett miss that crossing route? Yes. He also forced one in there. But the receiver could have come flat across the end zone instead of losing a little ground and helped him.

There are all kinds of intangibles that we are going to show these guys. We will show them how to correct it, polish it and get ready to go.

What happens is people get the book on you. They see your routes and work on that. People just play us tough – Louisville just played us tough.

On play of Jarrett Brown during his first season as starting quarterback
I think he has played the same (since concussion in Marshall game). The youngster needs some help. The first thing you have to do when you pass the ball is pass block. Then you have to run precise routes. When Noel went down, we threw Tavon in there and we did some sets that we weren’t ready for. Jock is usually in the slot beside Jarrett, and Wes (Lyons) and Tavon were there, and Jock was in the backfield. That threw us for a little bit of a loop, not much, and that’s not an excuse, but we’ll get that better this week.

We will spend this week practicing as if Noel can’t play. I hope he does, and think he will.

On watching the UConn-UC game last night
I watched that game as a coach. I wanted to watch the flow. I really wanted to see tempo and how they (UC) come out of the huddle – all of the intangibles. I wanted to see the point of attack.

On preparing for Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros
I’m going to think that through. There are probably a lot of people that aren’t going to give us a chance, so this is going to be another game that we are going to have to fight our way through. We are going to have to find some way to win. They are clicking and hitting. They are the media darling. They are an assaulting offense.

I don’t know. We’ll probably be 20-30 point underdogs.

On flow of Cincinnati offense and defending it
They are a rhythm football team, and right now they are hot. Zach is playing lights out. He’s special. You can’t sit him down. (Quarterback) Tony Pike was up for the Heisman at one point this season, and he can’t even get on the field. This is a juggernaut. I don’t know what we’ll do; we’ll just have to hang on. They like to get up and down the field and use that tempo. Unless we have a lot of three and outs, our poor defense will be on the field a lot on Friday night.

You bend and not break. You sometimes have to take a chance and do a little man pressure. We are going to do the very best we can.

We played them the last two years as tough or tougher than anyone else. We won a very hard-fought game there (in 2007). Last year was an overtime win for them here. We’ve played them very tough, and I think we’ll hang on and do the best we can. They are the team that everyone is talking about and they are up for the national championship. That’s really good for our league, but we have a chance to play them and we’re going to see if we can make a mark as well.

On Coach Brian Kelly’s starting quarterback decision
Last night, he (Kelly) said he’s sticking with Zach. I don’t know how you take the hot hand out. I compliment Brian because that takes a lot of guts. He’s a great coach. He has that whole team rolling – they are believing and playing well. Right now, I don’t know how you can take him (Collaros) out. I just think the guy has such a hot hand, it would be difficult to take him out.

On play of Zach Collaros
Oh I saw him (in high school). I recruited him, but we already had Jarrett here. I thought the kid was going to go to the MLB. He can stroke it and hit that ball. He has the whole gamut in baseball. He played in that Steubenville league his whole life.

I know Zach and I know of him and I think he’s a tremendous story. It’s exciting for him and the University of Cincinnati. We are just going to have our hands full with him.

On play of UC’s defensive line vs. the WVU offensive line
They (UC) are a good football team, and they are very solid. They are explosive on offense. Their special teams – your heart is in your throat with every kick.

Defensively, I think they are doing a tremendous job and playing very hard. Last night, UConn got some points on them, and there have been some teams who have run the ball well on them.

We are not a big, physical grind-it-out team. That’s not our strong suit. We are more of a balanced, spread-the-wealth football team. I don’t know if our offensive line can go up and down the field on them. We are going to have to do what we do, try to spread the wealth and get the ball out on the screen, try the short passing game with a deep pass every now and then and do our very best running the football. Also, we just need to hold on to the ball.

Yesterday, we had 57 snaps. If we have 57 snaps against Cincinnati, it will be a mess.

On UC’s success and new personnel
I think their offense has helped them out greatly. I think their overall team has improved. Their kicking game has been good – not adequate, but very, very good. That offense just goes up and down the field.

Defensively, I don’t know the amount of snaps they have had – I don’t look at that because it doesn’t matter to me and my thinking. They have tough, good youngsters. They always have, and always will have. They were physical then, and are physical now. They are like the Mountaineers. We think we’re physical. We are just going to have to get out there and play the very best we can.




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