November 16, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Bill Stewart's comments from Monday's press conference at Milan Puskar Stadium:
I said it after the game and I’ll say it again, that was a great game for the college game and a great game for the BIG EAST. I just wish the Mountaineers would have come out on top.
We played a great-effort football game. Our guys gave effort and I’m very proud. We came out of it in pretty shape. I was in here Saturday morning after getting back at 5 a.m. We had treatments at 12:30 p.m. and every Mountaineer was here. That ballgame is behind us and I really compliment the Mountaineers on the effort we gave and that was a fun football game. What would’ve been even more fun was a victory.
(Pitt coach) Dave Wannstedt spoke in the BIG EAST call and said it’s the BIG EAST brawl, and he’s ready for it, and they’re ready for it. I saw some quotes in the paper and the players are ready for it and that’s really great for college football.
It’s a very intense rivalry, it’s going to be one the fans enjoy and one the players and coaches enjoy. They’re probably beat up and we’re not nicked up too bad in key positions, but this week gives us a chance to get healed up. Our classes will not be in session next week. The team will be going home this weekend, as I’m sure the University of Pittsburgh youngsters will do the same. We’ll get a chance to spend a lot of family time here and get ready for one of the greatest days of the year, Thanksgiving, and most certainly what we think is an even better day is the annual Backyard Brawl.
On the fumble to touchdown reversal
That game is beyond us; it’s over and in the books. It was in Saturday’s sports column as 24-21 and it can’t be changed.
I got on the bus and took my box lunch and did a lot of soul-searching and thinking, and I’ll let it go at that.
On giving up a lot of rushing yardage
First of all, Isaiah Pead is a good back. He made us miss and that is the No. 5 team in the country and they did well. The youngster at Louisville is pretty good, ran the ball a lot and we were in a bend and not break mode and didn’t give up a touchdown and won the football game. I wish we could hold everybody to 20 yards, but it doesn’t happen in this day in age. I know this - if we give up a third big game in a row, we’re in trouble.
On Dion Lewis
We’re just going to have to rally the ball in leverage. I watched that game Saturday night, as I’m sure many West Virginia fans did. I watched it as a coach and I was very impressed with the University of Pittsburgh’s running game. I have not had a chance to study them; we will this week. I think it was a good game plan they had against Notre Dame. That’s the first game I have had a look at them.
On the third down call
We started on our side at the 40-yard line and it was 7:14 and we got it down to 5:50. I said if we can burn two more minutes and score burning that, then with 3:00 or under I was going to go for two.
We were ready. I told them to get our best call ready in case I wanted to do it. It was going to be a judgment call.
After I studied it, I saw the defensive lineman bar-stooled and got his (Jock Sanders)foot.
On whether WVU should have used the jumbo package
It was discussed, but I like the ball in No. 9’s (Jock Sanders) hands. He has been doing really, really well. Not that Clarke hasn’t, but I like the ball in No. 9’s hands and I like the play we called. Cincinnati made a nice play and did a good job. I wasn’t pleased with the protection on fourth down and they brought a corner fire and we still almost got the throw off. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
It was a plus 40-yard kick. Can he make it? Yes. Has he made it? Yes. Would he have made it? We’ll never know, but I didn’t think we could stop Marty Gilyard on the kickoff return. I wanted to put the pressure on them. That’s why I was debating on the road and how much time was left on the clock. If it would’ve been with two minutes, I probably would’ve gone for two. I wanted to get a couple of minutes off the clock. If there were five minutes, I probably would’ve gone for one.
On developing freshmen and redshirt freshmen
We are going to practice on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I don’t know if we’ll practice on Saturday or not. We will work on fundamentals.
We’ve played almost 700 plays with five guys. We’ve been very fortunate to play almost 700 snaps with five offensive linemen and that’s tough. In bowl practice, that’s when we get the younger guys. We get those extra 15 practices and we send our veterans in after a short practice and then we practice the young guys.
On whether two weeks help prepare for Pitt’s Jonathan Baldwin
Two years isn’t enough. The Baldwin youngster is special. We had a young guy like that a few years back named Chris Henry. He plays on Sundays now. That’s who Mr. Baldwin reminds me of, our Chris Henry. He looks like Chris Henry, Reggie Rembert, Dave Saunders - those guys who can go down the field, jump and make plays. Billy Stull is doing a great job getting that ball to him and it’ll be tough on our secondary.
First we have to stop the running game, then we’ll worry about him, but it’s going to be tough. It’s a double-edged sword.
On the progress on Bill Stull
I have not had the chance to devour film on him, but I’ll watch it this week. It sure looks like he’s playing well and from what I’ve heard, he’s had a tremendous year.
On if there is too much being made about the change of coordinators at Pitt
Frank (Cignetti Jr.) is a great coach and they had a great coach there in Matt Cavanaugh. When Wannstedttook over, he had some tough times with the talent level. He played the hand he was dealt with recruiting. When Paul Rhoads left, Dave adjusted, and when Matt Cavanaugh left, Dave adjusted. They have a nice staff and a staff that does a good job.
On why Noel Devine came out of Cincinnati game
He’s just beat up. What happened was his hamstring, it wasn’t pulled, but when you’ve got an ankle, a hip and a hamstring, I put the ball in No. 9’s hand. We’re running out of parts.
On the lack of a deep-passing game
What helps that offensive line is when little No. 7 takes one like he did at Auburn and that gives us a spark. We were in that football game and I can’t fault our guys’ effort. I wish we could drop back and throw touchdown after touchdown. That’s what we tried to do and you have to give credit to the team we played - they played us pretty tough. That team was in the Orange Bowl last year and did not have a great showing, but they were in it. We lost in overtime by three last year. This year they’re 10-0 and fifth in the country and we lost by three. Are those moral victories? No. Do I tell the team they are moral victories? No.
On how Jarrett Brown looked running last game
He played so much better, he was in the flow of the game so much more. He brings such an electricity and I thought Jarrett did a really nice job. He was playing on a bad ankle. We’re all nicked. Everyone in America is nicked and guys just have to fight through it.
I saw a sparkle in his eyes. He got hit in the head. I was chewing on the officials and I said, ‘did you not see that helmet-to-helmet and one guy hit him in the hip?’ That is what hurt him. I looked at him and I said, ‘How you doing buddy?’ He said, “I’m having a blast.” That’s when it was 21-14. I told him to go get it in the third quarter. We had a drive and on a third and 10, it wasn’t meant to be.
On Pitt’s team
They have good talent. They have more talent than they did five years ago. Someone told me there was an article that Dave asked for patience way back and the Pitt people gave him patience.
On the 7 p.m. start time
In college football you just take your marching orders and go, especially when ESPN gets involved because they have been very, very good to us. Someone asked me about playing on two Friday nights the past few weeks and I said, ‘Didn’t Pitt do that earlier?’ You go play, you take your marching orders and go. I don’t care if it’s at noon, one, three, seven, ten - I don’t care. It can be their place, our place or a parking lot somewhere in between - I don’t care just as long as we have a chance to play in the Backyard Brawl. It’s round six in the BIG EAST and the 11th game of the season and we have a chance to get better.
On the last time Pitt visited Morgantown and whether the roles are reversed
I am going to tell the team to out-block, out-tackle, out-hit, out-hustle Pitt, strain and play Mountaineer football. Were we a better team in game 10 last week than we were in game nine? In my assessment, we were. We played better on the road against Cincinnati than we played at home against Louisville.
On his thoughts on instant replay
Our guys work hard. I see them in position and watch them. The BIG EAST guys do a good job.
I thought the guys on the field made a great call.
On the kickoff penalty
It happened under my instruction. I told them to get a little jump on that for Gilyard. We tried it and got caught with our hand in the cookie jar and I told them to because they won’t call it a second time.
What happened is we got a little jump and made a nice play, but it came back. That’s OK. I tried to load the box on him and we just got past the kicker a little too much. It was something I instructed them to do, but they said you need to stay back a little bit. After that they had three plays, minus seven yards, had the ball for 1:38 and punted to us. We got the ball and went five plays and punted it back and changed field position. They got the ball, missed a field goal and we got the ball and scored to lead 14-7. That kick with the two penalties had no part in any way, shape or form on the game. I just tried to use a little sandlot on coverage and got caught.
On whether they except Devine to get to 100 percent
He’s got time. What happens is you get back at 5 a.m. and try to do a quick treatment for the ones that are hurt. We didn’t do it this week, but we did it after South Florida. We went home and came back at 12:30 p.m. To a man, every Mountaineer was here before 12:30 p.m. I was late; I was in at about 12:42 p.m. Their feelings are hurt. How do you expect them to feel when you go and lay your guts on the line as a player and a coach.
On Tony Pike and Zach Collaros
I had two nice conversations, one with Tony Pike and one with Zach. Zach is an old home boy and he knows people I know. His (high school) coach Reno Saccoccia and I are great friends. I had two pleasant conversations. I didn’t want to be short or smug with those guys. I really admire Tony Pike, but when he came in, I was worried because of his vision in the red zone.
I watched the ball get to him and we he hitched up. I saw the crossing routes and I said, ‘we’re dead.’ It’s so hard to run with the crossing route in the end zone. The deep ball you can get on their hip and a short you can get over the shoulder, but a crossing route you have to be stride-for-stride.
On Tony Pike’s slant throw
He was a Heisman candidate. I told him after that game that I wished him nothing but the best and told him to take care of himself. I asked him what was wrong, because my son has a five inch plate and seven screws and it’s just below the growth plate here (shoulder) and just above the growth plate here (elbow). He said, ‘coach, mine shifted, but I’m going to be OK.’ We talked about his fracture and my son’s fracture. I hit him on the head and said I wish you nothing but the best and I said the same thing to Zach. That’s what I’m going to do after every game.
On the way replay works
I don’t understand. In the third quarter, Alric Arnett was third and ten on the middle route. Now there was contact - it’s evident, I watched the film. I asked the back judge and he said I saw wham, wham. Well if you’re going to replay every play, then why wasn’t that replayed? I don’t understand. I’m not disagreeing - a man made a decision and we have to live with that. That’s how life is. Sometimes the hand dealt isn’t the greatest. Sometime the hand dealt is a stud and you don’t have a draw. Well, when that guy makes a decision, you’re in a five card stud - there is no draw. I don’t understand why certain plays are reviewed and others aren’t. I have no comment on someone that made a judgment call that may be different than mine.