Football: Coach Bill Stewart quotes
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – WVU football coach Bill Stewart’s quotes from Friday’s teleconference.
I’m very pleased. I thought last night’s game was very intense. It was a very physical, hard hitting game. A typical BIG EAST black and blue physical contest. There were a lot of good things in that game, and some not so good. We’re very proud we got that win and got started off on the right foot in BIG EAST play. And again, I was so pleased with how hard the Mountaineers played and how intense it was. It was a heck of an opener, it was exactly what we thought it would be and the game worked out in our favor, which we’re very pleased about today.
We have a team meeting today at 2:30 p.m. We will go over our awards at that time, and then we will go over special teams. At that point, we will break and the offensive guys will watch film with their guys and the defense will lift and run and get the soreness out, and we’ll switch that halfway through and complete that. Then the other side of the ball will meet and the other guys lift. We will be off after tonight; the guys have treatment tomorrow, that’s all they will do on Saturday, as it’s an off day. We’ll get ready to resume for game No. 2 and round two in the BIG EAST.
On what coach Stewart liked the most and the least about the team’s performance
I certainly liked our defense, I thought our defense played outstanding. I thought our guys flew around and did a heck of a job of leveraging the football. You must leverage the football with players like B.J. Daniels and Plancher, and the type of football team they have with Bogan out there and Lamar, who was out there running those routes and things. I thought it was a physical game, I thought our defense really did rise to the occasion and we kept them in check pretty good. I was really pleased with the way we disguised. I thought our secondary did a heck of a job in disguising and trying to keep B.J. Daniels from getting into a rhythm like he’d done last year. I was okay with the kicking game, there was one big kick-off return I wasn’t pleased with. Our punting game though only averaged 38 yards a punt, but we kept them pinned back pretty good inside their 20 a couple of times and they didn’t get great field position most of the night.
Offensively, I was pleased with the way we started and passed the ball and spread our wealth and got the ball to so many playmakers. I thought that was good. We got our guys the ball in space but we didn’t have a big, big night simply because those guys are good and fast and they ran us down. We are now becoming a more two-dimensional team and we didn’t run the ball as well as we’ve done in a couple of games, but that credit goes to the South Florida Bulls. They’re fast and their defense is good. If you like good defense and a sound kicking game and a hard hitting game, that was a good one to see.
On how this victory over USF compares to this season’s other victories
Well, it’s a win and I’m very proud to get it, I thought it was a good win to start off the BIG EAST. I don’t think you should ever apologize for winning. It was 20 -6 in a game that we’ve had trouble with the opponent for the past few years, and now our staff is 2-1 and we’ve evened the series at 3-3. We have a lot to do; we’re still getting better each and every week, and we just have to do a little bit better as a total team.
On changing the running game
I’m not going to worry because I liked our drive in the third quarter. I don’t know how long we had that ball but it seemed to me like we had a real nice long drive, and got the field goal which put us up 20-3 at the time. That was a big, big drive because we took a lot of clock and we ran the ball a bunch there and made hay. They’re good, we’re good, it was a defensive game and we just have to do better at running the football.
On the short yardage passing game
We wanted to spread the field out because any time we tried to run the ball they had that extra guy in the box. That’s what happened to the spread to a lot of teams, and our quarterback is a better passer right now than he is a runner just simply because that’s what we’ve had him do more. That being said, we felt that we could move the ball that way. And even though during the fourth quarter it was always fourth and one or fourth and two, so we were making yards, we just weren’t getting the chains to move. That’s where we’ve got to get better. When you get in a tight game like that you have to be able to move those chains and get your defense off the field and at least make the other team drive the full length of the field.
Now remember, guys, we were 7-of-17. That’s not great, and they were 1-of-11. And that’s not really good at all. I just told the guys that we don’t want to turn the ball over. If the South Florida Bulls were to score, I wanted them to go 70, 80, 90 yards. They can call me conservative, they can call me whatever. When your defense is playing like we were playing and we were keeping everything pretty good in the kicking game, then you’re allowing your defense to win. What I’m trying to do here is win football games.
My concerns are still the big plays. I saw one play there in the fourth quarter, Plancher went through that hole, and they had a hat on everybody. If Eain Smith doesn’t make that tackle, he barely cut the legs out, if he doesn’t make that tackle, it’s a touchdown. Now the game is 20-13, with a chance for an onside kick, or for us to muff something or make us punt. But if we had just gotten another drive and gotten three more points to make it 23-6, then they would have to score three more times and that’s what I was trying to do. And defensively, you still work on all the stuff. You have to make sure tackles, which pretty much most of the night we did. We pressured them in the passing game, we kept their great athlete, B.J. Daniels, in check, and don’t forget that. That’s the thing that made me happy. We didn’t give up any big play, we didn’t turn the ball over on offense and we got a bunch of turnovers from them and that to me is what it’s all about.
On watching film on Syracuse
I wanted to know how they ran that ball. Let’s say we did in the fourth quarter what we did in the third quarter, pound the ball. We started to do that but we took seven out of the game. I don’t want to take away what’s been good to us. We wanted to see if we could make that work and that was frustrating because they were fast and we’ve never ran the ball against them, never, except Pat White in 2005. Every other time they’ve had an answer for us, and they had an answer last night.
Syracuse had patience and they hung in there because South Florida didn’t score on the Syracuse defense. I could have taken the same approach in the fourth quarter that I did in the third, but I wanted to get the ball to seven. If he could just break one, just one breakaway, then we’re up another score, 27-6, instead of getting in the power set and running down there to score another field goal. I came in early to watch Syracuse because I wanted to see the patience that Doug Marrone and his staff did in that South Florida game. And we did that in the third quarter, but didn’t do it in the fourth.
On strong defensive play
I don’t want to play not to lose. That’s a bunch of garbage, we’re playing to win. I did the best thing I knew we could do and in the fourth quarter I hoped seven would have a chance to break one. Then you go in there and pound the ball in there. But we chose to do what we did and we came up a yard here or two yards there. It was so, so close, and I thought we’re just going to break one and we didn’t. That’s all I’m saying. Our defense is playing well.
On Noel Devine
Noel Devine is not 100 percent. Here’s the deal, I can’t tell you what his foot feels like. I can only look out there, and what I think, he’s just not as quick yet and hopefully by next week that will get better. He’s gotten better each and every day. I don’t know how you can say a guy is 100 percent. He’s not as quick as he was before he got hurt.
I kept trying to get him the ball. We try to keep track of how many times seven touches the ball because sooner or later, statistics have shown in the past that he’s going to break one. It just didn’t happen. They are good, they have a good defense and that’s the trouble. It didn’t happen. We just have to get a little bit better.
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