Football: Coach Bill Stewart Press Conference

  • By Shannon McNamara
  • |
  • November 23, 2010 03:31 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU football coach Bill Stewart quotes from Tuesday’s press conference

on the possibility of a lot of points in this Friday’s game
I really don’t know. It hasn’t been lately, and it’s probably been a few years since either team has put up a lot. We’ll see how the ball bounces. I’m sure they’ll play hard, and we will too.

Both teams have very good defenses. Our guys are playing well, and Pitt is playing really well. It’s going to be a real battle.

on the Pitt offensive mentality
What they do well is run their tailbacks. They have the No. 5 and No. 7 running backs in the league, and if you put them together, they’re the No. 1 running back. They also run the belly and use the play-action pass.

They try to control the ball. They also have a great punter. Pitt football is tough, and it’s been successful for Dave (Wannstedt). I don’t see that changing.

on his mentality this week and whether this week is any different than others
No. I’m a little bit more short this week, because I want to get right to the point. For 11 weeks, I’ve been asked about the BIG EAST, and in most of those 11 weeks, I’ve been asked about Pitt. Well, Pitt’s here, and I don’t want to talk about the BIG EAST. I want to talk about Pitt. The only thing on my horizon is Pitt, Pitt, Pitt. I’m trying to keep the players focused on Pitt, too.

on the similarities between quarterbacks Tito Sunseri and Geno Smith
Both manage the ball, the clock and the chains very well. They both have live arms, are good, balanced throwers and make good decisions. They both can run the football when they need to and can evade trouble and the sack.

Neither is Pat White nor can they run the option like we’ve seen in the BIG EAST in years past.

I think they both have tremendous leadership skills, and the good thing is that they are both just sophomores.

Geno grew up a gym rat – it’s always in the film room or throwing the ball somewhere with someone. I’m sure Sunseri grew up in the same way.

on the role turnovers will play in game’s outcome
They’ll be pivotal. In my opinion, the turnover battle will decide the game.

on the threat of Pitt receiver Mike Shanahan cutting across the middle
He is one of my favorites in the league. I tried recruiting him. I absolutely admire and respect him, and I hate it that we have to face him. He’s a game-breaker.

The vertical seam and the shallow and deep digs will give us fits this weekend, and I hope Shanahan isn’t on the receiving end of those.

on Keith Tandy
He is a corner, plays deep and does a lot of man covers. The players call him ‘Tip Ball.’ When you’re on the corner and not in one-on-one situations, and the ball does get tipped, he’s behind to catch them. However you catch them you catch them, he’s leading the league (in interceptions).

He is a student of the game. He was a high school quarterback, centerfielder and basketball player.

I asked his hometown beat writer this past weekend if he is truly this good of a young man, and he told me ‘Coach, he’s better.’ That’s what I thought. He’s a remarkable young man.

on the significance a win in the Backyard Brawl has on recruiting
I’m going to look at that glass as half-full, not half-empty. A win, anytime, over Pitt is certainly a big win. Does it make or break the season? It’s a win over Pitt.

on the playing surface condition at Heinz Field
I did not (talk to anyone at Pitt about it). I talked to this team about it.

We were on grass yesterday, and we’re going to go outside today.

I don’t talk about it (the field conditions). Oakland (Raiders) talked about it. That’s what I told the team. I’ll look at it.

When you play on a wet field, what do you have to do? You keep your feet under you – you have to narrow your base. The plant foot will be the most important for the kickers and the punters. You can’t over-stride.

We work on this all of the time. We put balls in buckets during summer camp. It’s rain! It happens. If it’s cold, it’s cold. That’s fine.

on the team’s Thanksgiving plans
Thursday will be like our normal Friday – we’ll have our meetings, travel to Pittsburgh and check-in at the hotel. We’ll have Thanksgiving dinner tonight with our families.

on the potential increased playing time for Shawne Alston
I can’t tip my hand and tell you what I’m going to do. Shawne is going to get some more touches. He’s played hard, and he’s played well.
I’ll look over the game, get a feel and decide what we’re going to do. I’m honest, but I can’t give you the inside skinny on everything we’re going to do.

on the significance of the WVU coaching staff having Backyard Brawl playing experience
We beat them when I was on the freshman team, and the seniors lost to them. I hated it for those guys. We were 8-3 that year, and it just broke my heart for Coach Bowden. It’s the Backyard Brawl.

Coach Dunlap is now in his 30th, and there are a few others that have been in even more. I don’t want to reminisce too much – I want everything to be about this week’s game.

on the welcome kicker Tyler Bitancurt will receive
He’s a big guy. He missed that one down at Louisville – it may have been low, it may not have been. A 6-foot-9 guy jumped it. If it wasn’t low, than that young man needs to be playing basketball. I hugged Tyler, told him I still love him and that he’s still my kicker. I don’t know what more to do.

I’m sure Pitt will give him a warm reception.

on WVU’s punt returners
We practiced yesterday, and I had guys flying by them (Brandon Hogan and Jock Sanders). We’re in game No. 11, and we’re still doing the basic things, like practicing catching the ball.

The wind was a problem (at Louisville), as was the sun. We have had problems this year, and Hogan and Sanders haven’t done as good of a job as I hoped they would. They can still do better.

(Hogan) is averaging about eight to nine yards a return, but I’d like it to be higher. We just have to get better, but there’s a trust thing. I trust Brandon and Jock. I haven’t seen them be so blatantly bad that I’d have to sit them at this time.

We have guys catch every day, about five or six, and those are the two best.

on Pitt’s running backs Dion Lewis and Ray Graham
They’re fifth and seventh in the league, and if you put them together they’re No. 1. That’s 170 yards out of the tailback. That’s a problem. They can run a lot of plays, and it could bother us.

(Pitt) has improved every week. They’re getting better, and they’re a good football team. Its really going to be a battle.

on Pitt’s defensive line
They are playing really aggressive. You have two great ends on the outside and tough guys in the middle. Then you have three big backers. It’s like a baseball team – they’re strong in the middle. The offensive line is the same way.

They have talent, and it’s going to be explosive.

on Jon Baldwin’s near-miss block on Bitancurt’s game-winning kick in 2009
It was within inches. He (Baldwin) jumped on it. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. If I had to do it again, I’d kick Tyler again.

on wearing the new Nike Combat uniforms
I want to be excited for the right reasons. It’s going to be very memorable and something these young men cherish their whole lives. Back in the day, I didn’t have a leather helmet, but it wasn’t far off!

I don’t want to downplay the excitement, but the meaning behind the uniforms has me all excited. It’s speaks to who we are as West Virginians. If you are a West Virginian, and that uniform does not crank you up, then there’s something wrong.

I’m an Old Gold and Blue guy, believe me, but that uniform is us –that’s who we are. It’s another notch. We’re going out on the field and representing the people of this great state in a uniform that means a lot to our players. Our players have bought into them and are excited. We feel very honored to be one of the 10 schools that this has been done for, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that we can represent them as best we can for the people of West Virginia.

on Pitt’s four-man front and blitz packages
I see them coming! They aren’t a blitzing team, but they’ll come. I’ve seen a lot this year. There will be some wrinkles, and we expect it, but this game is going to be out there in the open. It’s Pitt.

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