The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

November 2, 2010

Stewart deflecting any hint of pressure during skid

MORGANTOWN — If West Virginia coach Bill Stewart is feeling the heat, he’s trying not to show it.

Stewart was asked about dealing with the pressure following back-to-back losses to Syracuse (19-14) and Connecticut (16-13 in overtime) the last two weeks.

“I haven’t noticed it, so it must not bother me,” Stewart said. “I have pretty thick skin.”

Which would be a necessity these days for the Mountaineers head coach.

That said, Stewart did say he was concerned about the two losses to teams the Mountaineers were heavily favored to beat.

The Mountaineers are off this week before returning home to host Cincinnati Nov. 13 at noon, affording the coach time to “self-analyze” the program.

“With some time this week we have been doing a total self-evaluation of the program on all phases, from me, to the assistants, to the players,” Stewart said. “We are looking at what we have done well, what we have done OK and what we have not done well.

“There is no ‘I’ in team. At the top of the line of that team, is the coach — that is me. I need to do a better job. I need to do a better job with the coaches. I met with the coaches this morning, and (offensive coordinator) Jeff Mullen and I grilled each other about every play and looked at every player. We looked at the plays and asked if the players could do certain plays.”

Stewart said he plans to have a similar meeting with defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.

“Let me assure you, I am not a finger pointer,” Stewart said. “I am not blaming these players. I have been a player and let me tell you about being one. If you are supposed to make a block — make it to the best of your ability. If you are supposed to hang onto the ball — do it to the best of your ability. If you are supposed to be somewhere in a formation — do the best you can.

“If someone thinks that I have been pointing my fingers at these players — that is wrong. We start with Bill Stewart and the coaches.”

Stewart was asked about recruiting coming off a two-game losing streak.

“There are two ways to do that,” Stewart said. “First of all, you could say (to the parents), ‘That is why we need your son.’ I don’t think our guys will say that, because they are classy guys. But really what you say is that, ‘Big East play is a black-and-blue league.’”

Stewart was not happy with the play of the offense overall, the offensive line, formations and motions, pass protection and turnovers.

And he reiterated that Ryan Clarke, who fumbled at the goal line against Connecticut, is still in the backfield mix.

“Noel Devine and Ryan Clarke will play,” Stewart said. “I am going to put the ball into his (Clarke’s) hands and make him run through the gauntlet (turnover drill in practice). I am not blaming that loss on Ryan Clarke. No way was it his fault.”

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