The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 1, 2010

WVU coach kicking self, not kicking game

In the wake of West Virginia’s 20-14 loss at LSU last Saturday, Mountaineer coach Bill Stewart was kicking himself.

“I am still having a hard time letting the game against LSU go and it is time to let it go because it is a few hours past the loss,” he said earlier this week. “That ball game is behind us.

“I am really pleased and really proud of the effort and the intensity that the Mountaineers gave.”

While kicking himself, he wasn’t ready to give the WVU kicking game the boot, although kicker Tyler Bitancurt had a first-quarter kick blocked (the second time that’s happened this year, the other being at Marshall) and missed a 49-yarder in the second half.

“Both kicks that were blocked this season have been low from what I saw, and then Tyler just missed the last one,” Stewart said. “They compete every day, but I am going to continue to watch Bitancurt. Right now he is still the incumbent.”

He gave Bitancurt a vote of confidence Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

“He has made so many big ones in the past that missing a few now is not worrying me so much right now,” Stewart said. “I will talk to him about it. I don’t want to put a bad seed in his head. I am sure that he will get it worked out and make some big kicks before the year is out.”

Last season, Bitancurt kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired to beat Pitt 19-16.

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Noel Devine had one of his worst games with 33 yards against a staunch LSU defense, but, as most know, he was hurt early in that contest.

“He came back in the game and ran tough,” Stewart said. “He was hurting really bad at halftime.”

With the Mountaineers off this weekend, Stewart expects Devine to be back next week in a 3:30 p.m. home game against UNLV.

“The good thing is that we don’t play this weekend and we are off till next Saturday, and by that time I know he will be fine,” Stewart said. “He will practice as normal.”

So there is no contingency plan.

“I don’t think that his injury is so severe that we have to have an emergency plan, but if something were to happen, we have Ryan Clarke and there is always Trey Johnson and Shawne Alston,” Stewart said.

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Stewart also expects offensive guard Josh Jenkins to be ready for the game.

But he won’t rush things with Big East play to begin the following Thursday night against South Florida.

“I am expecting him to be ready for our next game,” Stewart said. “I never want to overlook an opponent, but I really want him ready for the USF game. That is the first Big East game and that is when I would like to have all of our starters back.”

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Stewart said the 60-yard punt return for a touchdown by LSU’s Patrick Peterson wasn’t exactly a special teams breakdown, per se.

But he wasn’t real happy about the special teams play.

“The first punt, that guy was just faster than our guys. I don’t have anyone faster than him,” the coach said. “The other punt return, we had a guard get out of his lane. Kickoff return did an average job.”

———

The break in the schedule seems like it’s coming at a good time for the Mountaineers.

“I think having a week off helps teams like us because it gives us a chance to work on school and heal wounds,” Stewart said. “Our guys like to play, but we got in at 6 a.m. and losing that night of sleep throws you off track. It is going to be a long 10 days because our guys want to play football.”

— E-mail: demorrison@register-herald.com

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