The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

October 5, 2010

Devine will play, but how much?

Stewart wants to use senior running back ‘enough to win game’ vs. UNLV

MORGANTOWN — All things considered, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart expects senior running back Noel Devine to play Saturday afternoon against UNLV.

The Mountaineers and Rebels kickoff at 3:30 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium. The game will be televised locally by WOAY-TV.

“He’s doing a lot better,” Stewart said on his weekly teleconference Monday. “He wants to get healthy. He bounced around a little bit (in practice last week) but he didn’t do as much as we wanted.”

Devine was injured early and, although he returned, he was ineffective, with 14 carries for 37 yards.

Stewart reiterated that Devine’s injury, suffered in the Mountaineers’ 20-14 loss to LSU, was not turf toe but it is a bruise.

“It’s not a muscle or flesh, so it might take a while to heal, but I really anticipate him playing, and playing a lot,” Stewart said.

How much likely will be determined by how the game goes, with UNLV a prohibitive underdog and the fact that WVU (3-1) opens conference play five days later in a Thursday night clash with South Florida in Morgantown.

“We’re going to run him enough to win the game,” Stewart said. “We want to win the game as convincingly as we can, but (with the fact that conference play begins a week from Thursday) we’ll try to get him out as quickly as time allows.”

But if Devine can’t go?

Last week after the loss to LSU, Stewart said there was no contingency plan, because he believed that Devine would play against UNLV.

First off, he said moving one of his slot receivers (either Jock Sanders, as he did last year against Louisville, or Tavon Austin, a high school running back) hadn’t been done. Yet.

“In film (study) last night, I mentioned that as a possibility, having (Nos.) 1 (Austin) and 9 (Sanders) ready,” Stewart said. “But Trey Johnson (a 5-foot10, 172-pound freshman from Richmond, Va.) practiced well, as did Shawne Austin (5-11, 222-pound sophomore from Hampton, Va.), Ryan Clarke and (fullback) Matt Lindamood, back there blocking.

“To bring Tavon or Jock (to the backfield) wouldn’t be something out of the ordinary, but as of right now, we have not moved 1 or 9 back there.”

Sanders spelled Devine last year in a 17-9 win over Louisville and did the heavy lifting with 12 carries for 66 yards.

Stewart was also asked if the Mountaineers’ bye week would have been better timed had it been this week, what with the Big East Conference season opener five days after UNLV.

“I don’t know why (it lined up as it did), but we just take our marching orders and do it,” Stewart said. “It’s controlled by TV. It would have been nice to have it before the first conference game.

“Look, we just need to play. After a loss (two weeks) seems like an eternity. If the fans think it’s tough for them, it’s very tough for me and for this staff and the players. We want to make amends, if that makes any sense. We just want to get out there and play.”

Stewart said he anticipates defensive end Julian Miller being able to play and a decision on offensive guard Josh Jenkins, who missed the LSU game, will be made in practice this week, possibly by Thursday, depending on how he practices this week. Tight end Tyler Urban is also expected to see action.

 — E-mail: demorrison@

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