The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

September 8, 2009

WVU football

Stewart hoping for quicker start against ECU

MORGANTOWN — West Virginia truly had no reason to think that its game against East Carolina last season was going any other way other than 17 of the 19 all-time meetings had gone.

The Mountaineers, after all, were a Top 10 team (No. 8 in the AP poll).

Sure, ECU had beaten Virginia Tech a week earlier.

But WVU had Heisman Trophy quarterback Patrick White, fresh off a 5-touchdown performance against Villanova in its season-opener in 2008.

But a funny thing happened on the way to that 18th win against East Carolina.

The Pirates manhandled the Mountaineers 24-3.

And it was a more thorough beat-down than that final score suggested.

Bill Stewart was asked about the plane trip back to Morgantown at his weekly press conference Tuesday.

“I saw it on the field,” Stewart said. “I saw it from the get-go. They came out and took it to us. We weren’t pleased (with the outcome) and the players weren’t pleased. We learned that you have to block and tackle. It wasn’t a very nice trip home.”

Stewart said the loss was a learning experience, noting the team played a much better game the next week (in a loss at Colorado). From there, the Mountaineers took off, won nine games and beat North Carolina the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

“I’ve heard the old cliché that teams get better between games one and two,” Stewart said, noting how the Mountaineers improved after ECU and through the Colorado game. “(Last season) we got better all year. I just want to get better quicker this year. We’ll be ready to play.”

Stewart said he is impressed by sixth-year quarterback Patrick Pinkney (he received a medical redshirt) who completed 22-of-28 passing for 236 yards and a touchdown last year.

It was a far cry from 2007 when he was just 7-of-14 for 43 yards and an interception.

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