By Dave Morrison
Bill Stewart makes no bones about it.
“We have a pretty simple philosophy here,” Stewart said. “Respect all, fear none. I don’t think we respected East Carolina early on.
“We went down there, and I believe we thought all we had to do was wear the Old Gold and Blue. (Linebacker) J.T. Thomas said it best after the game, ‘They whacked us.’ They flat out out-toughed us.”
That 24-3 thrashing made an impression.
“I don’t look at it as revenge,” Thomas said. “I like to think we try to win every game. But we know who’s next on the schedule. And we remember what happened.”
If revenge is a factor, it will be played out when East Carolina visits Milan Puskar Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
So Stewart won’t have to dig deep for any inspirational message to his players.
“I don’t have to tell our players anything; they remember what happened last year,” Stewart said. “If I bring that up, it’s only to say this: We got our post up very abruptly. When we found out that you have to go out there and play, block and tackle, and that No. 5 (Patrick White) wasn’t going to save the day, then we found out that we had to go play every game.
“We got better at Colorado (the following week), and we rolled from there. That game (ECU) woke us up. It was a terrible wake-up call, but ECU whipped us, physically and mentally. Convincingly.”
Stewart said the Mountaineers were “out-coached and out-played.”
On the injury front, Stewart said the Mountaineers came out of Saturday’s 33-20 win over Liberty in pretty good shape.
Wes Lyons “could have gone back in” after suffering a hamstring pull and would be available to play Saturday. And safety Nate Sowers, who suffered a minor knee injury, should be a go.
Sidney Glover is a different story.
He didn’t play Saturday because Stewart didn’t let him.
“We have a rule, if you practice (hard) you play,” Stewart said. “If you don’t practice (hard), you don’t play.”
Stewart obviously hasn’t been pleased with Glover’s practice.
“That was my call,” Stewart said. “It wasn’t because of injury. He hasn’t practiced well enough or long enough to be on the traveling team. I’m going to play the guys who go out and sweat. The guys that give effort in practice, and we know what they can do, will play. If Sidney continues to practice like he has, then he’ll play this week. But up until last week, he hadn’t practiced. You just can’t practice Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and say you’re ready to play. Maybe it is that way some places, or that was the way it was here before, but I’m not doing that.”
Stewart said he was pleased with the kickoff coverage against Liberty — porous at best early — after some personnel changes.
“I put (fullback) Ryan Clarke in there and he did a nice job,” Stewart said. “He went down there and really whacked some guys. We put (freshman back) Shawne Alston, and he went down there and did a nice job. Then (Scott native) Jordan Roberts went down there and created havoc.”
Eddie Davis also subbed for the injured Sowers and did a good job, Stewart said.