West Virginia Football: One Down, Three To Go, Can Bill Stewart Keep It Up?

Jeff Woollard@JeffWoollardCorrespondent IINovember 17, 2010

With Saturday’s win, the West Virginia University football team became bowl eligible for 2010. Further highlighting the win, the Mountaineer offense scored 37 points.

Bill Stewart’s self-evaluation of the team during the bye week appears to have remedied the scoring woes his team had displayed prior to the win against the University of Cincinnati. Those 37 points represent the fourth highest point total in Stewart’s tenure.

Since Bill Stewart’s first two games as head coach, both 48-point outbursts, the Mountaineer offense had only scored more points one time. That game was earlier this year against the University of Nevada Las Vegas, WVU scored 49.

For this week, Bill Stewart, offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen and offensive line coach Dave Johnson deserve credit for a job well done.

The list of Top 25 Team Defense shows all of WVU’s remaining opponents.

WVU’s three remaining opponents are the Louisville Cardinals (15), the Pittsburgh Panthers (12) and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (25).

WVU will face two of those defenses on the road. Bill Stewart’s road record as head coach is an unsettling 5-8.

Louisiana State (5) and Syracuse (9) are two other opponents from the list that WVU faced this year, and the Mountaineers lost both games.

WVU’s own defense (4) has been a pillar of consistency all year. Expecting the defense to continue the trend is an easy conclusion to reach.

Bilal Powell enters Saturday’s contest averaging 6.6 yards per carry on the season for Louisville; Powell has rushed for 1,207 yards on the season.

It is easy to speculate that Louisville will test the Mountaineer defense with Powell. WVU’s seventh ranked rush defense will be ready for the test.

Consistency has been the underlying concern by Mountaineer Nation regarding the offense. Asking the offense to find its consistency against three of the best defenses on the schedule may be expecting too much.

Perhaps a healthy dose of the suddenly deep WVU backfield will pay dividends for the Mountaineers. WVU has rushed for 254 and 245 yards in its previous two games.

Ball security will no doubt play a large part in the outcome of the remaining games. Obviously, coaches do not fumble footballs or throw interceptions. The players under their charge can, and for the Mountaineers have.

The rankings for turnover margin in the FBS show WVU (83) consistently lacking. Louisville (t-52) along with Pitt (44) and Rutgers (13) has done a better job than Stewart’s team.

WVU maintains an outside shot at the Big East football title for 2010. How the offense performs over the next three games will define the season.

Crystallizing the unrest Mountaineer fans have displayed this season, with two Big East games already in the loss column, any further stumbles would be catastrophic to those title hopes.

Stewart and his staff have rallied the troops for one game.

In his post-game press conference, Stewart was noticeably irritated with WVU‘s failure to score a touchdown on 4thand-goal. Stewart’s team was leading 37-10 at the time.

“I wanted to score that 44th point, I am disappointed and very agitated that we could not score from the one foot line,” Stewart stated. He added, “That was my only disappointment of the day.”

Earlier in the year, Stewart was widely quoted as not believing in “style points.” Apparently, that belief was part of the re-evaluation process. Stewart has decided that “style points” are important.

Hope—a Mountaineer fan cannot ask for more.


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