West Virginia Loses To Auburn: Have Faith, Stew

Tim McGheeCorrespondent IIISeptember 22, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 27:  Head coach Bill Stewart of the West Virginia Mountaineers looks at the scoreboard during their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Bank of America Stadium on December 27, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The head football coach for the West Virginia University Mountaineers, Bill Stewart (pictured), is a man of strong Roman Catholic faith, character, and heart. Always optimistic with enough of a touch of realism, he every chance he gets compliments his players, his coaches, opponents' players and coaches, players and coaches of other sports, the fans, the interviewer, ...

He even compliments the nurses in the Ruby Memorial pediatric ICU, as reported to me by my daughter who was one of those nurses on duty during a recent visit by the coach.

If I had a son who wanted to play college football on the FBS level, I'd want him to play for Stew.

However, I am a proud father of two very talented daughters, the nurse and a dancer.  Despite each possessing the demeanor, they don't play football. 

What I am also is a citizen sportswriter for Bleacher Report.  It is my job to discuss how a football team of talented athletes can rake in over 500 yards offense yet turn the ball over six times and lose the game.

Conclusion? Too much adult interference. No faith in the youngsters.

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It is a coach's duty to place the best athletes on the field and put them in the position so they can go for the win. If you had to describe the job of a coach in one sentence, that would be it.

That happened in the first 50 or so minutes of Saturday night's game at Auburn, then for some inexplicable reason, it didn't happen.  The sit-on-the-lead strategy took precedent.

West Virginia's offense and defense were each manned by a squad of risk takers flying around making play after play. And, in spite of the offense stopping itself and the defense being backed in a corner, the Mountaineers got the important 30 points. 

That particular number is essential because West Virginia is 60-1 in games in which they score 30 or over.

Well, make that 60-2.

Here's how to avoid 60-3:

WVU quarterback Jarrett Brown is a mix of the scrambler Vince Young, the leader Roger Staubach, and the swashbuckler Joe Namath and Brett Favre.  If I were a coach, I'd wind Jarrett up and turn him loose running and gunning, then ask questions later. 

Jarrett's going to drop a few more balls this season and throw a few more passes in the hands of the guys wearing different colored jerseys.  But, the good Jarrett will greatly outperform the bad Jarrett if you let him go.

In addition, coach Stewart, take the heat off Jarrett and hand the ball to Noel Devine - a lot.  "Hand" is the operative word because there is no reason to subject him to the middle screen any more, especially since Auburn has clued WVU's future opponents on how to stop it.

Late in the Auburn game, it looked as if the coaches were using Noel as a decoy. Come on. The speedy little guy can't gain his six yards a carry just standing there. Give him the mail and let him deliver.

It is evident by the tremendous amount of yardage gained that West Virginia's offensive line is tanned, rested, and ready. Despite the late game fiasco, Jarrett was sacked only once as Noel saw daylight whenever he ran the ball, with "ran" being the next operative word and "whenever" not far behind.

The future of Mountaineer football is definitely bright, this season and the next.  The coaches have a team of scoring machines and are deep with hard-hitting stoppers.  However, it is obvious that Stewball is also Newball in that the adults are on a steep learning curve.  They'll grow out of that.  The sooner, the better.

My suggestion is to line the players up and let them go for it. Don't ever play to not lose because West Virginia has a tremendous opportunity here. No Big East team is playing the all-out style the Mountaineers are producing now. It may be scary, but you're lucky.  That's the full house aces over kings hand you've been dealt in 2009.

Now is the time to make history. You'll get that 11-1 and who knows? Maybe the BCS will turn screwy again like it did in 2007 and you'll end up in Pasadena for the final game of the college football season.

That would be fun.