Stewart, the Mountaineers’ third-year head coach, said that Hogan’s suspension was the result of “breaking a team rule.”
“I, and I alone, will handle the discipline and the punishment in a fair, firm and strict manner,” Stewart said. “He will rejoin the Mountaineer team when I deem fit.
“It’s a tremendous privilege and honor, not a right, to play, coach or be with the old gold and blue. In my way of thinking, that privilege has to be earned.”
The head coach said he would “keep [media] updated” and that reporters would be informed if and when Hogan’s status with the team changes. Pressed for a bit more information, Stewart did concede that the suspension would at least cover this weekend’s game, but the head coach would divulge no further details.
As for what that means for the West Virginia depth chart against the Terrapins this weekend, a three-way battle between Brantwon Bowser, Brodrick Jenkins and Pat Miller will ensue for the starting cornerback spot vacated by Hogan.
“It’ll be up to [cornerbacks] Coach [David] Lockwood and the defensive staff, and I know all three of them are going to be looked at today for sure,” Stewart said. “Maybe even somebody else can get a look back there.”
Hogan is also one of two starting punt returners, along with receiver Jock Sanders. Sanders may get the entirety of the action at that spot this week, but the Mountaineers’ head coach indicated that wide receivers Tavon Austin and J.D. Woods might also have the chance to show their skills as punt returners this week.
But those were only a couple of the concerns Stewart professed to have heading into Saturday’s game against Maryland.
The Terrapins (2-0) come into this weekend’s clash of border state foes sporting wins over Navy (17-14) and Morgan State (62-3). It is the first time Ralph Friedgen’s squad has won back-to-back games since 2008.
Offensively, Maryland has found success with a pair of quarterbacks, Jamaar Robinson and Danny O’Brien. Robinson, a junior, is technically the starter, and he threw a pair of first quarter touchdowns against Morgan State before yielding to O’Brien, who tossed three more.
“Both [quarterbacks] are doing a great job, guys,” Stewart said. “You put the film on and you go, ‘Wow.’ Plus, the running game has me worried sick. They are just gashing people.”
Indeed, Robinson is a dual threat, who added another 36 yards on the ground in his limited action against the Bears and had a long run of 31 yards.
Add in the running of talented tailbacks Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett (who averaged 13.1 yards per carry against Navy), and Stewart said he expected big things from the rebuilt Terrapins’ attack.
“I see guys on their two-deep that are good football players, not just at the quarterback position,” said the WVU head coach. “Their running backs are two dandies. They’re big on the line. [They have] a nice tight end.
“Their system and formula is working. Our defense is going to have their [sic] hands full.”
Stewart was vague when asked about the status of injured linebacker Pat Lazear, who was held out of both of the Mountaineers’ first two games of the season with a bone bruise in one of his legs sustained after being “leg-whipped” in preseason practice.
“Pat is not fully recovered yet from that bone bruise,” the head coach said. “We’ll know more on him [later this week]. He’s running. He ran yesterday. I just can’t say he’s going to play this week.”
Asked about the struggles of his offensive line, which surrendered three sacks in a 24-21 overtime win against Marshall last Friday night, Stewart said he had seen improvement in practice from the front five throughout the early part of the season.
“They’ve not played as poor [as people think],” Stewart said. “We were over 400 yards of offense [in each of the first two games of the season]. The quarterback didn’t get a glove laid on him in two, 90-plus-yard drives in a hostile environment [at Marshall].
“I don’t think they’re the seven blocks of granite at this point, but they’re a work in progress. They didn’t fumble the ball. So [blame] all goes around. I don’t let one section get finger-pointed. I talk to this whole football team as a family.”
Stewart said he has been particularly impressed with how the offensive line has improved in terms of pass blocking, and said Marshall’s defensive line was better than some realized.
“If there’s a better defensive line in Conference USA, I haven’t seen it,” he said. “They’ve got the best players in their league.”
Maryland and WVU are just coming off a two-year hiatus from what had been an annual rivalry game since 1980. But there should be plenty of familiarity between the coaching staffs and players.
Stewart said he has “known about five or six of [the Terrapins’] coaches” for his entire coaching career. He replaced current Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen as the offensive line coach at William and Mary in 1981.
But those relationships pale in comparison to that of two brothers who will stand on opposite sidelines Saturday. Terps defensive end Drew Gloster was recruited by Stewart to West Virginia before deciding to play for Friedgen, while Stewart was able to convince Troy Gloster, a true freshman, to come to Morgantown.
“I think that’s neat,” Stewart said. “God bless their mom and dad. I don’t know how they’ll dress this year.”