“I felt like our football team has worked very hard and I am really proud of them,” said Stewart. “I told them that after the scrimmage, there is a survivor mode, and a get-better mode. I really feel that our guys took the get-better mode and I am pleased with that. We had a 90-plus play scrimmage today. You saw a lot of movement and competition out there. There are also positives to build on. The positive thing is that they are still in this state of hitting. We haven’t talked about hitting, but this has been a very physical camp. Now we have time for our bodies to heal. The foundation is in – it was set these last two weeks. They had 18 practices. Most were grueling and most were tough. Even when we were in shorts and shoulder pads, they were tough. That is the Mountaineer way. That is the West Virginia way.”
Stewart is concerned about the start of classes on Monday and the effect that it will have on his team and in particular the freshmen. As Morgantown begins to fill up with students, new distractions will arise that weren’t an issue in the fall.
“I am a little worried about this football team right now because we have distractions coming on us,” admitted Stewart. “What does that mean? That means that you have 19-, 18- and even some 17-year old freshmen away from home for the first time. Now we have classes, advisors, dorms, eight o’clock classes and getting acclimated to Morgantown with 20,000 plus students to deal with. Those are all distractions.”
Although the players will be adding classes into their already busy schedules, Stewart says that the intensity and importance of practices will not die down.
“Competition is going to really pick up this week,” said Stewart. “I am going to find out who can do the mental part. I’ve seen who can do the physical part. Penalties like holding in the red zone. Unbelievable. I’m not pleased at all with that. Three holding penalties in the red zone takes you out of scoring range. Facemasks by a defensive player in the red zone, David Lockwood, Steve Dunlap or Jeff Casteel haven’t taught that. They did that because they were being lazy. I am going to find out who is mentally tough this week. Physically, we found out who is going to hit. Now I am going to find out who can conduct themselves in the Mountaineer manner.”
Jeff Braun suffered a neck stinger during V drills, and spent the rest of the practice with an ice bag on his neck. Stewart said he appeared to be o.k., but Braun was ruled out for the remainder of the day. That nixed plans to look at Braun at center, where he was replaced by Joey Madsen.
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Jonathan Scott, Pat Miller and Jerrard Hunter did not dress due the seemingly annual late review by the NCAA Clearinghouse, which did not receive some of their transcript information in time. Stewart said he did not anticipate any problems with their eligibility this year.
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Geno Smith was annointed the number two quarterback after spending the last week with that unit in practice.
“If we played today, Geno would be in the number two spot,” Stewart confirmed.