The following is a transcription of that teleconference:
WEST VIRGINIA HEAD COACH BILL STEWART: “Well, we came out with a win, which was important. We needed a barometer to see where our football team was and there were some good things and some not good things, as every first game indicates just about yearly. This year is no different.”
“We were happy with the win. We’ll never look down on any kind of win in any way. But we need to do some things better, and the people that see our film will know that right from the get-go. I thought we played hard. We had some trouble showing up at noon in the past, and I thought we played hard and we showed up.”
“I don’t know how smart we played or how impressed we were until those guys from Liberty started hitting us and we found out those guys are pretty good football players. They were 10-2 last year, and I’m hoping they’ll be that or better this year. They’re a good team.”
“This week we have a tough, very physical East Carolina team coming in here that beat us 24-3 last year. I don’t have to say anything to all the players. They know what’s on the table. We just have to get better from week one to week two, and we’ll go from there.”
QUESTION: With the revenge factor in play after last year’s loss at East Carolina, how do you avoid having your team get too amped up, like what happened in the Oregon-Boise State game?
STEWART: “Well this is game two. We have a very simple philosophy here in Morgantown and at West Virginia University, and that’s ‘Respect all, fear none.’ Last year I don’t think we respected them early and I think we found out you had better respect all opponents.”
“But I don’t ever anticipate or even fathom having some kind of Boise State-Oregon fiasco, because there’s too much discipline in this program. I would be shocked if that ever happened here.”
QUESTION: Not so much the punching incident from that game, but the sloppy play. How do you avoid getting guys so amped up that they play sloppy?
STEWART: “Well, we’ve just got to play football. I’m not going to make a big deal out of last year. I don’t live my life (in the past) but I’m sure that 24-3 thrashing we took was embarrassing. It was a hard lesson for young people to learn, but it showed our football team that we have to do more than just throw on the Old Gold and Blue.”
QUESTION: After the first game, how did you feel that Jarrett Brown did as he stepped into his new role as the starting quarterback?
STEWART: “I was pleased with his decision making. I was very pleased with how he managed the chains and didn’t turn the ball over. He made some very nice second and third reads for that early in the year. Patrick got to do that later in the year last season.”
“I was really pleased with how he played. I only had to get after him one time. I coached him many years ago as his position coach. I said, ‘Set your feet. Quit throwing off your back foot or you’re going to get in trouble.’ He said, ‘I know,’ and I said, ‘Okay, just set your feet and tuck the ball. The punt is not a bad play. You do not have to complete every single pass. If you don’t feel good, find a check-down. If you can’t find a check-down, get down and we’ll punt the ball.’”
QUESTION: Having to replace a player like Pat White, how has Jarrett handled that? Has it been a distraction, or has it been a motivating factor?
STEWART: “I believe he has handled it very well. He knows he’s not Patrick White, but he knows he is Jarrett Brown. He brings a lot of intangibles to the table.”
“That being said, I just want him to take care of our offense. This is 2009. The ’08 season is over. That’s what he’s done. He’s done a very admirable job of being his own man and being his own type of leader.”
QUESTION: There’s so much said about teams making their biggest improvements between game one and game two. How important is that and how true is it?
STEWART: “I really believe you get better all year. Last year we got better between games two and three, and got worse between games one and two, but I think that had to do all with the neck up.”
“You get better as you play. We started off the year 1-2. Everybody knows that. But I think we could have won that third game. We had no chance last year against East Carolina -- none -- with the way we played. I got out-coached and we got outplayed. It’s as simple as that.”
“But game three, we had a heartbreaking loss, but we got better as a football team. Then we got better in games four, five, six and seven. We lost a tough overtime game to Cincinnati, the league champion. We lost a heartbreaker in the Backyard Brawl to Pitt.”
“We lost to two fine bowl teams last year. People think we just got beat -- we ended up 9-4, so we got better. I think you get better all the way through, not just from game one to two.”
QUESTION: What did you see from your defense against Liberty?
STEWART: “I just saw No. 10, Mike Brown, who I probably should have recruited -- I knew about him in high school -- I just saw it was like a junior high game. I knew who was going to catch the ball.”
“When I saw he was outside, I thought I knew what he was going to do -- catch hitches and slants, or go inside and run crossing routes. I don’t know why that was so hard. We let the guy get across the field. One time, J.T. Thomas whacked him pretty good on a legal hit. That’s what you have to do when they start those crossing routes. I understand that.”
“So I’m frustrated with some of it. I’m never happy. But as I said to you all after the game, I’m never going to look down on a win. Geez, oh man, that’s why we’re in this business. But we need to get better. Quickly.”
QUESTION: Do you have any updates on the injuries to Wes Lyons and Sidney Glover?
STEWART: “Wes was okay and could have played. He stretched down to catch a low ball from Jarrett, and caught it well. I saw where he pulled it on the film. It’s a slight pull. He ran down the sidelines about eight or 10 more yards. He’s fine and could have played. I did not let him play. I pulled him.”
“Sidney Glover’s not injured. I pulled Sidney Glover because he didn’t practice. When you practice, you will play. When you don’t practice, you will not play. That’s not just with Sidney. I said that yesterday. That’s my rule. If you practice, you play. If you don’t practice, you will not play.”
QUESTION: Were you pleased with your team’s conditioning in the fourth quarter?
STEWART: “I thought we were in pretty good shape. We kept coming after them. We have a thing here where sprint from ball to ball when the quarter changes. I thought we did a nice job.”