While Brown continues to recuperate from the concussion he sustained against Marshall, true freshman Geno Smith will continue to work with the first team offense in practice. Coley White will take reps with the second-team unit.
Both of those moves are hardly surprising, but Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart said he is making additional moves to ensure that there is still further depth at the quarterback spot.
Stewart said that he and his staff would be working to put a plan in place for wide receiver Bradley Starks to be prepared should he need to step in as a signal-caller for Saturday’s game against UConn.
All of this planning may go for naught, as the second-year coach did not completely rule out the possibility of Brown, who is officially “day-to-day,” playing this weekend.
“I don’t know that Jarrett won’t play, but I don’t know that he will,” Stewart said during the Big East Conference coaches’ teleconference Monday. “It’s more my opinion that he won’t than that he will. I’m not trying to hide or sugar-coat anything.”
With Brown held out of practice Sunday (despite the fact that West Virginia players only donned “helmets and vests,” in Stewart’s parlance, which he equated to a practice in sweats) and not looking likely to get back to work when the team resumes its sessions on Tuesday, the coach seemed pessimistic about the senior QB’s chances of playing.
“He’s got to practice,” Stewart said, noting that he felt that is Brown did not practice by Wednesday that he would not be adequately prepared to play on Saturday.
“This game is too fast. This Big East football is as good as it gets. If you don’t practice, it’s very, very difficult to play.”
Stewart did not offer any further timetables on the potential return of defensive lineman Scooter Berry, who was leg-whipped during the 24-7 win over Marshall and is now dealing with pain in his leg only weeks after working to recuperate from a shoulder issue.
The head coach did say that Berry “couldn’t hardly do anything” during practice on Sunday.
Stewart said he would spend part of his Tuesday afternoon press conference further addressing what the WVU administration will do to honor the memory of UConn cornerback Jasper Howard during the game on Saturday.
Howard was stabbed to death in the overnight hours of Sunday morning in the midst of an altercation that occurred after a fire alarm was pulled at a dance at the school’s student union. The incident occurred only hours after he had figured prominently into the Huskies’ victory over Louisville.
While Stewart said that both administrations did talk about the possibility of canceling the game, it quickly became clear that the game would go on as scheduled. The WVU coach said he and Huskies’ head coach Randy Edsall had left messages for each other but been unable to speak as of Monday morning.
Stewart said he had addressed the situation with his team during its meeting before practice on Sunday.
“The youngsters from the Miami area (where Howard and his family are from) knew him and took it very, very hard,” Stewart said. “Our guys were quite shaken. They really liked that young man immensely.”
The Mountaineers’ head coach, who doubles as the team’s special teams coordinator, said that planning to stop Howard a year ago, when he led the Big East in punt returns, was a difficult task.
“The way he played was I’m sure the way he lived his life -- full speed, a lot of fun and a lot of energy,” Stewart said. “Every time we punted the ball, I had my fingers crossed. He led the Big East because he was good, not because he was lucky. He was a real joy to watch play. He played the game like it’s supposed to be played.”
As for the Connecticut team his squad will face Saturday, Stewart said that what he had seen on film thus far suggested that it would be a quality opponent.
“They’re a very sound football team coached by an excellent coach and staff,” he said. “It’s a team that’s going through some tough times. I’m sure it will be an emotional game for the University of Connecticut and for college football as well.”