MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University football coach Bill Stewart said he was pleased with the mental approach taken by his players in the week leading up to and in the victory over Cincinnati.
"We played fast, and we played hard, but we really played mentally sharp," Stewart said during his Sunday press conference. "We took care of the ball, and we were smart with what we were doing I thought it was a good mental game, as well as physical."
Stewart said his team must stay on that keel as it prepares for Louisville on Saturday, a game that will be played on the road at noon. The game will be televised on the Big East Conference Network.
TOUGH?YARDS?— West Virginia’s Noel Devine picks up yardage as a Cincinnati defender makes the tackle Saturday in Big East Conference action at Mountaineer Field. (CU and The Inter-Mountain/Andrew Davis)
"The question is, can these young men continually do it over and over again?" Stewart asked. "Can you do it at home? Can you do it on the road? Can you do it after a win? I knew we would fight back, but these guys need to prepare for Louisville or prepare to get their butts handed to them like UConn and Syracuse did."
Louisville, 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big East Conference, lost by a field goal in overtime to South Florida. Stewart said his team needs to continue to play with intelligence if it is to continue on its quest for a possible conference championship. WVU, 6-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference, still has an outside shot at the Big East title, but will need to win out and possibly receive some help from other teams in other games.
"We have to refine it, get it better, believe in the system and be sharp," he said. "If we play smart football, we usually come out pretty good in games we play. We went down to Louisville two years ago, and that was a tough win for us. It's the same thing (this year), so we're going to find out how mature this football team is."
Stewart also heaped praise on Shawne Alston, who filled in admirably for an ailing Noel Devine. Devine had been battling an illness the past week, and Stewart was not sure until game time if Devine would even be able to play.
"We just ran Shawne all week because we knew that he was a guy that would come out and do some good things," Stewart said. "This was an opportunity that presented itself, and Shawne definitely made the most of it.
"He brings some more flavor and variation to our offense," the coach continued.
"He really opens up vision for us because he's still a big, powerful back. It really gives us some good options."