It seems you just never know what you're going to get from West Virginia University coach Bill Stewart from one week to the next. Through five games this season, Stewart has proved that you can expect the unexpected when it comes to making decisions from the sidelines. Some have been in the Mountaineers' favor, some have not.
But the one thing you can guarantee is that opposing coaches will definitely have more to think about when it comes to preparing for West Virginia and its new ball coach.
The cards definitely played into Stewart's hand on the fake punt in the third quarter that helped set up a crucial touchdown, giving the Mountaineers the momentum back after Rutgers had just scored before the end of the first half "Sometimes you get a feel, I can't tell you why and I can't tell if I'll ever get it again. But I can tell you I got it and lived with it," he said of the fake that saw Zac Cooper scamper for an 18-yard gain. "It's not about guts and it's not about taking a chance. If I want to take a chance I'll get out there at the 7-11 at Lakeview and buy me a lotto ticket, that's a chance. "It was a calculated risk that we practice all the time, that's why I called it. And I will call it again if the situation is right. It was a big-time swing in momentum, but Zach Cooper should have scored, I was on his butt for that."
Two more questionable calls didn't go in the Mountaineers' favor, however. The first came at the end of the half when a squib kick gave the Scarlet Knights good field position and eventually led to seven points.
"I will always squib the ball or sky the ball, I will never kick the ball deep and let them take it back with under a minute to go," Stewart said. "So that's why I did what I did."
The second came with two minutes left in regulation and WVU holding to a 24-17 lead. The Mountaineers had a chance to end the game with a first down on fourth-and-inches, but Jared Brown came up short on a quarterback keeper, giving the ball back to Rutgers at midfield.
"We were trying to find a way to win the ballgame," Stewart said. "I will never play not to lose. That's why I went for it on fourth down, I didn't play to lose."
When asked why he didn't considered putting Brown up under center, instead of in the shotgun formation for the keeper play he said, "because it got got stuffed at Colorado, I didn't like that play."
Stewart was pleased with the overall effort and especially happy with the offense's work on third downs.
"It was tremendous win for the Mountaineers," he said. "It was a heck of a football game. The stats look pretty well balanced to me. I was pleased on the third downs, except for a couple of them got us. We were 8-of-16 and that was good. We're doing a better job on third downs and Jared Brown was in there early and did a tremendous job. We were in the red zone three times and scored three times, that's good stuff, I like that."
He was also admittedly pleased with the way the defense performed for a second straight contest. WVU has held its last two opponents to under 300 yards total offense.
"I thought our defense played very, very hard, all but for about a drive and half," said Stewart. "Defense did a really nice job, made Rutgers punt seven times and held them to five first downs out of 15. On that drive just before the half, we were not jamming routes and we wasn't getting enough underneath coverage to jam them, but we got it together."
When asked about the status of quarterback Pat White, who suffered an injury in the second half, Stewart replied: "I don't know. He got dinged up, don't really no yet, but I think he's fine."
Also on the injury front, starting linebacker Reed Williams didn't dress for the game. Stewart really didn't go into the detail about the injury but said, "I didn't play him. If I wouldn't play my son, I wouldn't play Reed Williams. I'm not going to play anybody that can't protect themselves. I will never play anybody that I don't think is in good enough physical shape to protect themselves on the field and play at full speed. It's a fast, fast violent game and I won't do it."
Stewart said he would have like to have gone to the air a little more in the win, but was pleased with the balanced attack on offense. The Mountaineers had 175 yards rushing and 158 passing for 333 yards total offense.
"I wish we could have thrown the ball a little bit more," said Stewart. "I wanted to pass the ball a little more but they confused us early, not a whole lot though, because we were 14-of-19. So we know what we're doing and we're trying to stay balanced."