Penalties Draw Stewart’s Ire
MORGANTOWN – There’s a fine line between a 15-yard personal foul penalty for hitting a defenseless player and, um, nothing.
West Virginia crossed it twice Saturday in a 49-10 victory against UNLV at Mountaineer Field.
Naturally, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart didn’t like it, and he let his guys know that his teams won’t play the game like that.
“Mountaineer football is going to play hard, Mountaineer football is going to play physical, and Mountaineer football is going to play rough and tough,” he said. “We will not play cheap or dirty.
“We had a family discussion and there was one speaker – dad – or granddad. It went very well, went the way I wanted it too. That discussion is over. Hopefully we won’t have any more penalties.”
The calls in question came during a fourth-quarter drive in which the Mountaineers had three personal fouls go against them, including two for hitting a defenseless player.
The NCAA thought it did a good job of getting the word out with this new penalty, often referred to as the “safety rule.”
Here it is: “A “defenseless player” will be defined as a QB in the act of passing, A WR in the act of making a catch, a kick or punt returner in the act of making a catch, a runner who is in the grass or whose forward progress has been stopped, a player on the ground at the end of the play, a QB after a change of possession, and a kicker or punter after the ball is kicked. Violations will result in a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty.
Travis Bell and Eain Smith were both flagged for such hits on the drive, which resulted in UNLV’s lone touchdown.
“The officials came down and addressed it with our kids,” WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel said. “We’ll look at the film and show the kids this is what you can and can’t do.”
Casteel understands how tough it must be to give up on a play rather than lower the boom, but the rules are rules.
“It’s called a penalty, so we have to make sure the kids know,” he said.
West Virginia running back Noel Devine carried the ball just three times Saturday, but he averaged 28 yards and scored two touchdowns.
His availability was in question because he injured a toe against LSU two weeks earlier and no one knew how much Devine could push it, but everyone was happy they didn’t have to find out.
“That was the big part of the last two weeks in practice, was understanding we have a great player who is banged up,” WVU offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen said. “You couldn’t write a better script. Three carries, two touchdowns.”
When he was in the game, Devine was just a blur, as one of his carries went for 48 yards and a score.
“He didn’t look too bad,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. “I think he will be ready to go next week. I don’t know if we tackled him.”
- With his two catches, slot receiver Jock Sanders now has 163 in his career, ranking him third on the school’s all-time list. He needs six more to match Shawn Foreman (1995-98). David Saunders, who played the same four years as Foreman, is the leader with 191.
- Mountaineers defensive back Keith Tandy picked off two passes, the first time a WVU player has done that in one game since teammate Brandon Hogan did it against Connecticut in 2008.
- Parkersburg’s Matt Lindamood scored his first career touchdown, marking the third different WVU player to do that this season, when he plunged in from a yard out on the game’s final score. Lindamood finished with 16 yards on four carries.
- The victory puts the final touches on “the preseason,” (Stewart’s words), with the Mountaineers improving to 4-1 this season and 13-4 under Stewart in non-conference games.