WVU rebounds from 4 first-half turnovers
Published: Friday, October 2, 2009
Updated: Friday, October 2, 2009 03:10
When West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart envisioned bouncing back from a six-turnover performance against Auburn, it wasn't by turning the ball four times.
After Thursday's four turnover performance against Colorado, the Mountaineers are ranked 119th in Division I for turnovers with a differential of minus 11 and has committed 14 turnovers this season, including 10 times in the last two games.
West Virginia fumbled on four straight possessions starting with a Jarrett Brown fumble in the first quarter just two plays after Colorado's first punt of the game.
"When we turn the ball over, we're taking point off the board," Brown said. "We'll get it corrected. We're doing some great things, and if we didn't make these mistakes we would be a much better team."
On WVU's next possession, after driving 49 yards down the field to the Colorado 23-yard line, wide receiver Bradley Starks coughed up the football after a first down reception.
"We just have to cut down our mistakes and keep playing our game," Starks said. "We have to stay focused for four quarters. We were killing ourselves, but we knew that we had to stay positive."
The ensuing possession saw the Mountaineers fumble again inside Colorado territory, this time slot receiver Jock Sanders after receiving a Brown pass.
The defense even managed to get in on the act.
J.T. Thomas intercepted Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins midway through the second quarter but then managed to fumble on the return.
Thomas' fumble turned out to be the Mountaineers' final turnover of the game.
Stewart said that it's almost impossible to win a game when you turn the ball over as many as four times. However, unlike last week, when Auburn scored 24 points off six West Virginia turnovers, Colorado managed to score just three points off turnovers.
"We overcame some turnovers against a good football team," Stewart said. "If we do not take of the turnovers, we will not have the banner season like I hoped we would."
Stewart said that it was running back Noel Devine and Brown who made sure the offense did not lose its composure.
"I could hear them on the sidelines," Stewart said. "They just wanted to hang in there and stay the course. We just needed to play Mountaineer football."
Stewart knows that when his team begins to protect the ball it will be successful.
"If we protect the ball, we will go places," Stewart said. "We just didn't take care of the ball. It all goes back to fundamentals. We just have to hold (the ball) tight. We're going to do some drills this week."
WVU offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen saw progress in the offensive turnovers from the Auburn game to the Colorado game. Mullen said that the turnovers in the Auburn game stemmed from mental mistakes, while the four fumbles against Colorado were physical errors.
At halftime, Mullen said that the coaching staff didn't need to say too much to the players regarding the turnovers. He said they knew they had to stop making mental and physical errors that gave the ball away.
"It was very frustrating, but I've never walked away from a game coming out of it 100 percent without physical and mental errors," Mullen said.
Brown made sure to clarify that the team must continue to learn from its mistakes.
"Every time we step on the field, we want to get better," Brown said. "No matter what we do, we always want to improve.
"Our potential is to the sky when we take care of ourselves."