MORGANTOWN -Head coaches rarely don't watch an upcoming opponent on television. The vast majority prefer to break down their rival in the film room.
But, even second-year head coach Bill Stewart couldn't help but turn on the set and watch Saturday night's Big East clash between No. 5-and unbeaten-Cincinnati and visiting Connecticut, won by the Bearcats by a 47-45 margin.
"I would be a liar if I said I didn't watch the game," Stewart explained during Sunday's teleconference. "I don't normally watch a lot of Big East football because I like to watch it on film.
"I watched last night because I wanted to get a flow of the game."
That flow was watching the Bearcats (9-0, 5-0 Big East) race out to a sizeable lead only to have the Huskies (4-5, 1-4) make a game of it late.
"I was watching Randy (Edsell) and am so proud of how he has kept his troops in every game. What a magnificent coaching job he has done. That game last night was just a heck of a game."
Stewart and his staff will have to do a lot more work this week as the Mountaineers (7-2, 3-1 Big East) attempt to make the conference race a three-team affair when they play at Cincinnati on Friday and then play host to arch-rival Pittsburgh in the annual "Backyard Brawl" on Friday, Nov. 27.
"We have a short week," Stewart said. "We are practicing tomorrow night (Monday) because it is a short week."
WVU is coming off of a less-than-impressive 17-9 victory over the University of Louisville. A contest that saw the Cardinal offense outgain its hosts by a 301-273 margin, but fail to get into the end zone.
"I looked at their (Louisville's) scores prior to the game, and they had scored a touchdown against everyone, but they did not get a touchdown against us, and that's really good."
However, on the negative side, the Mountaineers' offensive attack continues to fizzle.
"It can't be put on Jarrett because we had some drops yesterday in crucial situations," added the coach. "Also, there are breakdowns along the offensive line when guys are wide open.
"Did Jarrett miss that crossing route? Yes. He also forced one in there. But, the receiver could have come flat across the end zone instead of losing a little ground and helped him."
Brown's struggles began when the fifth-year senior suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit on the fourth play of the Friends of Coal Bowl against instate rival Marshall.
Since that hit the quarterback completed 16-of-27 for 153 yards in a win over Connecticut, went 19-of-32 for 205 yards in a loss at South Florida and followed those performances up with a 9-for-17 for 94 yards showing on Saturday.
"I think he has played the same (since the concussion in Marshall game)," said the coach.
"The youngster needs some help. The first thing you have to do when you pass the ball is pass block.
"Then you have to run precise routes. When Noel (Devine) went down, we threw Tavon (Austin) in there and we did some sets that we weren't ready for. Jock is usually in the slot beside Jarrett, and Wes (Lyons) and Tavon were there, and Jock was in the backfield."
Sanders responded to his emergency move to running back with a team-high 66 yards on 12 carries, but West Virginia will need Devine to return healthy against the Bearcats.
"Both (Noel Devine and Jarrett Brown) should play and be capable of playing if treatment goes well," explained Stewart. "I can't make that call right now with ankles.
"They both should be ready. Jarrett should be ready quicker that Noel; I don't know if Noel will play or not. He should if treatments go well."
If Devine, who leads the Mountaineers in rushing this season, is unable to play, Sanders would be the first choice to take over the running duties with sophomore Mark Rodgers remaining as the backup.
WVU and UC will be meeting for the 18th time with the Mountaineers holding a 14-2-1 edge in the series. Friday's 8 p.m. game contest is slated to be shown on ESPN2.