The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

October 7, 2009

Devine wanted the football against Buffaloes

MORGANTOWN — We take you back to last Thursday night. Halftime. West Virginia University 14, Colorado 10.

It had been an ugly, ugly game for the Mountaineers. They were dropping the football as often as a social climber drops names.

Bill Stewart is normally a calm human being, one who likes to teach the game of football, not shove it down your throat.

But he was mad.

“I was ripping into them,” Stewart said.

When he finished and was off to the side, Noel Devine approached him.

“Coach, give me the rock. Give me the ball,” Devine said to Stewart. “Keep calm. Everyone knows we’re goofing up.”

Stewart is a smart enough coach to know when the time is to listen to his players, especially when that player has the talent that Devine has.

He gave him the ball in the second half, especially during a 14-play, 69-yard drive that broke open the game.

Eight times he gave it Devine on that drive. And he kept giving it to him until Devine had rung up 220 yards on 22 carries, the yardage being a career high.

While others were fumbling the ball, Devine was cherishing it.

While others were trying too hard, straining, as Stewart likes to say, he was staying within himself.

It was almost as if he finally had become the runner that everyone knew he could be, one who took what was given him.

In previous years, it was almost as if each play had to be a highlight reel or Devine wasn’t satisfied. When 5 or 6 yards would do, he want 56 yards.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve changed,” Devine said. “I understand the game and the offense more and things have slowed down. Back then, I just wanted to score every time I got the ball. I understand in reality that’s not going to happen — but I still think that way.”

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Bob Herzel
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