There was no way West Virginia cornerback Antonio Lewis would let down recently when dropped into a reserve role.

“I’m not that type of player,” the 5-10, 185-pound junior said. “This whole thing is bigger than me.

“We’re still a team, and we still want to win. I’m going to do whatever I can to help.

“I’m still going to practice hard and push whoever’s in front of me to get better and make plays. I go out and do my best every game.”

That’s exactly what Lewis did when called on in the second half of last week’s 45-27 victory over old rival Pitt.

He was credited with two tackles, one a sack for minus-15 yards, and he broke up two passes in sparking the defensive unit’s recovery from a poor first half.

Lewis, who has started seven games this season, readily admits that it’s hard watching from the bench.

“But if you’re me, you’re going to try to play at a high level every play,” he said. “When I was sitting on the bench, I watched the wide receivers. I think that helped me.”

Lewis suspects that the mindset among Mountaineer defenders wasn’t quite right in the first half against Pitt.

“I think we were a little passive,” he said. “We were just trying to feel them out, see what they were going to do, instead of just challenging them on every play.

“We should have swarmed to the ball better and tried to tackle them. I think in the second half we let it all loose and played a lot better.”

With WVU trailing 27-24 at halftime, he thinks everyone felt the season was on the line, so went out and got in Pitt players’ faces.

“We were aggressive and blitzing and they had to make plays if they could.”

Lewis ranks fourth in tackles with 47 and has a team-high eight pass break-ups.

“It was a good feeling to shut out Pitt in the second half,” he said. “That ought to be a confidence-booster for the defense.

“We carried that into practice this week, and we’re going to try to keep it rolling.”

Whether starter or reserve, Lewis vows to perform as hard and as well as ever in Saturday’s noon home game against South Florida.

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