West Virginia coach Bill Stewart expects his team to be near full strength in two weeks when it returns to Mountaineer Field to face UNLV, and that includes a healthy Noel Devine.

Devine suffered a significant bruise on his big toe early in the LSU loss last Saturday night on a late hit out of bounds and wound up with one of his worst games statistically as a Mountaineer, netting just 37 yards.

Stewart admitted that he remained mad about the out of bounds hit, but did get a 15-yard penalty out of it, which is not much compensation for virtually losing the heart of your offense.

“He came back in the game and ran tough,” Stewart said. “He was hurting really bad at halftime.”

Devine is now undergoing treatment for the injury and wearing an orthotic to take pressure off the foot.

“The good thing is that we don’t play this weekend and we are off until next Saturday and, by that time, I know he will be fine. He will practice as normal,” Stewart said.

What did happen with Devine injured led to some questions as to whether or not the team was prepared for an injury to him. They opted to use Ryan Clarke at fullback and he committed a serious fumble that led to a touchdown while Devine was out of the game.

Stewart opted not to go with true freshman Trey Johnson in that situation and also decided against using either Jock Sanders or Tavon Austin there, moving them from the slot.

And, he said Tuesday, nothing has changed.

“I don’t think his injury is so severe that we have to have an emergency plan, but if something were to happen we have Ryan Clarke and there is always Trey Johnson and Shawne Alston. If it looked like he might be out for a week or more, you might see someone like Jock back there.”

The other major injury was to starting left guard Josh Jenkins, who has an arthroscopic procedure on his knee a week ago.

“I am expected him to be ready for our next game,” Stewart said. “I never want to overlook an opponent, but I really want him ready for the South Florida game. That is the first Big East game and that is when I would like to have all our starters back.”

That would include Tyler Urban, the tight end who has not played since the opener, and middle linebacker Pat Lazear, who saw his first action of the year against LSU as he recovers from a leg injury.

o o o o o o

Even though placekicker Tyler Bitancurt has missed three field goals this, the last two blocked, Stewart maintains he is not worried about him.

A year ago Bitancurt missed only two field goals all season.

“He has made so many big ones in the past that missing a few now is not worrying me so much right now. I don’t see a pattern at this point.

“I will talk to him about it. I don’t want to put a bad seed into his head. I am sure that he will get it worked and make some big kicks before the year is out.”

Kickoff man Corey Smith, the Alabama transfer from Musselman High, also is capable of kicking field goals.

o o o o o o

Patrick Peterson broke down the WVU punt coverage team and ran one back for a 60-yard touchdown and also had a 26-yard return.

What happened?

The answer was hardly technical in nature.

“That guy is just faster than our guys. He ran around the outside leverage, like Stevie Slaton used to do. I don’t have anybody faster than him. We had our fastest guy out there and he ran around him,” Stewart said.

On the other one a guard got out of his lane and that was all she wrote.

E-mail Bob Hertzel at bhertzel@timeswv.com.

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