MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Addressing the program's first two-game Big East Conference losing streak since 2004, West Virginia University Coach Bill Stewart spent the first eight and a half minutes of his weekly press conference Monday with a "total self-evaluation of the program."
"I know I've put my finger on the problems that need to be corrected and we'll get that done," Stewart said.
Stewart said the review is a standard procedure and not a reaction to back-to-back losses. He said he and his staff review the game just played every week and then look at the two before that to examine three-game trends.
Stewart said the open week gives the staff an opportunity to take a closer look at what is and isn't working for the Mountaineers (5-3, 1-2 Big East) before they host Cincinnati (3-5, 1-2) at noon Nov. 13 on Big East Network television.
"It's done all the time, but when you have a break is when you really have a chance, and not having to catch up with film and plan practice and get everything going, you can really say, 'Hey, two-thirds of the season is over. We've played eight games, so now we do this,' " Stewart said. "So it's timing, really."
Stewart is 24-11 as WVU's coach, but just 8-5 in the past 13 games and 5-5 against BCS conference opponents. He spent much of the press conference discussing the offense.
He revealed three things on which WVU must focus: ball security, legal formations and motion and pass protection.
WVU had no turnovers in back-to-back wins against UNLV and USF, but had three interceptions in a loss to Syracuse and lost four of seven fumbles in Friday's overtime loss to Connecticut.
Offensive players have been called for four illegal procedure penalties the past two games. Quarterback Geno Smith has been sacked 11 times and, Stewart said, hurried just as often, which may encourage more roll-outs and waggles as well as quarterback draws.
"Young guys make mistakes, but still, young guys in the eighth game might not make that mistake," Stewart said. "I've got to do a better job coaching that and I'm going to do a better job coaching that."
The Mountaineers have scored 13, 14 and 20 points the past three games and Stewart said the results have forced him and offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen to ask themselves if the plan is right and does it work with a player's abilities.
"I grilled him and he grilled me," Stewart said. "We went through every play, looked at every player, and I said, 'Are the plays you're calling ... can that guy do that? Can our left tackle do it? Can our back do it? Can our wide out do it? Can the quarterback handle it?'"
WVU never trailed USF, but led 10-0 in the first quarter and 17-3 at halftime of the 20-6 victory. WVU also led Syracuse 14-3 in the first quarter of a 19-14 loss and UConn 10-0 in the first quarter of a 16-13 loss. In those three games, WVU has scored 34 of its 47 points in the first quarter and only six after halftime.
Stewart said opponents "get a book on you" at this stage in the season and the offense must "make adjustments and maybe add a wrinkle here or there to help that situation.