MORGANTOWN - If you thought Bill Stewart didn't like to talk about the past and preferred a narrow focus and singular vision, ask the West Virginia football coach about the future.
It will be a brief conversation.
He'll never talk about the 13th game of the season, let alone anything beyond the next round in the fight. Why, Monday he wouldn't even talk much about the news that had come just a few hours later announcing TCU had joined the Big East.
"I'm intensely focused on trying to find a way to beat Rutgers," said Stewart, whose Mountaineers visit Rutgers on Saturday for a noon game to be televised by ABC.
With all that in mind, though, Stewart took not merely a step out of bounds Sunday, but a hop, skip and a jump away from the norm. He was asked if this sudden revival of option football at WVU with two big backs and the quarterback combining to move the ball effectively, if not electrifyingly, was perhaps a preview for 2011.
"Yes," he said.
The presses stopped.
Granted, it makes sense. In the past three games, quarterback Geno Smith, fullback Ryan Clarke and running back Shawne Alston have run the ball pretty well and oftentimes together. They'll all be back next year while Noel Devine, who himself may be having a quasi-comeback late in his senior season, will be gone.
Even in a loss at Connecticut that preceded the winning streak, Smith was used a career-high number of times in either designed or option runs.
Yet WVU has been a pass-first offense this season and trended toward that from the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl and forward. Smith will return as the triggerman and the only target he'll lose is Jock Sanders, although losing the school's career leader in receptions is no small void to fill.
So, in theory, you had to wonder if the Mountaineers would keep on chucking or if recent results might encourage another shift.
You wouldn't be alone.
"You'll remember when we finally got the offense clicking there in the Car Care Bowl against North Carolina," Stewart said of the 31-30 victory against the Tar Heels to end 2008 that saw Pat White, the NCAA's career leader in rushing yards, pass for more yards and completions than he ever had before.
"That was a big win and we got better and better toward the end of that year. We got the Car Care Bowl win and we were clicking. That's kind of how we evolved it."