MORGANTOWN - It's hard to look at West Virginia's 24-21 overtime win at Marshall last Friday without appreciating just how fortunate the Mountaineers are to be 2-0 and not 1-1.
Still, even after needing a turnover, two massive drives, a 2-point conversion and a lot of luck just to prevail after trailing 21-6 midway through the fourth quarter, the Mountaineers feel better off for the experience.
At least now coach Bill Stewart has an idea of what his team can accomplish under adverse conditions.
"The first thing is, do you hang together?'' Stewart said Tuesday. "Everyone has had bumps in the road. We've had trials and tribulations. Now, how do you get through them? You persevere. You just buckle up a little bit tighter and you find ways to win and get things done. That's what we did at Marshall.
"That being said, you can't get yourself in that predicament as we did.''
It would be helpful if that did not happen again this week when the No. 21 Mountaineers (2-0) face Maryland (2-0) Saturday at Mountaineer Field. The game starts at noon and will be televised by ESPNU.
"What kind of team would fold? A team that isn't tough, that doesn't have resiliency, that doesn't believe, that hasn't been through the school of hard knocks. We didn't,'' Stewart said. "That shows me something. We scored. We knocked the ball loose, then went 96 and 98 yards with a 2-point conversion and overtime. I'm not going to apologize for that.
"You keep believing, call what you think you can call and give your best effort. You have a quarterback [sophomore Geno Smith] in his second complete start manage the ball and throw to five different people ... with absolutely tremendous throws. The players made plays.''
Just the way you are
A reporter from Washington was at Stewart's weekly news conference Tuesday and asked about the atmosphere at Mountaineer Field.
He wanted to know what kind of an advantage it was for a team with fans who tend to be loud and, well, sometimes nasty to opposing teams.
Stewart just smiled.
"Oh, we don't do that here,'' he said. "We cleaned that up a couple of years ago. Our fans are the neatest, tidiest, most courteous [fans]. Tell Ralph [Friedgen, the Maryland coach] he doesn't have to worry about our fans.''