Middle linebacker and defensive catalyst Reed Williams apparently will start Saturday in No. 8 West Virginia’s season opener against Villanova after all.
New coach Bill Stewart said this morning on the Big East teleconference that he expects to start the senior, who is coming off surgeries on both shoulders shortly after being named the defensive MVP in the Fiesta Bowl and leading the Mountaineers in tackles in 2007.
“The way I saw him hitting last week in practice, I think he wants to play real, real bad,” Stewart said of Williams, who was cleared to resume full contact last Wednesday. “He’s right on schedule. Everybody’s pleased with how quickly he has come back. . . . Reed Williams has done everything. He’s the Reed of old. The doctors feel good, he feels good. He’s come a long, long way in a fast period of time this last month. He’s very much ready to go.”
In other tidbits today:
- Stewart said sophomore Brandon Hogan, radically switched from slotback to cornerback at August’s start, might not start but should see plenty of playing time at nickel back and punt returner, where he likely would align with cornerback Ellis Lankster. “First punt return, he’ll be out there,” the coach vowed of Hogan.
- Speaking of cornerbacks, Stewart considered Lankster, Kent Richardson, Eddie Davis, Hogan, et. al. “as good or better as the guys we’ve played with [in recent years, namely Perry Traditional Academy’s Vaughn Rivers, Larry Williams and Antonio Lewis]. They just haven’t been in the arena yet.”
- Villanova coach Andy Talley, on the Colonial Athletic Association teleconference, spoke about how he expects West Virginia “to try to run the ball down our throats.” In other words, he figures the Mountaineers will look down upon the I-AA Wildcats, who happen to be ranked No. 19 in that division’s poll. Talley added: “They’re bigger, faster and stronger and probably expect to dominate the game. I don’t think they’re terribly excited about Villanova, to be quite frank.” The guy knows how to motivate: Villanova has won two of its past three games against Big East foes, beating Rutgers (37-19) in 2003 and Temple (23-20) in 2004, also on the road.