Stewart readies Noel Devine backup plan

Will Noel Devine play Saturday against UNLV? Should he even play?

The West Virginia star suffered a bone bruise under his right big toe early in the Sept. 25 loss at LSU and was clearly not himself the rest of the game. Head coach Bill Stewart sounded unsure on Monday whether Devine would be ready this weekend, even after a bye week.

Stewart said that by Monday afternoon, Devine had already received three treatments on his foot.

"He wants to get healthy as much as the next guy," Stewart said. "He bounced around a little bit in practice. Hopefully by [Tuesday] or Wednesday, he'll get back on track."

Stewart said he'll know more by Thursday, but that he's already mentioned to his assistants that receivers Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin might need to get ready to play some tailback this week. But the coach likes how freshman Trey Johnson and sophomore Shawne Alston have looked in practice, along with big backs Ryan Clarke and Matt Lindamood.

"I think we have more than enough to get through," he said.

UNLV is just 1-4, but three of its losses are to ranked teams (Wisconsin, Utah and Nevada). The Mountaineers have their Big East opener just five days after facing the Rebels, with a Thursday nighter on tap next week against nemesis South Florida.

So should Stewart simply rest Devine and have him ready to go against the Bulls in a much more important game? He says he's not looking at it that way.

"We're going to run him enough to win the football game," Stewart said. "If he can't go, if God forbid something happens in pregame or early in the game and he gets hurt, we'll just have to go with Plan B. And Plan B, right now. I feel good about."

It might be the opposite situation with starting guard Josh Jenkins. He missed the LSU game after having his leg rolled up on against Maryland. Stewart said Jenkins would likely be medically cleared for Saturday, but that he may want to protect him and save him for the conference opener.

Stewart also said that defensive end Julian Miller (muscle spasms) is improving and he hopes that Miller can play a bigger role than he did against LSU.