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EerNotes Oct. 6: Running Back Updates, Leonar

The No. 1 thing on the mind of many West Virginia fans during the bye week -- other than what could have been in Baton Rouge, of course -- has been the uncertain status of running back Noel Devine.

Leonard is enjoying a breakout season.

The senior suffered a bone bruise on the big toe of his right foot early on in the Mountaineers’ loss at LSU on September 25. West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart said that he expects Devine to play on Saturday against UNLV, but didn’t say how much of a workload he might carry.

“Noel is doing well. I am not going to say great because I won’t know that until Saturday in warm ups,” Stewart said. “I was really proud of him yesterday because he was either in class or in treatment.”

Another question that has been brought up a lot since the loss against LSU: who will be the feature back if Devine gets hurt again, or if he's unable able to go against the Rebels on Saturday.

Fullback Ryan Clarke got the bulk of the carries when Devine came out against the Tigers, but struggled in the game, including a costly fumble at the WVU six-yard line that led to an LSU touchdown.

Stewart has hinted that next year when Devine leaves the program that slot receiver Tavon Austin will be the guy to fill his shoes. But he said not to expect to see him in the backfield any more than he usually is when they play on Saturday.

But the head coach has been impressed with the way that freshman running back Trey Johnson has played in practices and scrimmages, so he may see significant time the backfield against UNLV.
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One pleasant surprise of the 2010 season for the Mountaineers has been the emergence of linebacker Anthony Leonard.

Leonard moved to middle linebacker in the early part of the season, while Pat Lazear has been out with a severe bone bruise. The results of the move have been impressive; the senior currently leads the team in tackles.

“He has done very well this season,” Stewart said of Leonard. “When your time comes, you have to step up. He has always been behind people and now he has stepped up.

“He is playing really hard and I am proud of him.”
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QUICK HITTERS:
• During the Big East coaches’ conference call on Monday, Stewart talked about the statuses of defensive end Julian Miller and left guard Josh Jenkins. He said that Miller should play and he believes he could get the start. Stewart also said that Jenkins could be available for the UNLV game.

• In his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Bill Stewart spoke very highly about UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck.

“Their coach is a dandy,” Stewart said. “Bobby Hauck has won over 80 percent of his games. He is on track to be a great one and he is a winner. I like what he is doing with this team.”

• Prior to the game on Saturday, West Virginia University will induct its newest group of Hall of Fame inductees. Among the eight people who will be inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame is current Baltimore Ravens quarterback Marc Bulger. The ceremony is open to the public and will be held at 1 p.m. at the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility.

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