Stewart, dressed to the nines in a grey sport coat for his first weekly press conference of the season, was presented on Tuesday with a custom-crafted Renaissance Rifle by WVU rifle coach Jon Hammond and Class of '65 Alum Marvin Wotring.
"Our heritage, as you know, in these great beautiful hills has an awful lot to do with that rifle and our way of life," Stewart said.
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This Friday, August 29, is national College Colors Day. Stewart is on board with the cause, and encouraged Mountaineer fans to do the same on the day before the home opener.
"We're hoping that all people throughout America, and most importantly throughout the great state of West Virginia and the beautiful city of Morgantown, will show their school spirit and wear the college colors on that day with pride," Stewart said. "I hope that everyone who goes to work on Friday will wear some sort of old gold or blue or both old gold and blue. That will be a big festivity in the Mountain State I'm sure."
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As for the game itself, Stewart is not treating the Wildcats as any pushover, despite their status in the division formerley known as I-AA.
Villanova returns 17 starters from last season's 7-4 squad, and many expect head coach Andy Talley's team to compete for the CAA championship in 2008. While their talent level may not be equal to that of the Mountaineers, Stewart is counting on his veteran team to treat this game like any other.
"I grew up that you respect all and you fear none," Stewart said. "We don't fear anybody, and we certainly respect all. That being said, the Villanova Wildcats are going to bring a pretty good bunch in here. We need to play our game to the best of our ability and go from there.
"Someone could say ‘Gee, wouldn't you rather be playing a Big East opponent or a BCS opponent.' Well, I don't know," Stewart continued. "I just think that Villanova brings to us a heck of a challenge. They just don't have as many scholarships as we have to give, but they've won a bunch of football games."
One thing that Stewart will not have to scratch his head about is coming up with a way to counter the offensive and defensive schemes of Villanova. The Wildcats use a spread offense which relies heavily on the presence of a dual-threat quarterback, just as the Mountaineers do. They also use a stack defense similar to WVU's 3-3-5. So, in a way, Stewart's team has been preparing for this first game not only over the past few days, but during spring drills as well when going against each other in practices and scrimmages.
"Schematically, we have gone against what we think Villanova is going to do, for the most part," Stewart said. "There will always be a wrinkle here and there that we have to adjust to. Their defense is very similar to ours, and their offense is very similar to ours. "It's been kind of a blessing to go against what we've seen all spring and all camp unless they change. Knowing Coach Talley and his fine staff, I don't think they're going to do that. I think they're going to dance with the girl that brung them, and that's what we're going to do, too."
Stewart was asked on Tuesday if he personally takes a different approach to this weekend's game compared to his approach to January's Fiesta Bowl when he served as interim head coach. The main difference, Stewart noted, was that while he was focused on one game and one game only prior to that Fiesta Bowl, he has now been able to look long-term with his staff.
"I'm all about winning every football game," he said. "We, as a staff, are going to do everything we can to win every football game. We're also laying the foundation for a football program. That is probably the biggest difference."
Finally, no matter what happens on the field this week or any other week, don't expect West Virginia's 32nd Head Coach to change who he is. According to him, a deep support group will ensure that he's always the same ol' Stew.
"I know who I am, and I'm very secure," Stewart said. "I am who I am and I hope I always remain the same guy that I've always been and always will be. I've got a nice bride at home that will make sure that I don't crow too much, and I've got a 13-year old teenage son who will keep me in line also. I have a lot of friends in the business who will never let me forget who I am. I'm never worried about that."