"I saw one North Carolina game against Rutgers early in the season. That night I thought they were world beaters," Stewart said. "They have speed and sass, and big players. They are a very talented football team. They caused a lot of turnovers that night. They just shellacked a pretty good Big East team.
"I told you that Mike Teel, and Underwood and Britt were talented and that they were starting to jell," Stewart said of the Scarlet Knights, who rallied for a late season winning streak and their own spot in a bowl game. "North Carolina dismantled them that night. I'm not sure what we will do with this bunch. Now, I think that the injury bug got them a time or two. I will have to call my buddies in the ACC at Blacksburg and Winston-Salem and get a book on these guys."
Stewart, who had two different coaching stints with the Tar Heels, isn't concerned about playing them in their home state. Although the location could amount to a de facto home contest for UNC, he stayed torue to his "play anytime, anywhere" ethos.
"I have a lot of respect for them," he said of UNC, "but I have no concern that it might be like a home game for them. "I just know that our fans…I see that as a challenge for them." I don't see it as a problem. I am sure that they will have a lot of people there. But I am sure the Mountaineer faithful will be there in full force."
The team will not practice until Friday, but Stewart and the coaches won't be taking any time off. Recruiting, bowl practice scheduling and film work will occupy them until Friday, when on-field preparations will likely begin. Stewart will also accompany Pat McAfee to Orlando for the presentation of the Ray Guy Award on Thursday. McAfee is one of three finalists for the award.
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Stewart was not sure on the status of Sidney Glover, who suffered an apparent knee injury against USF. Other than that, he said WVU came out of the game o.k.
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Stewart spent one year as a part-time assistant at North Carolina, retruning six years later for a three-year stint as a full-time assistant.
"I went there in 1979 as a graduate assistant, what they called a part-time coach at that time. I was hired at $2,850. [Head coach] Dick Crum bumped it up to $4,495, which was the equivalent of out-of-state tuition. "We took our trailer from West Virginia and spent a year there. We beat Michigan and [assistant coach] Don Nehlen in 1979 in the Gator bowl. I went back to UNC in 1985-87, and was the offensive line coach for Dick Crum."
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Stewart also commented on the perception that North Carolina is a basketball school, first and foremost.
"If you look back at the time from 1980-82, they beat a lot of teams like Arkansas, and they went 11-1. Some might call it a basketball school, but down there they have won a lot of football games. It might be a basketball mentality to some, but they play good football on Tobacco Road."