|No. 8 WVa's Bill Stewart prepares for first game|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 26 August 2008 12:11|
He's likely to win his first game as Rich Rodriguez's replacement, nine months after guiding West Virginia past Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl as the interim coach.
Saturday's game against Championship Subdivision member Villanova poses a lighter challenge than the Sooners with a lot less at stake. Even so, Stewart's not looking past a team returning 17 starters.
``Our chief concern is that we never underestimate an opponent,'' Stewart said Tuesday.
Even though quarterback Pat White is back and No. 8 West Virginia's offensive line is intact from a year ago, there are major concerns on a defense with few returning starters. Rightly so, Stewart is worried about his own players and how they'll handle themselves.
``Are we going to have offsides? Are we going to have mental breakdowns? Are we going to stay together?'' Stewart said. ``Because there's going to be crunch time in every game.
``I told the team I didn't want them to feel any pressure because I want them to be loose in every game.''
That won't be any trouble for Stewart, who wore a suit and tie for his first regular-season news conference and appeared as easy going as the day after the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl, when he was picked to succeed Rodriguez despite going 8-25 at VMI from 1994-96 in his last job as a head coach.
``The trip out west to play in that January bowl game was just about the bowl game. This is all about making an impression,'' Stewart said. ``A long time ago as a little kid I learned that the most lasting impression is your first impression. So this needs to be a big first impression.''
Despite West Virginia's Top 10 ranking to start a season for the third straight year and the still-fresh memories of national championship hopes getting thrown out the window with a December loss to Pittsburgh, Stewart said he doesn't feel one bit of pressure.
``I know who I am. I'm very secure,'' he said. ``I hope I remain the same guy. I've got a nice bride at home who's going to make sure I don't crow too much, and I got a 13-year-old son who keeps me in line and friends in the business that won't let me forget who I am.
``I sleep well. I'm not going to change.''