August 7, 2007

These are the articles that don’t focus on a particular player, coach, position battle. Just the broad overview articles that bounce from one area, side of the ball and theme quickly trying to weave it all into one cohesive story. Of course the focus will still be on what Coach Wannstedt said, like this from the AP.

But as his players posed for pictures on the day before the start of fall camp, Wannstedt didn’t offer excuses for the failed finish of last year or the perception that Pitt is falling further and further behind the Big East’s best teams.

Rather, he suggested a turnaround is near, now that the majority of starters — at least 14 — are his own recruits and not those of predecessor Walt Harris. Wannstedt also likes the competitiveness at many positions, such as on the defensive line. There, he said, the backups are nearly equal to the starters for the first time since he took over.

Then there’s the picking up of one theme from the day and using that as the story arc throughout.

Finish,” Wannstedt said Monday morning at Pitt’s Media Day, “is going to be a big word you’re going to hear me talk about.”

After going 6-6 last season – Pitt was picked to place sixth in the Big East in a media preseason poll – the Panthers have been hearing the word so much that it has become a prevalent theme.

“Whether it’s talking about finishing every single rep in the weight room or on the field, every single run or time spent watching film,” junior quarterback Bill Stull said, “the word finish has been embedded in our mind.”

Some, though, haven’t forgotten a huge Dave Wannstedt theme and maybe asks one of the best questions in a stock “5 keys/questions” overview.

5. Will this team be faster?

When Pitt plays Big East Conference heavyweights West Virginia and Louisville, the Panthers’ lack of speed is apparent. Wannstedt continues to recruit faster athletes than previous head coach Walt Harris did. Judging from what the rest of the Big East Conference thinks – Pitt was picked to finish sixth out of eight teams – Wannstedt needs a few more recruiting classes like the one he secured for this year to catch up.

You know, Hoopie fans and others point derisively to Coach Wannstedt’s comments at the halftime of the 2005 Backyard Brawl when Pitt was getting beaten badly about what the team needs to do. “Get faster,” was the comment and that was a long-term thing. The team is supposed to and better be faster this season.

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