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October 3, 2008

I’ve had a few hours to sleep on it. Haven’t looked at the media yet. This was a great game for Pitt. Not just because they won — though that was a huge part of it. It was how they did it. Without playing a perfect game.

They made mistakes. They screwed up on special teams. They turned the ball over a couple times. Stull threw some horrible passes. Mistakes were made. Yet, instead of retreating into conservatism and everything Wannstedt has usually done, he let the team stay aggressive and keep attacking. The defense kept going after Grothe. The offense still threw the ball — downfield.

The players responded. Their energy was excellent the entire game. It was the sort of effort and game Pitt fans have been wanting to see. It’s not about making the offense more “exciting” or something it isn’t. It is seeing Pitt use the players in ways that takes advantage of their skill sets rather than just jamming them into the system regardless of fit.





HAIL TO PITT!!!

Comment by Brian 10.03.08 @ 8:31 am

It appears as if the Pitt team as well as the coaching staff is maturing. This was a big win. Hopefully we have turned the corner. I just hope people wait at least two more wins before considering us for the rankings as every time we get ranked during the Coach Wannstedt’s era we seem to fall apart.

Hail To Pitt!

Comment by SCPittMBA 10.03.08 @ 8:39 am

I also think this was an important game for the fan base. Having been at Pitt for four years now, I think some of the overall apathy with which people regard our team has to do not with the fact that we’ve been losing, but with how we’ve been losing (getting a 7-10 pt lead and crawling into a shell). This win signified so much more for our program than the WVU win. Sure, that was a great win and whatnot, but in the grand scheme of things, that was a chokejob by their team as much as it was us taking a win out of Motown. Last night, we played like a top 25 team with a top 10 defense. Our offense, though not crisp or high powered, played it its strengths and finally used 4 years of horrible play calling to its advantage by taking USF by surprise a few times during the game. I don’t think you can give Cavanaugh enough credit for calling play action on the first play of our last scoring drive. Everyone in the building was looking at Shady before the snap, which ultimately left Turner wide open in the middle of the field. We also finally turn Baldwin loose for a couple of plays and he scores a touchdown and, more importantly, drew two HUGE interference calls against a senior cornerback to keep drives alive. All in all, this game signified hope for our program. Hope that we can right this ship, hope that we can use our players like they ought to be used, and hope for a special season.

Comment by Yi 10.03.08 @ 8:42 am

The play calling was a refreshing change from the past 4 games. My only concern is that we PLAY(because of the coaching schemes) to the level of our competition. I hope Wanny and crew also get this time that we beat UConn, WVU, and now SFU as they were all ranked. Please don’t let history repeat itself or WE will lose to Navy in 2 weeks.
This team has the talent, now the coaching has to keep righting the wrongs from the first 4 games.
One last thing. The running play on 3rd and 8 when Pitt kicked the field goal to make it 20-14, was another questionable call. Look I’m not trying to spew all negativity and i never write, but I am a season ticket holder and have seen some really spotty play calling which I hope the coaches have worked out of their system. The players are too good for anything less.

Comment by BeanBoy 10.03.08 @ 9:07 am

Only after we reach a bowl game and then a BCS bowl game will I believe Pitt has turned the corner, until then, I don’t have much faith in Dave or this team.

Great win, to bad no one saw it.

I might be Debbi Downer, but I’m still waiting for the bottom to fall out, it was only a couple of years ago Pitt was 6-1 and then we went 0-6….Let’s wait and see before expecting miracles from Dave Wannstedt.

Comment by Marc 10.03.08 @ 9:10 am

I’ve been a huge Cavanaugh basher since last year. But to give credit where credit is due, he called a pretty good game last night. Maybe he’s realized that flexibility and balance are the key. Those short passes are a lot more effective when the safeties and corners have to play off because of downfield threats.

This was also a good performance for the coaching staff because the team was coached up, disciplined, and had a lot of heart after USF made their last score. I gotta say I’m glad they kicked out of bounds though!!!

Comment by Erie Guy 10.03.08 @ 9:14 am

I’m the die-hard Pitt fan at work and everyone asked if I thought we would win. I said we will get destroyed unless we open up the offense…VICTORY!

Kudos to the coaches.

It’s alot more fun to pick apart a game after winning a close one to a ranked team on the road than say, Buffalo. Great win but we still have to fix mistakes. Forget about all of us bloggers, I think that the coaches and players just proved to each other that they are a good team and if they fix the mistakes, they can be great!

Comment by Hail2Pitt 10.03.08 @ 9:24 am

15 days till the Navy game, thats not a good thing.

Comment by alcofan 10.03.08 @ 9:42 am

What a game!!!!! Wannstache did everything right last night. Great job by him and the rest of the coaching staff. I will even give credit to my favorite whipping boy, O’Derrick Turner. He made probably the biggest play of the game on that catch and run. Maybe seeing Baldwin dominate lit a fire under him like a lot of us thought it might. Speaking of Baldwin, how about that kid!!!! He is simply sick. After this game, he will command a double team every time he is on the field. The only thing that can stop him is a terrible throw or pass interference.

Great day to be a Pitt fan. Wannstache might get this thing turned around. The only thing that stinks is that we have to wait 18 days to see these guys play again!

Comment by Omar 10.03.08 @ 9:45 am

Boy, Pitt fans are a negative bunch. Marc, you are a real buzz-kill. My goodness, look at who that 6-1 record was against that year. We had lost to the only good team on the schedule, Michigan State, and all of our games were at home.

Pitt just beat a top-10 team on the road. That Pitt team with Palko would have gotten the shit kicked out of them against USF. The difference between this team and that one is the d-line. If we can force long third downs, those guys effing dominate.

And how about all the blitzes. That was so fun to watch. I don’t know what happens next, but I think we are in for a fun ride this season. I think that Bowling Green loss and the close wins were EXACTLY what this team needed. Notice how they didn’t play tight when they lost the lead. That was huge.

Comment by Omar 10.03.08 @ 9:51 am

Marc-
“Great win, to[sic] bad no one saw it”
The game was on ESPN’s primetime football broadcast. I think a handful of people may have seen it.

Comment by matt 10.03.08 @ 9:51 am

How bout the Stache Jr – Phil Bennett. A nice defensive scheme, really held sfu in check almost all night. Remember this sfu team just spanked NC State 42-10 on the road. Nice to see the other coaches Tony Wise and Buddy Morris getting some air time and credit too. The reporters commented several times how dead the sfu sidelines were, even early on in the first half. Reminded me of how Pitt looked during Bowling Green. Hopefully the time off gives them time to rest, heal, and prep for the final stretch.

Comment by Rex 10.03.08 @ 9:51 am

This was a true turning point for the program. The post is right on- they did not play a perfect game, but they fought back and won anyway against a quality opponent (on the road and on a short week no less). They had their minds made up that they were going to get after the guys across from them and attack on offense and defense. Win or lose, that’s all everyone has been asking for out of the coaches.

HAIL TO PITT!

Comment by Dan35 10.03.08 @ 9:53 am

Erin Andrews was on the field, giving game updates….people SAW the game!

Nice will, Pitt!

Comment by Colt Convert 10.03.08 @ 9:54 am

Comment by Rex 10.03.08 @ 10:06 am

Great game.. but lets not let it get to our heads. If this team shows up for the rest of the years.. the big east is ours.

We made plenty of mistakes against USF… but a good sign is that we recoverd from them and still was in control. Thats one thing that seperates this pitt team from the previous ones….

We need this heart and determination no matter who the oppenent is. I hope we can do that.

Comment by Snala the Panther 10.03.08 @ 10:14 am

“With all the mistakes we made in this game, I’m surprised [the score] wasn’t farther apart than it was,” Leavitt said.

What a jerk! I guess we have a new sore loser in the conference since DickRods departure.

Did you forget about the blocked punt for a TD Mr. Leavitt you douchebag. If it wasn’t for that, then you wouldn’t have been in the game at all.

Comment by Omar 10.03.08 @ 10:16 am

Well…Pitt held up their end of the bargain, let’s see if PittBlather can hold up theirs.

For the next 15 days, let’s revolve the discussions around our FIRST PLACE PITT PANTHERS instead of the Wannstedt bashing!

Hail to Pitt! :)

Comment by Jake 10.03.08 @ 10:20 am

What a win! I cant wait until we play Navy, we ow them big time from last year. In that case I will become the biggest Air Force fan and Army fan to counter Navy lol! What a will, if the coaches continue to call the game they did last night then I truely see this team going threw the Big East, Norte Dame and fat ass hole Charlie, all the way to a BCS game!The physicalatly and aggresive play is hard to stop when your conditioned like they were. South Florida was gased on their home field down in the heat and humidity. This was a great win, and dont let any of the drive-byes from ESPN and anybody else tell you differently. GREAT WIN, LETS GO PITT!

Comment by Lou 10.03.08 @ 10:27 am

Did anyone go on ESPN? What a joke they don’t even have Pitt beating the number 10 team in the country as the cover story on their college football page. WTF? Instead there is the same article on Vandy that has been up for the past day or two. I understand the Big East doesn’t get a lot of respect b/c of what happened early in the season. But come on, I think ESPN is partly to blame for it too. If the number 10 team loses that is a big story, that deserves the headlines. Also, the highlights on ESPN last night and this morning mentioned the game basically as a side note, and showed about 3 highligihts. Also, you got no picture of how Pitt dominated the line of scrimmage and physically manhandled the bulls most of the night. You would’ve thought it was a Division 3 game. I am sick of ESPN and their hype machine workers just talking SEC and BIG 12. This was a big win and even CBSsportsline and SI.com put it was their lead story.

Comment by Billy West 10.03.08 @ 10:37 am

I encourage everyone to write to Brian Bennet the Big East blogger at ESPN and fill his inbox with complaints about this ridiculous coverage.

Comment by Billy West 10.03.08 @ 10:37 am

It was a very good win but my favorite part of the game was when Stull tried to “air it out” down the sideline and the camera was focused on the db & receiver who both stopped – and then the camera panned back to the line of scrimmage and the ball was rolling around about 20 yards from where the receiver was……The downfield passing is essential but maybe Stull should just throw it as far as he can on a 3 step drop so receivers can actually catch it in stride without overrunning it or making shoe-lace catches.

Comment by Joey D 10.03.08 @ 10:42 am

Great win and what i finally saw was emotion, creativity on both sides of the ball and a sense of urgency. And to be honest if no one saw the game and all they heard was Pitt beat a top 10 team and Shady looked great I’m fine with that. That is a big win!

On the downside too many mistakes and we need to have a KILLER INSTINCT. That 3rd and 8 up by 3 late in the 4th if we score a TD there game over. I don’t get just running it up the middle try something safe but creative that did that all game! And I know the wild cat didn’t work but they only had Cross and McCoy run something 3 times give it a chance. The Pitt coaching staff preaches patience have patience with some gadget plays keeps the other D off balance.

Play with intensity and purpose and don’t play to lose look what happens!

Comment by Art_pitt91 10.03.08 @ 11:09 am

As a mountaineer fan, I’d have to say pitt really has a good team this year. You guys seem to have really turned it around, and are probably going to be among the main contenders for the Big East this year. Congrats and good luck.

Comment by MountaineerBen 10.03.08 @ 11:19 am

Big win for the Royal We. It’s something to build on for validation but not something to really point to prove validation. Upsets occured repeatedly this past week. Throw this one in the mix. But as a part of the Royal We, we can look at this game to see that the talent is present. There is improvement. This team is evolving which is both refreshing and encouraging.

I am happy how things are going this year so far. I am not overly excited as I was in the beginning of the year, but more focused on details on how this team can improve week to week and seeing results in wins. This is a good way to build this program. Plus we are so young.

Comment by Freebird 10.03.08 @ 11:31 am

Omar,

How is that Leavitt being a sore loser? He said that with all of their mistakes, he’s surprised the final margin wasn’t bigger. Meaning that they didn’t play well enough to even be within five of us. That’s not sour grapes, that’s him saying they got beaten WORSE than the final score indicated.

Comment by maz. 10.03.08 @ 11:40 am

FreeBird,

You’re misusing the term ‘Royal We’. Unless your name is Wanny, Pederson, or Nordenbitch you can’t employ the Royal We.

Nice win for Pitt. Unfortunately, being a long time Pitt fan, I’m already getting a bad feeling about Navy in 2 week.

Comment by Oakland_Cloud_Factory 10.03.08 @ 11:48 am

No choking against Navy.

People are already calling this win the “fluke” and the Bowling Green win the rule and not the exception on some message boards I’ve seen.

Bullshit!

Our lines DOMINATED the action. I said before, Shady had room to run, and Stull had time to throw.

We weren’t even blitzing all that much, just rushing the front four and were STILL getting pressure on Grothe.

Flukes are when you fumble away games or give up a few bad big plays. But when your lines dominate like ours did last night, that’s the real thing.

BTW, did anyone go to the game last night? I’ve heard murmurs of some mistreatment of Pitt fans in Tampa.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 10.03.08 @ 11:55 am

Who would disagree with me that Baldwin was the difference-maker? The long threat opened it up for the run game.

Comment by steve 10.03.08 @ 11:58 am

Agreed Steve. How can you have a kid like Baldwin and not use him in most offensive packages?

Comment by Oakland_Cloud_Factory 10.03.08 @ 12:00 pm

I had some friends at the game and I’ll find otu.

Rhoads would have lost this game.

Go Pitt! I don’t want to be ranked before Navy – it will get in their heads. We never tell my daughter’s softball team if they’re winning their game, either.

Comment by Kevin 10.03.08 @ 12:01 pm

How anyone can blast a college president who has done as much for their athletic department as Nordenberg has, is beyond me. Anyone who can’t see that is an idiot, no offense intended. The basketball program has ascended to national prominence, he hired a super high profile coach for the football team. Regardless of whether or not you like Wannstedt 4 years later, EVERYONE was ecstatic when we hired him in the first place. It was a major coup. Ignoring those facts is just ignorant. Not to mention he swallowed some pride by re-hiring the best man for the AD position, even though he had left Pitt a few years back. Nordenberg has done a tremendous job rebuilding this athletic department.

Comment by Jake 10.03.08 @ 12:02 pm

Nordenberg is ideal as a President and probably as athletic friendly as you can be. Some people are just ignorant.

Comment by Billy West 10.03.08 @ 12:05 pm

Lou–you are right. The swinging gate with JB Gibboney and David Abdul lost us the Texas A and M game in 2002. I remember when Nick Lotz had trouble kicking extra points and his game winning field goal attempt was blocked by State Penn’s Lavarr Arrington. Special teams might help us win a couple this year that we couldn’t in the past.

I have a good feeling about the USF game. This is what they have been saving Cross for. We will throw the playbook at USF and they will be expecting Shady up the middle.

Comment by AJ 09.30.08 @ 12:45 pm

AJ-
You’re funny…I applaud the sense of humor. If you really think, after so much proof to the contrary, that Wannstedt and Cavanaugh will suddenly change coaching strategies they have both employed for years and years, you have mental problems. Then again, we ARE all thinking we could still win a Big East title somehow…but I can’t see them opening up at all.

Comment by merlin 09.30.08 @ 1:33 pm

Pitt 26-USF 21 NUFF SAID

Comment by AJ 10.03.08 @ 12:41 pm

Maz:

I think Leavitt was saying that USF played so badly and were still in the game. I took it as a slight at Pitt. Why not just say Pitt played better and deserved to win.

Comment by Omar 10.03.08 @ 12:55 pm

BTW, we’ve all bashed Stull, but he had a 66.7 completion percentage on 24 passes for about 230 yards and a TD.

That’s a good night’s work.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 10.03.08 @ 12:57 pm

Pitt made just about as many stupid mistakes as USF did, so I rule out the “fluke because USF screwed up” theory.

They had a pick, a blocked FG, and a failed fake FG.

We had a blocked punt, TWO fumbles, and that horribly botched fake punt…. not to mention Stull fumbling on the 2-pt conversion play.

So USF bumbling the game away is NO excuse because we actually out-bumbled them and still lost.

We won the game at the line of scrimmage, and that’s a VERY good thing.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 10.03.08 @ 12:59 pm

*and THEY still lost I should say.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 10.03.08 @ 1:00 pm

Sorry for the quadruple comment, but one more thing here.

Here in Tampa up until last night, USF could do no wrong. They were the little, new football team that fought their way onto the national scene and everything was warm and fuzzy towards them. They were a local “phenomenon”, complete with bandwagon fans and all.

But I notice the attitude has changed around here as of today.

Pitt has ended the Tampa-USF honeymoon.

Now people are calling for the offensive coordinator’s head, and even murmuring that Leavitt might not be the guy to lead the Bulls any further than they’ve already been.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 10.03.08 @ 1:05 pm

Agreed about Baldwin opening it up for the rushing game.

Anyone else have this feeling?: In the split second while Stull’s pass was in the air on the last scoring drive, I thought to myself “Holy $#@*, Turner is WIDE open! If he drops this pass, I’m going to kill him!” Luckily, he held on! Beautiful play.

Comment by Jake 10.03.08 @ 1:07 pm

Nordenbitch is no Donna Shalala. You guys should raise your standards of effective school leadership.

Comment by Oakland_Cloud_Factory 10.03.08 @ 1:11 pm

Sitting in Joe Robbie last night was awesome in spite of the ugly game. It’s a rare feeling for a Pitt fan to walk out of an opposing team’s stadium a winner. While I still have my doubts about the coaching staff, I’ll take the win.

I can’t wait to drive to Annapolis! I shall say no more as not to jinx myself.

Comment by Yeti 10.03.08 @ 1:15 pm

Jake, don’t speak for me. wanny had a mediocre head coaching record in the NFL and quit on the dolphins mid-season(though i don’t blame him for that). i was mildly optimistic, not “estactic” that he could take pitt to the “next level”. clearly walt couldn’t. last night notwithstanding, wanny’s 3+ years have been a huge disappointment on the field. btw, that’s a coaches job first and foremost…win football games.

Comment by Scott 10.03.08 @ 1:16 pm

We should all congratulate Turner on his game last night. He made a couple of huge catches. The criticism leading up until last night was deserved. Good game making huge possesion catches and that last pass play to him with yards after the catch was great. Hat Tip to Oderick!

Comment by Jason 10.03.08 @ 1:34 pm

I am guessing the Donna Shalala comment is a joke? Just like Miami’s football and basketball programs right now.

Comment by Billy West 10.03.08 @ 1:52 pm

great game, what did you guys think about the fake punt? Did you like it or not?

Comment by CRB 10.03.08 @ 1:55 pm

I guess it’s 2004 all over again. Pitt slugs it out in a weak Big East, then gets blown out by another Utah-type team in the BCS. And you guys RAN OFF Walt after that. Why the double standard?

Comment by Joshua 10.03.08 @ 2:21 pm

I’m still wandering if anyone thought the 3rd and 8 play where we ran McCoy instead of passing, then kicked a field goal to make it 20-14 was bad. I thought with the change in attitude of the coaches, they would be more daring than to go 6 up with less than 5 minutes remaining. It worked for us this time, but what about the next time????

Comment by BeanBoy 10.03.08 @ 2:32 pm

I thought the fake punt was a decent call, but we needed someone who could throw the ball 8 yards….. I’m not sure what Brytus was thinking.

Comment by BeanBoy 10.03.08 @ 2:34 pm

It was a good call… I think Brytus got a little worried about it and hence the bad pass. I’m sure they wouldn’t have tried it if he wasn’t making some decent throws in practice. I’m so thrilled we got Baldwin involved. I guess Wanny read my comment yesterday and realized it was time for him to show us he CAN improve and change and adopt as a head coach. Let’s see if he can realize this game was how we need to play and continue it throughout the rest of the year. ESPN said we’re the team to beat in the Big East this year now so let’s hope we play like it.

Comment by merlin 10.03.08 @ 2:38 pm

Joshua–Did you ever hear the saying “It is better to keep your mouth shut and let everyone think you are a fool rather than open it and remove all doubt.” IMO, you should ponder it carefully before making another post.

Comment by pitt1972 10.03.08 @ 2:43 pm

I was very impressed with the defense. Our D-line looked like the Steelers on a few plays. We even had Grothe dead on that long run of his but his shirt ripped and he slipped away. The O-line is alive and well. I think I saw them celebrating on one play…that was better than a baked potato with the works. It seems that they hit the bottom and now they are coming back up.

Solid playcalling and aggressiveness?, this part was the most rewarding. That is why people watch sports. We have taken small steps to get here but maybe it’s worth it. I am not saying that we have turned the corner and now we’re a lock to get a BCS bowl bid every year. Looking at the schedule though, I don’t see how we can lose if we play like we did last night. It’s a scary feeling, but I rather feel like this than feel like we’re still rebuilding after all these years.

Comment by Panthoor 10.03.08 @ 2:53 pm

pitt1972, right on!

Comment by Omar 10.03.08 @ 2:55 pm

I’m SORRY I had better things to watch last night than the Pitt game (namely, the you-know-what), but what I heard about the game STILL isn’t encouraging. As it is, USF looks to be overrated, or at least to my brother. And again, you didn’t rebut my point about Pitt possibly coming out of a weak Big East and potentially getting blown out by Boise State (that is, unless Oklahoma demands a rematch against Boise State).

Comment by Joshua 10.03.08 @ 4:20 pm

Joshua –

Why don’t you go find something “better to do” than come on a Pitt blog and criticize the team the day after they beat a top 10 team on the road. Do us all that favor…

Comment by Matt O 10.03.08 @ 4:58 pm

Joshua,

If you didn’t even see the game, I don’t see how you can diss the win. But I guess if you are basing your analysis on the expertise of your brother, then it makes sense why every post you have made on every Pitt blog in the last 2 months has been moronic and nothing but negative.

Last week you were making fun of Pitt for losing to Syracuse until Pitt won. This week you are making fun of Pitt for beating the no. 10 team in the country. It is clear that you hate Pitt. It is obvious that they can’t do anything to satisfy you. But the real issue is this: who cares what you think?

The Big East is weak. Big deal. So if Pitt loses in the Big East it is proof that they suck. If Pitt wins the Big East, it is proof that they suck because their conference sucks. I don’t think Pitt could beat a team like Oklahoma in a bowl game. But we don’t need them to. We just need them to give us a reason to believe they can win their next game. As long as they keep doing that, then they will eventually climb to a more “elite” status. Then again, Pitt manhandled WVU last year and WVU manhandled OU. So just maybe Pitt is actually a decent team that can beat decent teams.

Comment by The Prowler 10.03.08 @ 5:05 pm

Scott,

Ok, sorry for “speaking for you”. You were in the 1%-5% who were “mildly optimistic” as opposed to “ecstatic”. The fact remains…the fan base was pumped when the ‘stache got the job.

Comment by Jake 10.03.08 @ 5:26 pm

Joshua, spring the $9.95 per month and get a DVR -that way you can watch something that matters NOW, like the PITT game live, and something that matters a month from now at your leisure.

Oh, and you’re an ass.

Comment by Reed 10.03.08 @ 5:27 pm

Joshua–regarding your analogy to 2004: It clearly shows a lack of understanding. The 2004 team’s OL and DL got abused by Utah. This year’s OL and DL are light years better than what Pitt had in 2004. Yes, this year’s Pitt team could win a weaker BE and subsequently lose a bowl game, but, if that happens it is highly unlikely it will be the result of being abused at the LOS.

Comment by pitt1972 10.04.08 @ 12:47 am

Wanny is still a moron, and it’s obvious you-all still like to suck his dick. No wonder why the word yinzer is such a negative, because you DUMBASSES are the epitome of it! Let me put it this way: if you were a lifelong fan of the Raiders and Al Davis chose to go with Paul Hackett rather than Tom Cable, wouldn’t you be disgusted and go on a hatefest of Al Davis and Paul Hackett? You know what, it doesn’t matter, you’ll never get it, so why should I bother explaining this to MORONS? I HATE WANNSTEDT AND HOPE HE GETS TRAMPLED BY A PILE OF DOLPHINS AND BEARS!!!!!!!!

Comment by Joshua 10.04.08 @ 12:51 am

No, we don’t get it. Your analogy is fuckin’ retarded.

Comment by Dugdog 10.04.08 @ 1:07 am

Awwww, yinz hurted lil’ Joshy’s feewings! Him’s yellin’ now ‘cuz him’s sooooo upset. Yinz’re gonna make him cry, ya big meanies!

Comment by Shawn 10.04.08 @ 5:43 pm

Joshua is not worth getting your blood pressure up over. Let him have his buckhole and nitwit felon love, so don’t pay any attention to him.

Comment by IronmanEE68 10.04.08 @ 10:21 pm

Yes, but now we know who the green glitter guy with the USF students was!

Comment by square44 10.05.08 @ 10:25 pm

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