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September 1, 2009

It’s back to school week here. Needless to say, getting readjusted to things is a process.

As Paul Zeise noted, one of the things from the Coach Wannstedt press conference was how much Wannstedt stressed that the players behind the starters on the 2-deep would get a shot. I wanted to give voice to the skepticism of that, but Zeise beat me to it in his Q&A.

Q: How diligently do you expect Wannstedt to stick to his depth chart? In his defense, he has left himself a degree of flexibility, but do you feel like any of those aforementioned guys will get legitimate playing time (Sunseri, Jacobsen, Mason or Fields)?

ZEISE: What have we seen from Dave Wannstedt in four years? A lot of guys are “going to get into the game” and yet never seem to because the “flow of the game didn’t allow us a chance to get him in.” So while I can appreciate his desire to keep everyone happy and give everyone hope, I am not going to buy the “our depth chart is 55 players deep and everybody plays!!!!” approach he took yesterday at the news conference. Perhaps this week everyone will get into the game but that’s only because I expect Pitt to smash Youngstown State and thus in the second half it will be “empty the bench” time. I do believe that Elijah Fields will split time with Andrew Taglianetti. But when it comes to Sunseri, Jacobson and Mason, well, let’s just say we will have to see it to believe it.

Um anyone else remembering the response seemingly every week to one particular player’s time in the game? Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross, Greg Cross. There I think I got that out of my system.

Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, a Panther Nation turns its jaundiced eyes to you. Give us some reason to believe that this will be different. That it was simply the groupthink of Wannstedt and Cavanaugh that reinforced each other’s world view on the offensive approaches and use of personnel.

Now I actually have faith that Dan Mason will see action. Everything about him that has been written and observed says that he is too good not to be out there. It’s at that QB spot, where the curiosity lies.

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt vowed to get Tino Sunseri into “as many games as we can,” but one detail remains in the air.

When, exactly, the redshirt freshman quarterback will play.

“Nothing is scripted out,” Wannstedt said. “We will see how the game unfolds.”

/deep sigh

Remember last year’s team motto? “Prove it.” Turned rather painful after losing to BGSU in the season opener. Players to a man swore they didn’t take the game for granted. Welcome to (almost) revisionism.

“I can almost say we overlooked (Bowling Green),” Gunn said. “We’re making sure we don’t do that against Youngstown State.”

Added Stull, “After that happened, it really struck some light onto us. We want to finish each game and focus on those little details.”

Credit to Coach Wannstedt. He isn’t buying that.

“We’ve talked about that,” Wannstedt said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of taking anybody lightly. It’s a matter of going out there and being focused and playing as good as you can play. We lost to Bowling Green last year because we turned the football over. We didn’t tackle well. We’ve got to go out there and protect the football and we need to tackle. If you do those things, you’re going to have a chance to win every week, whether it is Youngstown State or West Virginia.”

“I don’t think it’s a matter of taking anybody lightly. It’s a matter of going out there and … playing as good as you can play.”

Stopping the aggressive offensive playcalling after going up 14-0 and poor defensive schemes to a team that was entirely reliable on the QB running and passing didn’t help.

Johnny Majors will be in town for the kickoff luncheon and will sign autographs on Saturday. (Okay Pat, I’ll say it) Remember, Sharpies and markers don’t stay on non-porous surfaces like metal flasks and bottles of Jack Daniels.

Chas – you can add Lucas Nix and Jonathan Baldwin to the list of players that were slated to play more each week, but didn’t because of the “flow of the game”. Baldwin did start playing more towards the end of the season.

As for Bowling Green, remember that 3 of the 4 turnovers came after Pitt was losing in the 2nd half. That certainly doesn’t help when you are trying to play catchup, but the turnovers do not explain why Pitt was in such a close game with a team that they appeared to be physically dominating for the first 20 minutes. If one thing changes this year, my hope is that they will not take the air out of the ball, figuratively speaking, once they get a lead. Score, score, then score some more…

Comment by Pantherman13 09.02.09 @ 8:09 am

they never used this as an excuse … but BG ran a few misdirection passes to their (wide-open) backs in key moments of the 4th quarter; just wonder how the inexperience of their OLBs (this was after Gunn’s injury) affected this. Of course, the other part was the offense not being able to penetrate beyond the 35 yd line in the 2nd half.

I believe the o-line is the biggest factor when it comes to developing offensive flow — along with the defense getting off the field quickly.

FYI — CJ Davis was placed on IR by Carolina. He had injured his ankled and saw no preseason action.

Comment by w Bill 09.02.09 @ 8:19 am

Can’t we skip the term “Panther Nation”? It’s used by Florida. How about Panther Town which cements our ties to the ‘burgh,….much more interesting than the nation!

Comment by Pat 09.02.09 @ 8:43 am

some good news…

Sheard ready to go

Starting defensive end Jabaal Sheard missed most of the last 10 days of camp with a knee injury, but Wannstedt said Sheard was held out mostly as a precautionary move.

He returned to practice Sunday and was in full pads and running at full speed and, according to Wannstedt, will start and play Saturday in the opener against Youngstown State.

Read more: link to

Comment by Snala the Panther 09.02.09 @ 8:54 am

I agree with Pantherman13. I think in the college game you keep your foot on the pedal. Wanny has to get out of his NFL “milk-the-clock” mindset. Hopefully, Frank will provide this change and Wanny won’t fight it… GO PITT!!!!!!!

Comment by Pittastic 09.02.09 @ 9:17 am


You really think Florida came up with the idea to use “Nation” first?

Ever hear of Steeler Nation? Red Sox Nation? Raider Nation? Teams that are successful (and some that are not) have used the term for decades.

Comment by maz. 09.02.09 @ 10:52 am

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