Luckily class was canceled for me since my professor was nice enough to let me use her Steeler tickets. Then she was nice enough to cancel the class to allow me some time to sleep, so that means we'll get to take a look at the Dave Wannstedt press conference.
It was interesting to note that when Dave started the presser, after he congratulated Lee for being named special teams player of the week, he said he was going to focus on USF. That plan must not have worked out as the reporters were focusing upon some of the plays from last week against Syracuse.
I'm not shocked anymore when Wannstedt comes out and says "we're not where we need to be". At least this week, he didn't throw out any fake percentages, he just said we aren't where we need to be. He didn't say where we needed to improve or how we were going to improve, he only stated he thought we weren't where we needed to be yet.
Paul Zeise asked an interesting question referring to how at one point under Dave we were 1-9 vs D1A teams and now in our last ten we are 6-4. Wannstedt appeared to be confused by that question and responded with "we have a few extra guys who made a few extra plays". I'll just take that as a non-answer.
The question about Shane Murray's status came up again. Luckily Dave says that "Shane will play some more" but then we were given a lecture about how Austin Ransom has been playing "tremendously" and that his play on special teams and in the nickel package has been "invaluable' all season long. I'd much rather have Murray out there. While he isn't the best linebacker in the world, I believe he is a much better option than Ransom. Shane needs to play a minimum of 50% of the plays this week and then even more against Navy on the 18th.
This week was also the first time I've heard some criticism of Bill Stull from Dave Wannstedt. He said that Bill was not playing fundamentally sound by remaining poised in the pocket, using good footwork, and not going through the right progressions. Just as I thought a valid point was being made, Wannstedt added that it only happened while Stull was under pressure. I am glad however that we addressed a problem here that is one that could eventually lose us a game or two.
This weeks approach to the game (and this is word for word from Wannstedt): "Don't worry about the score, don't worry about the score board. Just be the best team you can be for 3 hours. At the end of the day what matters is how you played, not what the score is".
Oh boy. While I believe he has half of that right, as a Pitt fan I believe the score matters. As a coach or player for Pitt, I would imagine that the score probably matters than anything else. Let me give you some examples. Last year against Louisville in basketball at home, our team played almost flawlessly. We shot near 50% and only had 4 turnovers all game. Despite that, Louisville played the perfect game and beat us by 2. No one was happy that we played well despite the fact that we lost. Everyone was upset that we did not come through and lost the game. Now, last night the Steelers played like garbage in the 1st half. Baltimore was beating the Steelers pretty soundly, but the Steelers made plays when they needed to. The outcome was a 23-20 overtime victory. Just like Ben Roethlisberger said last night, "we played terribly, but when it mattered we got the points we need to win".
I'm not a big fan of moral victories, I'm a fan of victories. I believe we need to do whatever it takes to win the game. Shady could have 3 fumbles, Stull could throw 2 interceptions and Grothe could throw for 500 yards against us, but as long as we won that is all that matters. I would much rather talk about where we need to improve after a win (like we did with Syracuse) instead of trying to figure out how we can minimize our mistakes after a loss (like Bowling Green).
Also this week, the subject of Jonathan Baldwin and Lucas Nix was brought up. Dave said that it was unfair to the older guys like Joe Thomas to have them out of the game for a freshman. He also cited inexperience and mistakes as reasons of why they could not play. Luckily someone in the audience pointed out that Baldwin caught the 2 point conversion pass and almost broke a screen pass on a 3rd and forever into a first down. The only response Dave Wannstedt had for that was that we were on a 3rd down and wanted to do a safe play where we would not lose any yardage. I wish someone would have pointed out the continual bad play of Turner and asked about that, unfortunately we were left with a non-answer.
The vibe from this press conference really gives off the impression that Wannstedt knows what our limitations are, but he refuses to address and change to fix those weaknesses. I really don't think Greg Cross will get any significant playing time, and neither will Baldwin or Nix. I'm also afraid that this team is not being given any motivation to go out and upset this team. If the team does not believe we can win, then there is no way we will win. We need to come out angry and play like it is us against the world just as we did last year vs WVU. I just hope that on Friday morning there are a ton of comments telling me that I was wrong.