Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recapping the Press Conference

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.


J Jones said...

I watched it too and how is Wanny still caught off guard by most questions. He makes a face like he wouldn't expect anybody to ever ask him a question.

Brian Ising said...

Is that like how Wanny gets caught off-guard when the other team does something that they didn't show on tape? As if its illegal to come up with a new trick that your opponent doesn't have tape on (e.g. Bowling Green's crazy formation that baffled us).

Call me crazy, but I have a gut feeling that we are going to play a great game on Thursday. I expect more Baldwin and Cross (still no Nix) than we've seen. I think Wanny realizes that we need to pull out all the stops to beat these guys.

Cav flat-out said that the reason we didn't use Cross vs. BG and Buffalo was because we didn't think we have to. Yet against Iowa, they inserted Cross for a key play because they knew they needed to use a little creativity to beat Iowa.

They were again conservative against Syracuse because they could afford to be (barely). But I suspect they realize the task at hand and will be more willing to take chances.

Having said all that, will we win? I really doubt it, but I think this will be a better game than most people think.

Brian Ising said...

By the way, I just noticed this Wanny quote about Lucas Nix.

"We're hoping to play him more, and I think we will before it's all said and done. I've got confidence in Lucas. If Joe can't go or is limited, Lucas can play. He'll be fine."

I'll bet he doesn't see the field. Anyone want to bet against me?

johnny said...

Brian, I wouldn't touch your bet under normal circumstances, but since I don't know the extent to which Thomas got dinged up at the end of the Cuse game, maybe Nix gets a couple of snaps.

johnny said...

I also wish to note that I will be referring to Matt Grothe as "Goatse" from now until the end of the game. Because I'm classy that way.

That said, do you think we should have Fields or one of the safeties spy Goatse or would this leave Berry and Chappell too vulnerable in single coverage?

DPJ said...

I'm down for calling Grothe "Goatse". I won't even stop at this game, I'll do it for the rest of the season.

I don't think we should have a db do it only for the reason that he is very dangerous passing just like he is running. We were able to have linebackers in the past shadow Pat White but that is only because we're not afraid of his passing ability. Goatse on the other hand is a very good passer and could burn us if we were to have a db shadow him.

Now if we were to play the "nickel spy" (where you play a 4-2-5) and bring in either Buddy Jackson or one of our co-starter safeties that aren't playing I'd be fine with that too. I just don't see us breaking away from the base 4-3 too much this game in order to try and stop Bush from running all over us.

Luckily if there is one game where Austin Ransom could do well to shadow a guy, this is the game. Again though there are problems. Especially if they line up with an extra WR, TE, or throw the RB in motion to that side as the defensive coverage would have to change.

Lastly another option would be to insert a variation of the 3-4 but have Sheard or Romeus line up at linebacker and adjust to the stacked side should they line up that way. It would allow our faster ends to contain Goatse and throw a different look at USF which I'm sure they aren't expecting.

At the end of the day the logical choice would be to have Thatcher, Fields, and DiCicco on the field since we know Thatcher won't ever get pulled.