It is almost as if Wannstedt is reading the blogs and message boards with some of the changes we are seeing. This week it was announced that Jarred Holley will be starting at safety. This is a move that almost all Pitt fans have been asking for as he has proven he is probably the best safety we have at the moment. I don't think that we will see Fields moved to linebacker at any point as we probably need Holley to move to cornerback next year along side either Buddy Jackson or Antuan Reed.
After the USF game there were a bunch of fans saying that Fields was playing linebacker. I hate to break it to those fans, but even coach Wannstedt said that we were playing a nickel package. That's right folks, the defensive scheme that Jones, myself, and other fans have been legitimately screaming for since he took over was finally implemented. We game planned for USF perfectly by switching to that package because you could tell USF was completely unprepared for it. By having the extra defensive back in the game as well as using Adam Gunn to spy the quarterback the entire game, it shut down the USF offense. Don't be surprised if we do the exact same thing against Cincy later in the year. To be honest, I wouldn't mind if we used that package all season long. Fields seems to play best by moving around and being able to make plays on the ball instead of being set in specific positions for the package. I also believe it is more of an upgrade having him out there as the 5th DB versus having Max Gruder as the 3rd linebacker.
Speaking of linebackers, Dan Mason was finally moved to the outside. This has 2 positives and 1 negative associated with it. The first positive is that Adam Gunn has played extremely well showing that Jason and I were completely wrong when we felt that Mason should start over him. Gunn has been the most improved player in the conference this year and really has excelled as the middle linebacker. The second positive is that the staff trusts Mason to still be the back up in the middle if needed, but to also give him a chance to learn to play the outside spot (even though Dell is listed as the back up). Mason is one of the most talented players on the defensive roster and when it is all said and done, will be one of the better players in Pitt history.
The negative of all of this is that Max Gruder has been very disappointing this year. It has gotten to the point where now we have to consider other options to try and have someone ready should he continue to struggle. I always root for all of the Pitt players to succeed, but I'm pulling for Gruder extra hard because we really need him to step up for Pitt to have an even stronger defense.
With those changes plus us finally utilizing our play makers (especially Dorin) and not asking players to do things they are not capable is showing that, Wannstedt is adapting. There will always be things we disagree with, but this 2009 is showing that we finally have an upper level of talent that is being coached correctly and using appropriate play calling.
We have a long way to go this year, but as long as we don't revert back to our old ways, there's no reason to believe that we shouldn't be able to achieve our goal.