Monday Notebook

Pitt gets set for West Virginia on Friday. Four of the last six meetings have been determined by four points or less.

During Monday's Big East teleconference, Dave Wannstedt went over his allotted time slot--which is usually set from 11:20 to 11:30. He fielded enough questions in regards to Saturday's Backyard Brawl, that when it was time for Bill Stewart--who followed Wannstedt--Stewart was dismissed early because there were no reporters on the line with any questions for him.

"That's a first," Stewart joked. "I talked to my (reporters) yesterday. Maybe they're tired of me."

Antwuan Reed was called for pass interference four times in the game. After the game, Wannstedt said he would need to go back and look at the film to get a better idea of what Reed did wrong. Monday, he sounded more positive about Reed.

"The thing about Antwuan, that could have been, ‘Drive back in a car, and go back to Johnstown (Reed's hometown),'" Wannstedt said. "For him to keep fighting through it; his teammates like Ricky Gary and Dom DeCicco, everybody was supporting him. For him to keep competing and competing, and then he ends up getting an interception at the end to end it.

"We watched the tape we addressed it. (The officials) want to see four hands in the air. When one hand gets caught, you‘re going to call it."

As if this year's Backyard Brawl needs any more hype to it, it's Pitt's senior day, both teams will be playing in their Nike Combat uniforms, a share of the Big East title game is on the line for Pitt. Then there's just the fact that it's West Virginia--Pitt's biggest rival, a school just 70 miles away.

Does this year's game--with added incentives, perks and other things on the line--does it get to be too much?

"I love to play a game like this, this is what you live for," defensive end Jabaal Sheard said. "It's going to be a huge crowd. My family's going to be there. It's senior night for me. We have to step up and play our best. It's our last game in front of our home crowd."

Then there's another factor of getting revenge following last year's 19-16 West Virginia win in Morgantown, which came on a last second field goal.

"Last year's loss was (extra) motivation," corner Ricky Gary said. "We told ourselves we can't make that many mistake this year."

The previous three meetings, and four of the previous meetings, have all been decided by four points or less. The 2004 meeting, won 16-13 by Pitt, pushed Pitt ahead of the Mountaineers en route to the 2004 BCS bid. The Panthers needed a win in the regular season finale at South Florida the following week to clinch the bid. In 2007, the Panthers spoiled the Mountaineers hopes of playing in a national championship game with a 13-9 win at Morgantown.

The 2008 win, just like 2004, the win for Pitt only meant positioning in the standings for the Panthers. They needed a season finale win at UConn to tie for second in the Big East. They wouldn't have been able to claim that tie, without the West Virginia win. Last year, it worked the opposite way. The Panthers had to settle for a share of second place, after entering last year's Brawl undefeated in conference play.

"I want to say we fell into a trap (last year)," Sheard said. "We were looking more into Cincinnati , and getting ready for them. Before the game, we were really into it. At one point, we kind of thought we had it. It slipped through our hands, just like Cincinnati. This game, we have to go out and fight until the last whistle blows."

West Virginia's defense was the subject of a lot of talk in Monday's press conference. The Mountaineers have been stellar, allowing more than 20 points in just two games this season--a 24-21 win at Marshall, and a 20-14 loss at LSU. That might not be much of a factor in this game, as the winning team has not scored more than 20 points in each of the last three meetings.

The Mountaineers are allowing just 2.3 yards a carry, and have given up just three rushing touchdowns this season. They've only given up seven passing touchdowns, while picking off 11 passes. Ten touchdowns in 10 games. The Pitt offense definitely has a tough task at hand.

"It is different because of the three down linemen," Wannstedt said. "They do present your offense the challenge, particularly in a week like this--when you're one day short--preparing to block them. You combine that with the different style, with good players, it gives you problems."

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