FOOTBALL: 2005 In Review

The Pittsburgh Panthers struggled in Dave Wannstedt's first season at the helm. The Panther Report takes a look at the season that was and a quick look to the future of Panther Football.

GAME OF THE YEAR: Pittsburgh's victory at home over South Florida on Oct. 15 proved to be the turning point for a season that could have easily slipped into the abyss. The Panthers, 2-4 entering the game, came up with a gritty 31-17 win that improved their record to 2-1 in the Big East and paved the way for a second-half surge.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LB H.B. Blades -- The junior turned into a tackling machine this fall. He led the Big East with 121 tackles, an average of 11 per game, and was the unquestioned heart and soul of a unit that steadily improved throughout the season.

RAPID REVIEW: Pittsburgh never recovered from a terrible 0-3 start that caused many around the country to question whether first-year coach Dave Wannstedt was the right man for the job. Wannstedt answered his critics by going 5-3 the rest of the way. But it still added up to a sub-.500 season.

FAST FORWARD: Pittsburgh already has verbal commitments from a number of highly touted recruits and is expected to start the 2006 season with one of the Big East's best incoming classes. The offense is young, and the Panthers need to add beef to a porous defense line and find replacements in a secondary that will graduate starters at safety and cornerback.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I couldn't be more pleased with where we're going and where Dave believes he's going to take us. I think he believes, as I do, that he's going to have the kind of program that (can recruit) the best players in the area. That's the kind of guy we wanted when we brought him here to coach the team." -- Pittsburgh AD Jeff Long on coach Dave Wannstedt and the direction of the Pitt program.


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