Heralded quarterback Pat Bostick left before practice even began, only to return eight days later and not really compete for the starting job that many had him destined to earn. Also, one week in, senior wideout and team leader Derek Kinder went down for the season with a knee injury.
A lesser team might have folded. The one that finished 5-6 in Dave Wannstedt's first year as the head coach and the one that went 6-6 last season might have packed it in early, but not this Pittsburgh group that ended three weeks of training camp Friday on a high note.
"It always can be worse, and it always can be better,'' Wannstedt said. "That's what I've learned after 33 years of coaching. It's never as good and never as bad as what the situation is, and that's how training camp went.
"But as the head coach, these players are going to watch how I react. And it's obviously my job to keep this ship steady and to keep it straight, and that's what we did. And guys stepped up.''
Some believe that Wannstedt is on the proverbial hot seat this season to finish at least with better than a .500 record, but Pitt athletic director Jeff Long gave him a vote of confidence and Wannstedt believed that he didn't have to answer to anyone but his players.
"It's for these guys on this field,'' Wannstedt said. "There's a lot of people involved in it, but we're doing everything we can. ... Things never happen as fast as you'd like them to, but as long as you're moving forward you feel OK about things.
"And that's where we're at right now. Our kids are dealing with things pretty well. I like our team, and I like our attitude. I think we've made some adjustments in the offseason that will help us, and that's all you can do.''
Wannstedt then quoted former Steelers coach Chuck Noll, who said: "Pressure is something you feel when you don't know what the heck you're doing. And I promise you that I know exactly what I'm doing,'' Wannstedt said. "I'm just doing things the way that I believe they should be done.
"Whether people think it's the right way or wrong way, I don't really care. I'm to the point where I know that I'm representing this University right. I know how to build a program and what it takes. I know that our chancellor is on board with that, and I know that our athletic director is on board with that. And I know that our football players are on board with that.''
The Panthers got some good news Friday, as fifth-year senior Mike McGlynn returned to full-time duty. He finally was cleared to participate in all team drills and should be ready to go for the opener Sept. 1. He will work at center and tackle to see where he best fits in.
"Mike's going to take a step today,'' Wannstedt said. "Mike's going to start blocking today. He's been doing all the pass-blocking, but today he's going to do the run-blocking. And we'll just take it a day at a time.''
Redshirt sophomore defensive end Doug Fulmer has not yet been cleared. Wannstedt said that he is progressing well, but "probably still a month away.''
Wannstedt also praised the depth on his team for the first time in two years, and how much freshman wideout Maurice Williams took advantage of additional work the past week or so and has been extremely exciting.
"The guy's caught more deep balls for touchdowns than I think all of our other wideouts put together,'' Wannstedt said. "When that happens once, you say that may happen. But when it happens repeatedly over a period of time, there's usually something there that's real. So, (Kinder's injury) gave him an opportunity, and he took advantage.''
Pitt also began game-planning a bit for Eastern Michigan, its opener Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. at Heinz Field.
Camp Ends On High Note
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