"I think this football team has the mentality that other guys will step in and step up, and we'll do what we have to do to win,'' Wannstedt said.
That mindset will be important against Grambling, Pitt's opponent Saturday at noon at Heinz Field, because the Panthers will start either redshirt freshman Kevan Smith or freshman Pat Bostick for injured quarterback Bill Stull (right thumb surgery). Smith's first action was last week when Stull was injured. He went 2-for-4 for 18 yards in slightly more than one quarter.
"I wouldn't use the word concerned,'' Wannstedt said, "but I'm cautiously optimistic that these guys will get in there and perform better than any of us think. Billy Stull did that, quite frankly, when he stepped in there and performed at a better level than what I thought he was going to.
"And (redshirt junior) Scott McKillop did that (at middle linebacker). So, anybody who has had to step up, that's kind of been the trademark of this team, and I believe it'll happen at quarterback. (And) Billy's been great. He's been at every meeting, very upbeat and positive, and if it was up to him he'd be out there trying to throw it with his other hand this week.''
So, Pittsburgh is about as well prepared as it can be for Grambling State University, which isn't in Division I-AA anymore since it's not called that. It's the NCAA's Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Whatever level they play in, the Tigers certainly won't be taken lightly by Pitt.
"I respect everybody I play,'' fifth-year senior cornerback Kennard Cox said. "I don't care who I line up against. It can be my son's Little League team. I'm going to respect them, everybody, but we've been out there working hard. And we just can't let anybody outwork us.
"This type of program at Grambling State, you know, they have a couple athletes from Florida, and they have a couple athletes from Georgia. There's no sleepers in college football, so you have to just keep pushing on and do what you need to do to win the game. And that's what we're gonna do.''
Cox and several other players who were interviewed believed that Smith will get the start this week, one that he earned as the backup to Stull. But Wannstedt said that both quarterbacks should play this week.
"Yes, I'd like to see both of them play, to be quite honest with you,'' Wannstedt said. "Whether that will happen or not, who knows? But they've both prepared well, and we've pretty much split it down the middle from a rep standpoint in practice.
"And that's not ideal. You'd really like the starter to get about 70 percent of the work, and your backup 30. But under these circumstances, I think this is the best thing for the kids and the best thing for our team. And I'm happy with how it's gone so far.''
Wannstedt added that Pitt's defense has thrown a lot at the two quarterbacks in an attempt to get them ready for anything this week.
"They've both done a good job,'' Wannstedt said. "They really have. I think we've tried to make it as difficult on them as possible, but I think it's important not to try to fool them. But you want to try to pressure them and give them some different looks.
"If you're going to face a freshman, you want to try to force them into making some bad plays. So, that's been our approach as far as our preparation has gone this week. And we've gone through each situation with each kid, and both of them have done a good job.''
Notes: Wannstedt said that every player is healthy and ready to play except redshirt sophomore TE John Pelusi, who banged up his shoulder last week against EMU, and he is listed as "day-to-day.'' However, he did not practice all week and isn't likely to play. ... Sophomore CB Aaron Berry is healthy now, but he will not start. Redshirt freshman Ricky Gary will start his second straight game. Berry is likely to play, though, when extra DBs are used.
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