McCoy Wants To Do More

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt had all the faith in the world in LeSean McCoy when the freshman tailback joined the Panthers, but there were two things that he wanted McCoy to prove before he could be trusted to carry the load.

"One was for him to know what to do,'' Wannstedt said. "Is he mentally mature enough and able to handle everything as a freshman, and the other was if he was tough enough to run up in there and hold onto the ball. And he's proven both of those things.''

LeSean McCoy actually proved a lot to the nation after his 25-carry, 172-yard, one-touchdown performance this past Saturday at Michigan State, and he ranks fourth in the Big East with an average of 115 yards per game.

McCoy had 19 carries for 107 yards and three touchdowns in his first full game after junior LaRod Stephens-Howling was injured early against Grambling. McCoy started at MSU and could start again this week, but Stephens-Howling is healthy again and could regain his spot.

"He's played well in the first quarter of this season, and he's done a nice job with everything that we've asked him to do,'' Pittsburgh running backs coach David Walker said. "The thing I was most impressed with from him on Saturday is just his composure, on the road, touching the ball the bulk of the time in the second half, just the way he handled himself.

"So, I was impressed by his composure in that situation. ... He's still a work in progress, but through the first three games he's done everything that we've asked him to do. (But) it's so early, and I've only had a month to coach the kid. The thing about him is that he's such a willing kid, and he handled what we put on him. So, we can give him some more things to do now.''

That would be just fine with McCoy. His amazing second-half performance included running extensively in Pitt's new "Wildcat'' formation where he took direct snaps from center. As expected, McCoy enjoyed this new wrinkle to the Panthers' regular offense.

"We want to switch it up to give defenses another look, from a real quarterback to a running quarterback, and that should give a defense a lot to think about,'' McCoy said. "And I really love it. It's something new for me. ... It was working effectively when we used it in the third quarter, so it was in the game plan. And I was up for it.

"I'm the type of player, I'm down with the coach. Whatever he wants me to do, I'll do it for him. Wherever he wants me to play, the line, receiver, kicker, I'll do it. We watched a lot of tape on it, and we've been going over this for a long time. Now, we're adding things to it, and we're pretty good with it now. It's definitely different for me.

"(Just) looking to read where everybody is is different,'' McCoy added, "but I think it's a little easier to get the ball from a direct snap. You see everything happen, and it's definitely a little different. I never ran it before (like Dorin Dickerson did in high school). In high school, our offense, we ran the same offense that we run here.''

Walker said that the Panthers still run their same offense, it's just disguised with a different formation, namely, the Wildcat. And with Stephens-Howling back this week, more could be expected from the formation. McCoy, for one, can't wait for more variations.

"Having LaRod back is a big help for us, because that's two weapons,'' McCoy said. "And we have other weapons out there, so that's a big help. He can be at quarterback or me at quarterback, and the other guy can be a running back. So, that's going to be a big help to our offense.''

And after going 0-for-12 on third downs and generally struggling in the passing game, Pitt's offense could use some help.

"We can't turn the ball over, and we've got to ... finish teams off,'' McCoy said. "So many things happened during that game on third down, and you might point the finger at Kevan Smith. But it wasn't all his fault. He missed some reads, but we have to execute better as an offense overall.''

And continue to give the ball to McCoy.

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