Panthers Not Giving Up

While many fans might be giving up on the Pitt football team right now, the Panthers aren't giving up on themselves.

Pittsburgh is 2-3 after three straight losses, but Coach Dave Wannstedt believed that the Panthers still looked forward to the remaining games.

"We've got some great leaders here,'' Wannstedt said. "The older players understand that they need to constantly encourage the younger players, and everybody needs to make sure that they're playing as good as they can possibly play and not really worry about (anything else).

"The guys just need to focus on playing their positions and doing the best that they can. And our guys are good. We had a great workout (Tuesday) and great meetings, and they're anxious to get back in that win column.''

Sophomore wideout Nate Byham did not believe there was a problem with confidence on the team. In fact, the Panthers are even more united since their recent struggles.

"I feel that we've been working hard all year, but I think we're working even harder now,'' Byham said. "We're putting more time and effort into our film watching and practice time. The guys that I know and me personally, I'm not a loser, and I don't enjoy this at all.

So, I'm going to to what I can to get us out of this hole as fast as possible. ... I feel like I've become more of a leader to help the guys stay together. I feel that a lot of people are emerging from this and coming together, so I really believe we're even closer now than before.''

The majority of Pitt players, Byham noted, were on winning programs in high school and were not used to the mediocrity that has prevailed since Wannstedt took over two seasons ago. And he did not believe the losing would be prevalent for much longer.

"We're not used to this, so we don't want to adapt to this,'' Byham said. "We want to change this and get out of this hole as fast as we can. And there's a lot of guys in the locker room who are getting fed up with stuff and want to take care of stuff, and hopefully we can get everything straightened out so we can go out and win games.''

Sophomore cornerback Aaron Berry agreed.

"The season's not over yet,'' Berry said. "We've got seven games left, so we've just got to keep fighting. We can either give up now or keep fighting and try to make it to a bowl game. ... It doesn't seem like anybody wants to quit. Everybody wants to go to a bowl game, because Pitt hasn't been there for two years, so it would be nice to get Pitt back to the winning ways.

"I don't feel like anybody's being complacent on this team. Maybe they are out in the city or with our fans, but everybody on this team wants to win and wants to bring Pitt back to the tradition that it's known for. ... So, I believe we're going to keep working hard to try to get us to a bowl game.''

Talking about a bowl game would seem to be quite a lofty goal for a team that hasn't been able to get out of its own way the past two weeks. The penalties and turnovers have come at an alarming rate, but freshman running back LeSean McCoy believed the attitude was even more positive now than it was before the season began.

"A lot of people are against us now, so all we really have is ourselves,'' McCoy said. "It's the team. It's sad to say, but I think all this adversity has made us more of a team. I think if we buckle down and stay together, we can fight back and win this thing.

"We just have to keep doing things the right way. The little things have to be stressed every day, you have to start with those first. We need to prepare the best we can, doing the extra stuff, and it'll work out in a game. When you put yourself in a big hole like we've been doing, it's hard to come back from that. So, we have to come out fighting from the very beginning to the end.''

Pitt is idle until facing Navy (3-2) Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Heinz Field.

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