Navy A Must-Win Game

After three straight losses, the Pitt football team is starved for a win and can get it when Navy visits Heinz Field Wednesday night at 8.

"We've got to get one,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "So, yeah, it's important. You come out here and work real hard and put this much time into it. The thing that's frustrating is that you go out and you recruit good players, and they come here.

"So, we've got guys who want to win and are preparing to win, but we've just got to find a way to make it happen on the field. There's no other way to really put it than that.''

Wannstedt was also asked if the Pittsburgh administration has still expressed confidence in him and the football program, and his response was curt.

"I won't even respond to that,'' Wannstedt said.

There's no evidence yet that higher ups in the Panthers athletic department have given up on Wannstedt and his staff, and there's been no indication that the players are ready to mutiny, either.

"Every game's definitely going to be a challenge for us, but we have to take them one by one and not look ahead to any opponent,'' sophomore cornerback Aaron Berry said. "We have to go into the film room and prepare every week real hard and hopefully we'll come out with a victory against Navy.

"Nobody's really talking about Pitt right now. When you turn on ESPN, you never see Pitt on there, so this is a chance for us to really make a name for ourselves. We're 2-3 and down right now, but a win against Navy can bring us right back up. So, I feel that's what we're going to do.''

After two days of just conditioning and non-football work, the Panthers returned to full-contact practice Wednesday and Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning. Then, the Pitt staff broke for some recruiting trips to high school football games that night.

"I thought the focus was good, and the work was real good,'' Wannstedt said. "We got some real good work done in full pads, and we needed that to kind of get back in the groove. ... The extra work will come in handy.''

Freshman tailback LeSean McCoy welcomed a brief respite from the rigorous practice regimen during the first month of the season.

"These last few weeks were pretty tough for us, so I think this bye week has given us time to slow things down and try to get back on track,'' McCoy said. "Preparation is the most important thing right now, and we have to get healthy. We have some guys who are a little banged up, so we can use it to get guys healthy, too. ... But we can't give up on this season.

"There's still a light at the end of the tunnel, and we have to keep going. The team that went to the Fiesta Bowl a couple years back had a few games left, and they kept going. They worked hard, and they got it. So, it might look bad now, but it's time for us to step up. It's a big challenge for us, but we can do it. Once we start rolling again, it'll be good for us.''

McCoy echoed Wannstedt's sentiment that while practices have been excellent all along, something has changed when the team hits the field on game day. McCoy believed there was less focus, for whatever reason, during the games. And who could argue, since Pitt has committed penalties and turnovers galore the past few weeks.

"We just have to try to be consistent on offense, work on the little things, and try to limit our mistakes week after week,'' McCoy said. "If we can do that, we'll be fine. That's the one area that we need to keep working on. ... In practice, with referees here, we do all the right things and definitely are prepared for the games.

"But during the games, I just think we have to bring our focus from practice to them. You should be focused at both, but we have to be more focused during the games. The games, we just need to be even more focused, but this is just a hump that we need to get over. I think if we can get this win under our belt, a lot more of them might come easier.''

So, that makes this game against Navy a must-win situation for Pitt.

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