Extra Time Has Paid Off

The Pitt football team had 10 days between its third straight loss and its matchup with Navy Wednesday night at 8 at Heinz Field, and head coach Dave Wannstedt believed the additional time would pay off on both sides of the line for the Panthers.

"With Pat (Bostick) at quarterback, it's given him a few extra practice days and preparation, which was needed,'' Wannstedt said. "The other thing, more importantly, is that it gave our defensive coaches and players a chance to zero in on a defensive game plane to defend Navy's offensive attack, which is different from a schematic standpoint.

"It's also different in the techniques that they use. It's been an interesting week, and I think our defensive coaches have done a great job of coming up with some ideas and some different things in practice to give our kids a chance to get as true a picture as you possibly can when you have a scout team running the offense.''

Wannstedt noted that due to Navy's high-scoring, ball-control offense, Pittsburgh (2-3) would need to score more than 28 points to beat the Midshipmen (3-2). And defensively, Wannstedt had an interesting thought about slowing down Navy.

"They're going to make first downs, and they're going to move the ball,'' Wannstedt said. "You don't want to give up the big play. They're going to have an eight-minute drive, and that's a win for us. If they can keep the ball for eight minutes and run 15 plays, I'll be the happiest guy in the world.

"That's how you defeat this offense. You make them earn every yard and eliminate the big plays. Another thing is that their quarterback can throw the ball, and they've got some speed at receivers. The thing that makes it so challenging is that you can't commit everybody to (stop) the run.''

While much has been discussed about Pitt's offense and its freshmen, quarterback Pat Bostick and tailback LeSean McCoy, the offensive line will be as critical to the Panthers' success as any group against Navy. Wannstedt believed Pitt's O-line has also improved the past 10 days.

"That's going to be a work in progress all year, but they're working hard,'' Wannstedt said. "We're rotating Joe Thomas and (John) Bachman at right guard. (Mike) McGlynn is more comfortable at the right tackle. ... We've been working Chase Clowser (at right tackle), he's our swing tackle right now.

"We're thin there, but we've been working out with (Jordan) Gibbs and John Fieger and some of these freshmen, Alex Karabin. If they have to play, we're going to play them. We're going to do what we have to do to win the games, and hopefully we'll come together for this game.''

If the line gives him some time, Bostick could get to throw the ball more consistently than he has in past games when he went to the air after the Panthers got behind.

"We're going to come out of this game balanced and mix it up,'' Wannstedt said. "Pat (Bostick) has had some very good practices. I believe he is into it and understands what we're doing. He's looking forward to the opportunity.''

And it wouldn't hurt for Pitt to get the ball first and score a touchdown on the opening drive.

"It would be great from a confidence standpoint,'' Wannstedt said. "Forget about how it affects our defense and how it affects them. From a confidence standpoint, to be able to drive the ball down the field and put it in the end zone is something that we need desperately.

And with the extra time to work on its game, Pitt might make that happen.

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