Pitt Hopes To Build On Win

Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt believed that his team remained positive throughout a recent four-game losing streak, but the Panthers couldn't help but notice a difference when they arrived at their practice facility for meetings and film work Sunday night.

And the Pittsburgh players hope that attitude carries them through this week's game. The Panthers (3-4 overall, 1-1 in the Big East) face Louisville (4-4, 1-2) Saturday at noon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky.

"Every week, the preparation has been the same, but this week with us coming off a victory, I think we'll have a little more pep in our step,'' redshirt junior middle linebacker Scott McKillop said. "Everyone is a lot more enthused, so hopefully this week we can build on that victory and come out this week and get ready to play another good game like we did this past Saturday.''

"I think the win last Saturday, hopefully, will help us grow as a team. We're in the Big East now for the rest of our games, and there's no off week. Every team that we play is just as good as any other team that we play, so we look forward to the challenge. I just hope we can play even better this week.''

Pitt played as well against Cincinnati on both sides of the ball as it had all season, but fifth-year senior center Chris Vangas believed it was only a matter of time for the Panthers.

"Coming in here on Sunday night's before this week, it was tough to come in and watch film and sit through meetings,'' Vangas said. "This week, I think everybody was looking forward to coming in and watching film and getting ready to practice this week for Louisville. Hopefully, this will get us going.

"We know what kind of team we have, and the previous few games wasn't typical of the way we can play. We played a lot better against Cincinnati, and hopefully this will give us some momentum here in our Big East schedule. We just have to keep going out there and doing what we've been doing. We're playing a lot better now, and we're looking forward to the next game.''

Wannstedt believed it was all a matter of confidence.

"(After four straight losses), if you don't fight through the mental battles and really separate reality from perception, it's easy as coaches and players to suddenly start believing that you're not very good and you can't win a game and you can't go out and make plays,'' Wannstedt said. "We were kind of at the crossroads of that juncture.

"And by winning the game and having some of our guys go out there and do some good things, I think it reinforced that more than anything. The work ethic has not changed. They won't approach this week any different than they did (past weeks), but hopefully deep inside they do get that believing feeling back that they can go out and make some plays and win a game.''

Wannstedt noted that the victory even helped his knee and Achilles feel better despite it being less than a week after surgery. But he and the players are already looking ahead to the Louisville game, according to redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Shane Murray.

"Win or lose, we knew we had Louisville and another tough game coming up this week, but to have a win under our belts helps to bring back some swagger and some confidence to know that we can come out and win against a good team,'' Murray said. "And if we give that same effort, even better this time, we can get another win this week.''

Wannstedt noted that it wouldn't be difficult to get the players to move past the Cincinnati win and focus on Louisville.

"I think we have enough veteran guys and enough coaches (to keep the team focused), and that's my job to make sure that everybody understands,'' Wannstedt said. "We have to set the tempo in practice, which we will. I think we have good seniors that have already turned the page.

"These young kids, I don't know if it's confidence and winning and all that stuff as much as it is an opportunity to play. Every one of them (young players) to a man, they're just so excited about playing. So, I don't think that the win will affect them as much as another opportunity to play.''

Notes: Redshirt junior PK Conor Lee is the Big East special teams player of the week. Lee, the Conference leader with 10 of 11 field goals made, kicked three in the win against Cincinnati. ... Wannstedt said that redshirt junior John Bachman will start at RG if Joe Thomas (hamstring) can't go. ... The head coach isn't sure if he'll have to watch this game from the press box, but he has not yet been cleared for the field. ... The Pitt-Syracuse game Nov. 3 at Heinz Field is set for a noon start as the Big East game of the week.

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