Don't Tug On This Guy's Cape

LeSean McCoy isn't faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound or see through things with his X-ray vision.

LeSean McCoy is known more for quickness than blazing speed and certainly has been known to hurdle a linebacker or two. And while there likely isn't a need to see through anything on the football field, his amazing peripheral has helped him elude more than a few would-be tacklers.

And when describing several McCoy performances as a freshman tailback last fall at Pittsburgh, one certainly could use the term super-human. So, it should come as no surprise that when McCoy removed his practice jersey following a recent training camp practice, there was a blue and red T-shirt underneath that sported a large letter S on the front.

"That was my brother's, but I really liked it,'' McCoy said. "So, I stole it from him, and I've had it since high school.''

It's probably a safe bet that McCoy won't add a red cape to his wardrobe, but fourth-year Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt believes that his talented tailback made improvements since last season nonetheless.

"He showed up last May (2007) as a very talented player,'' Wannstedt said. "However, he didn't even know the snap count of our offensive system. I would like to believe that from an intelligence standpoint of knowing our offense, he's a lot more comfortable. That will enable us to do a lot more things with him.

"I think, in his own way, he's becoming a leader on the team with the energy he brings and the way he approaches things. This is also the first full offseason program he's ever been a part of, so I'm sure he's stronger and in better shape. He understands the finer points of the game better, too. So, I expect him to be an overall better player.''

McCoy conceded that he weighs about 215 pounds this season, a little more than last year, but he's also stronger and a little quicker, too. Look out, Big East. Not that McCoy needs an introduction to Pitt's opponents this season.

McCoy was selected as a first-team all-conference performer and freshman All-American. Some are even listing him in early Heisman Trophy lists. But through it all, McCoy has remained humble, yet quite gregarious on and off the field.

"I don't worry too much about the hype right now, because we have a lot going on here with camp,'' McCoy said. "But when you have the talent that we have on offense and the way we played on defense, I'm not surprised at it. But we just have to play one game at a time, and it'll all play out for us.

"As far as the hype for me, I don't know if I deserve it or whatever. But I'm just going to do the best I can for this team. I'll carry the ball as much as they need me, catch passes, run the Wildcat, whatever. If I do good, then the team does good, and that's what I'm looking for. I just want to win.''

While there are no guarantees, many believe that Pitt will win more often than not this season, after losing records in Wannstedt's first three years back at his alma mater. And certainly McCoy's success should translate into success for the Panthers this fall. However, it doesn't appear that will be the lone factor.

Pitt returns the majority of its nationally-ranked defense and appears to be much more balanced on offense with the return of redshirt junior quarterback Bill Stull and fifth-year senior wideout Derek Kinder, who missed last season with injuries. Actually, Stull played a little more than a half, but from there on out the Panthers offense was guided by two freshmen quarterbacks. And the offense eventually relied on McCoy runs as the main way to move the sticks.

"I had a pretty good first season, but we have a lot of talent on offense this year,'' McCoy said. "One player doesn't have to do it all. With Bill Stull coming back and (Derek) Kinder, we're looking to air it out a little more with all our talented wideouts and tight ends. That's going to take pressure off the backs.

"And talking about our backs, we have a lot of talent there, too. Along with me, we have Hot Rod (LaRod Stephens-Howling), Conredge Collins, Kevin Collier and Shariff (Harris). A really good group. It's tough to run against eight in the box, but with the overall talent that we have on offense we'll loosen it up.''

McCoy admitted that while it might be hard to believe for some, after watching him play last season at Pitt, he still has a lot to learn about college football.

"It was only my first season, and there were a lot of things I could've done better, more plays that I could've made,'' McCoy said. "There's plenty of times I could have broken runs a lot longer, some little runs where one different read would've made a difference. So, it's all about age and experience.

"Each game was my first against each opponent last season, but now I have something to look at on video to see how I did against them. That's real big. Everybody has a different scheme, and we have a different game plan for them. Now, I know what's going on, and I'll be more prepared.

"(And) we all still have something to prove this season, but we're getting there,'' McCoy added. "We have more depth now, and that will help us compete with anybody. We're going to be right there every game. We believe that, but we have to prove it on the field.''

Even without a red cape, with a superior athlete like McCoy leading the way, Pitt should make the leap from mediocrity to compete for the Big East title.

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