Bowling Green: The Aftermath

So, where does the Pitt football program go from here?

As Panthers coach Dave Wannstedt said, Pittsburgh will regroup and move forward because a game against Buffalo is Saturday at 6 p.m. at Heinz Field.

"We have character players,'' Wannstedt said. "These guys are hurt right now and disappointed. Things that happened, the ones that had the most affect on the the game, are things we can correct. ... If you take away the turnovers in the game, you're probably going to eliminate 2-3 scores. And that's going to be the difference in the game.''

Middle linebacker Scott McKillop and tailback LeSean McCoy, the only two players allowed to talk to the media after the game, certainly were frustrated and disappointed with how things played out. And McKillop certainly was a stand-up guy when placing blame.

"I think that one of the things that we need to do better is recognize the eligible receivers and figure out who to cover,'' McKillop said. "We knew they would come out with something knew, but we didn't realize what they were doing a couple times. ... We have to come out, and I have to settle us down in situations like when they had different quarterbacks in there.

"That's on me. There were a bunch of things we could've done on defense, but when we did some things they adjusted and were able to take advantage of it. When things aren't working, we can move on to something else, but we needed to recognize their formations better and adjust to what they were doing.''

McKillop continued when asked about Bowling Green's offensive innovations.

"They had some good third-down packages, but some things are on our defense,'' McKillop said. "We needed to step up and make more plays on those situations. ... We're pretty frustrated, but there's 12 games overall, and this was just the first one. We can't get too down on ourselves.

"(And) we have 24 hours (to get over it). Then, we need to go back and look at what we didn't do well and correct our mistakes. We need to have a short memory and get ready for Buffalo next week.''

McCoy was frustrated with the offensive ineptitude in general and his fumble in particular and clearly was disheartened by the way the game went.

"I'm sure everyone is hurting,'' McCoy said. "I know I am. With everyone that was coming back healthy and how hard we worked, there was a lot of hype with this team. But I'm sure nobody expected this. It's tough, a loss like this. It's really tough. ... They did some different stuff to (pack) the box.

"But I give them a lot of credit. They did a great job with the scheme they came into the game with, and we didn't get it done. (But) our focus was still there after the early scores, and we tried to bury them. But that wasn't the outcome. And I don't think anybody lost focus.''

McCoy also commented on Wannstedt's decision to take a field goal and not even try to score a touchdown with time running out in the first half.

"Whatever the coach calls, we have to try to execute it,'' McCoy said. "It would have been nice for us to go for a touchdown there, but the coaches wanted to kick a field goal. So, that's what we did.''

Wannstedt addressed several other situations from the Bowling Green loss.

"They gave us some unusual formations, which we knew they would do,'' Wannstedt said. "But we made some mistakes due to inexperience, which are going to happen, but that was the difference in the ball game.

"Working hard only gives you a chance to win. It doesn't guarantee anything, and that's the lesson I told the players that they learned from this. So, we have to regroup and get ready for next week.''

Wannstedt was asked what that says when Austin Ransom, a defensive player for two weeks, led the team with seven tackles.

"I think that says what type of young man he is,'' Wannstedt said, missing the point. "When Shane Murray got hurt, we were not pleased where we were at with the young linebackers.

"And Austin is a guy who was a smart guy and with their style of offense he gave us a chance to cover guys because he can run ... and that's where they attacked us, our weak side, with Austin and Dom, making his first start.''

Wannstedt also used inexperience as a reason for quarterback Bill Stull's performance.

"Billy, you hate to have a young quarterback put in there in his first start in the situation that he had at the end of the game, running the two-minute drill and having to make plays,'' Wannstedt said.

"That's not the best environment for him in his first game out of the shoot. (But) I thought he played solid and did everything he could do, but I thought his inexperience showed up. He just needs playing time.''

When asked what happened to change the game's flow, Wannstedt said: "I felt like halfway through the first quarter, we were playing the style of game that we wanted to. We were trying to get some shots down the field. That's what I thought we were missing, but that never happened. Usually on those long drives, you have to make a big play, and we didn't.''

Wannstedt added that the staff talked about using Greg Cross in the Wildcat, but "that's more of a run package. And we needed to throw the ball more.''

But when Pitt dropped back to pass, freshman sensation Jonathan Baldwin wasn't an option for Stull.

"We have to take a look at him,'' Wannstedt said. "We have a little package for him. We wanted to use him in the red zone, which we did, but we didn't get down there enough to really capitalize and take advantage of him.''

So, adjustments did not appear to be made on offense and McKillop offered a final thought on what happened to the defense.

"We played well in the first quarter, but they came out in the second quarter with a little more flash in their offense,'' McKillop said. "They went to a quick hurry-up and caught us off-guard. ... Our defense, when adversity hits, we need to step up and make big plays.

"And we didn't do that. They scored a high percentage in the red zone, maybe 80 percent, and we have to limit them to three points when we get that opportunity. We definitely have to do better in that area.''

That's certainly the case for Pitt's offense. And with more success there, decisions like the one to go for a field goal at the end of the first half won't need to be made.

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