Minor Changes

Speaking with reporters on the weekly Big East teleconference, Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said that after an opening loss to Bowling Green, there will be some personnel adjustments for this week's game against Buffalo Saturday at 6 p.m. at Heinz Field, but don't expect any major changes to occur.

Wannstedt specifically was asked about his offensive philosophy and if that might be altered a bit to put more points on the board when one considers that Pittsburgh scored just 27 points and most winning teams in the top 25 this past weekend scored more than 40 points, several hit 50 and one surpassed 60.

"You'd like to think that we would make a few big plays running it with the backs that we have,'' Wannstedt said. "We've got to generate some big plays. I think the longest play from scrimmage that we had was 17 yards last week. You're not going to score a lot of points doing that. So, we've got to find a way. Our offensive line is a relatively new group.

"We know that, and we're taking that into account. And our quarterback just played the first full game of his career. So, with those two things in mind, combining with ... yes, we definitely have to score more than 17 points to beat anybody. And particularly with some of these spread teams, I think the scoring has gone up significantly over the past few years.

"So, we've got to be able to put points on the board, and I think that would have happened Saturday,'' Wannstedt added. "When we get opportunities to score points, we have to. We only came up with one turnover, but it wasn't good field position. And when you turn the ball over, you're eliminating a possession.''

The changes Wannstedt proposed, however, were on offense. Expect freshman offensive tackle Lucas Nix to play this week and freshman wideout Jonathan Baldwin to get more than three plays with two passes thrown his way. Pitt's biggest play against Bowling Green was a 27-yard run by LaRod Stephens-Howling, and the longest pass was 18 yards to Dorin Dickerson.

"(Nix) really didn't play, so I want to get him some playing time,'' Wannstedt said. "At some point in the game, just put him in and let him play, regardless of the first quarter or fourth quarter or winning or losing. He's got to play, and I think Jonathan Baldwin has got to play more than he did.

"We've got a little package for him. Those would be the two guys, from a younger player standpoint, getting playing time that I would comment on. But nothing else. I think everything else is pretty much as it was.''

That would change if fifth-year senior strong-side linebacker Adam Gunn can't play. He was banged up against the Falcons, but Wannstedt said he's feeling a lot better and was at the practice facility this morning. He's day-to-day. The coach also commented on the play of outside linebackers Nate Nix and Greg Williams, who played some against Bowling Green.

"We'll continue to practice all those guys,'' Wannstedt said. "We had a little rookie scrimmage, a freshman scrimmage (Sunday) night. We tried to get Tristan Roberts and Max Gruder and all those young linebackers some reps.

"There was not really, when you look at the mental mistakes, I thought our defense guys ... the biggest play they had was on the unbalanced line, swinging-gate play, when it took us a little bit of time to figure out just who was eligible and who wasn't. And that was 22 yards. So, there weren't any busted assignments, and I think our young kids did a nice job.''

After a couple days to reflect, Wannstedt still couldn't put his finger on why Pitt quickly went downhill after halftime against Bowling Green.

"I was unsure, (but) you hope as a coach that your team comes out ready to play in the opener,'' Wannstedt said. "You judge that by your meetings and preparation, and I thought our kids were outstanding. I thought they came out of the gate hitting on all cylinders, playing good defense against a team that on offense does some unusual things and offensively, moving the ball.

"In the second half, we came out and for whatever reason we turned it over three times, missed a field goal and didn't make it on one fourth down. And that was the difference in the game. We just did not play in the second half, particularly offensively, with any sense of consistency and made too many mistakes to win the game.

"We were up 14-0 and had a critical turnover right before the half that led to a score, and we didn't bounce back mentally the way that I hoped that we would,'' Wannstedt added.

However, he didn't expect that to be a problem this week, despite the team's obvious frustration when the Panthers reported to the practice facility Sunday.

"They'll be fine,'' Wannstedt said. "We've got great leadership and great character on this football team. Everybody was down and disappointed (Sunday), and I would have been very displeased if it wasn't that way. But after watching the tape, we got out on the field a little bit and moved around. And some guys are already in here today watching tape, so we'll bounce back.''

Wannstedt also was asked if the Panthers seemed a bit tired Saturday, but the fourth-year Pitt coach dismissed that notion.

"If we were tired, so were they,'' Wannstedt said. "Our football team is in great shape. We had some opportunities to make plays and just didn't make them. ... We turned the football over. That was the difference between winning and losing. And every one was a different situation. The interception at the end.

"The one blitz, we halfway miss a block, the quarterback gets hit, and the ball comes out. Another, Cedric McGee's a very reliable player. He's convinced the inadvertent whistle came before the ball came out, but that's no reason to turn the ball over. And if we turn the ball over 3-4 times this week, we probably won't win, either. For as hard as we work on it. We work on it every day.''

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