Can Pitt Bounce Back?

Questionable play-calling, missed opportunities and turnovers led to Pitt's 27-17 loss to Bowling Green in the opening game last week, but it also precipitated a heavy dose of boos from the Panthers faithful during the game and criticism far and wide afterward.

Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt believed it probably was justified.

"Let's be real,'' Wannstedt said. "We expected to go out there and play good and win the game, so when people are disappointed they are going to express it. And that's part of the business, and you've got to be able to handle that.

"You know how I feel about this school. I love these kids, and my focus now is Buffalo. I believe in these kids. I know we have a good football team, and I know we have good players. We just have to keep pressing forward.''

Wannstedt immediately told the players not to get too down by their performance and to let the criticism bounce off.

"I talked to the team about that, I said 'hey, it's all part of it, when things are good, it's good.' You're going to get a lot more recognition than probably what you deserve, and when things are bad it goes the other way.

"It's all part of the game. And I think if were going to be a good football team, which I believe we are, we've got good solid people, intelligent kids. We have to be able to deal with the good or bad.''

The Panthers tried to do that immediately and appeared to put the loss in the past, but that won't finally be determined until today's game against Buffalo begins at 6 p.m. at Heinz Field.

"The first couple days, the guys were still affected by the loss, but now everybody is focused on Buffalo,'' tailback LeSean McCoy said. "The first one, we lost it, but now we can move on, go 11-1 or whatever. We have to move on. Coach Wannstedt is doing a great job keeping us focused. We've got our whole season ahead of us, so we can't let a game like this affect our season.

"That's the mind-frame that we have. We just have to come out and trust each other. We were prepared, but we need to trust the game plan, the line, the quarterback and stick with the game plan. And if we can do that, we'll be fine, because the talent and the play-calling are definitely there.''

Quarterback Bill Stull believed Pitt could turn the loss to its advantage.

"We're upset, and we're disgusted about what happened,'' Stull said. "But that's only going to work to our benefit with guys being more hungry and ready to hit somebody. So, we're going to go the extra mile to make that happen this week and to make it happen against Buffalo.''

Panthers tight end Nate Byham noted that the team's motto needs to come into play immediately.

"We have something to prove,'' Byham said. "Like our little motto this year ... we definitely have something to prove, especially after this loss, but the ability is there for us to play with anybody. We all took it very hard, and that's a good thing to see. We were all in here watching game film and everything right away. We know what we need to do, and that's execute.''

And if that doesn't happen, it could be another long day for the Pitt football team.

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