Pitt Had An Attitude Adjustment

Sure, it's just one game, but the Pitt football teams' 27-16 win against Buffalo Saturday was crucial to the Panthers psyche for the remaining games.

Noted psychologist Dave Wannstedt, who also is the Pittsburgh head coach, believed the difference in the locker room was like night and day.

"Probably, the most encouraging thing from today's game for me was at halftime, just our attitude at halftime compared to last week at halftime, when we had a lead,'' Wannstedt said. "But everybody thought the world was coming to an end, and it did (with a 27-17 loss).

"This week, they knew it was going to be a 60-minute ball game and didn't get hung up on the scoreboard (with Pitt leading, 17-16) and came out and were able to maintain that energy level. So, I think that's where our team grew up.''

Certainly, Bill Stull was much sharper, and the receivers helped him out a little more than they did the previous week.

"I think we were just crisper,'' Wannstedt said. "Last week, we dropped some balls early, and I think we just weren't very strong mentally as a football team.''

Wannstedt had no doubts that the Panthers would bounce back, however.

"It made me feel good, and we looked at the tape again before the game,'' Wannstedt said. "The blocked extra point at the end of the game. That tells you what type of players we have and what type of character we have.

"But no matter how much you talk to them, they need to go through a tough time. And you hope that they come out on the other end with a win and learn a lesson. And that's what we accomplished today.''

That's the most important thing about Pitt's 27-16 win against Buffalo. The Panthers didn't play their best game, but found a way to win. They overcame an early deficit and pulled away twice after the Bulls cut their lead to one point. It was gut-check time for Pitt, and the Panthers checked out just fine.

"We came out and wanted to prove something because we had the whole city behind us and played so bad last week and made so many mistakes,'' Pitt tailback LeSean McCoy said. "We were kind of embarrassed. So, we wanted to come out strong against Buffalo and took the ball down the field. It felt good.

"We came out with an attitude to prove that we're a good team, the same team that had a good camp, and we fought for four quarters. (But) I think it was all a confidence thing. Speaking for myself, I think I lost a little confidence with the way I played last week. So, I think this was a confidence-builder.

"We have a good team, a good, solid team, and we need to believe in ourselves and our coaches,'' McCoy added. "We worked very hard to get to this point, and we're ready for the rest of the season. We can't let just one little thing get us down. It's a long game, a long season, and now we have to get ready for Iowa.''

McCoy believed the teams' attitude was noticeably different against Buffalo.

"We wanted to prove something after the way we played last week,'' McCoy said. "It was kind of a new beginning for us after the loss last week. We had a good week of practice and came in very focused on Buffalo.

"We knew what we needed to do, and we did it. We played excellent, I think, but that doesn't mean we can't play better. So, we're going to work hard during our bye week to get ready for Iowa. And I think we'll be even better.''

Pitt left offensive tackle Jason Pinkston believed a Friday night talk with former Steelers center Jeff Hartings enlightened the Panthers.

"He was a Pro Bowler, and he talked to us about momentum and momentum-makers,'' Pinkston said. "And we were focused on that. It settled in for us, and we realized that one play, bad or good, shouldn't define how we play the rest of the game. We have to move on to the next play.

"Sure, every game's critical, and you want to win every game. But I wouldn't say it was a do-or-die situation for us. We wanted to win it, and I felt we had to win it. So, that's what we went out to do. We played well and won the game. It was a pretty good day for us, and now we have to move on to the next one.''

But that shouldn't diminish how important this win was for the program.

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