Making A Statement

Pitt quarterback Bill Stull first mentioned it during the bye week, and he mentioned again that the matchup against Iowa Saturday at noon at Heinz Field is a statement game for the Panthers.

"We're going against a pretty tough opponent,'' Bill Stull said in an attempt to re-emphasize his point. "It's a statement for us to prove that we can beat a good football team. They haven't given up very many points, and if we can do that I think it's saying something about our football team, our offense, our defense and our special teams.''

Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt didn't agree about making a statement, but he certainly believed it was a good chance to evaluate his team.

"I don't know about a statement game, but it's a game like all of them that we have to go out and do everything that we can to win,'' Wannstedt said. "I'm looking at it as exciting. We have a chance to play an outstanding football team like Iowa, with an outstanding tradition, and they're coming into our stadium.

"So, we're going to find out a lot more about our football team by Saturday. ... this should be a pretty good indication. We're playing a team that's 3-0 and leading the country in scoring defense. They've got a running back that's averaging more than 100 yards a game, so we're going to find out real quick what kind of team we are.''

Junior tight end Nate Byham believed it definitely would be a statement game for Pitt, but one where the Panthers can strut their stuff.

"It's definitely going to be a good game for us to let everyone know what we're about,'' Byham said. "This is the first big-time opponent, a Big Ten team like Iowa coming into our house, and this is where we've got to make a name for ourselves. (And) we're on national television, so it's the perfect time for us to do that.''

Junior tight end Dorin Dickerson broke it down a little more simply for the Panthers.

"We're 1-1 right now, and we're going to do whatever we can to get a win,'' Dickerson said. "We need a win real bad, so ... we're going to play hard and hopefully we'll come out with a win. They're a Big Ten school, and they're 3-0.

"People think the Big Ten teams are bigger and stronger, and that's going to be a big test for us. I watched the Iowa State game, and they look pretty good. They're a big team, and ... it's going to be a battle. It'll be a good test for us.''

Sophomore tailback LeSean McCoy readily agreed.

"Every game is an important game, but we're 1-1 right now, so this one is very important,'' McCoy said. "And it's kind of a statement game for us. It can show us where we're at, so I think if we can get this win it would be great for the program and for the team this season.''

Byham believed there was another factor involved.

"I definitely feel that us losing to Bowling Green, we've got that bitter taste in our mouth already, and we don't want it to happen again,'' Byham said. "Going against a team like Iowa, we know they're going to be a tough opponent. And we want to fight just that much harder so we don't get that bad taste in our mouth again.''

And that's a statement everybody involved with Pitt should agree with now.

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