"I was disappointed in the way we played," an obviously still frustrated Rodriguez recounted. "We had a nice crowd and nice weather and seemed enthusiastic all week. But we put ourselves behind the eight ball due to lack of execution on special teams. It wound up costing us the ball game.
"We thought we moved the ball well, but we didn't finish some drives off. We didn't execute when we got close to the red zone, which hasn't been a problem for us this year."
Rodriguez remains leery of Panther quarterback Tyler Palko, who has shaken off his early season problems to perform well recently.
"Palko brings the best of both of Walter Washington and Paul Peterson," Rodriguez said. He both runs it and throws it. Peterson scrambles to throw the ball, and Washington scrambles to run it, but he does both. He is carrying Pitt offensively.
"I haven't watched a whole lot of film on Pitt yet, but the big tight end Gill makes some great plays for them. Every coach would like to have a big target like that that is a weapon both as a blocker and a receiver."
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While Rodriguez would prefer to be playing sooner than next Thursday ("I'd like to play tomorrow, but I don't know how the team would feel about that," he said), the extra time off could allow a couple of players to make an appearance in the Pitt game that would have missed the contest if the game were scheduled for this Saturday. Oddly enough, all of those players have sprained knees.
Ryan Thomas and Kay Jay Harris are questionable for next Thursday's contest, but would have been out had the game been this weekend. Thomas and Harris suffered their injuries on back-to-back plays in the third quarter of the B.C. game knee sprains. Meanwhile, Eddie Jackson remains questionable as well as he attempts to get back on the field following the knee injury he sustained against Temple. In a bit of good news, Jason Colson, who was limited against the Eagles, should be ready for the Panthers.
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Apparently, the Chris Henry story won't die. Rodriguez was asked about the star receiver's progress following his suspension.
"There was probably too much made of it, but I think he has learned from it," the Grant Town native said. "He is acting better during the game, and he has always been ok at practice. He has made some big plays, but we still think he has a lot to learn and a lot to get better at. He loves competing and loves to make plays, but he's still just a second year player."
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Due to the special teams problems, Rodriguez plans to conduct some rare live work on those play phases during practice this week.
We are going to do live work on special teams and look at personnel, and even look at schemes. We can't put our defense in that kind of position where they are on their own side of the field all day."
The team has today off as well, and will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Seven members of the coaching staff will hit the road on Friday for recruiting visits, so no practice will be held that day either. Regular game week preparation will commence over the coming weekend.