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Coach Wannstedt Media Quotes 10/11


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Meet the Press: Dave Wannstedt Addresses the Media

Coach Wannstedt reviews the Cincinnati win and previews the upcoming South Florida game.

Oct. 10, 2005

Opening Remarks:

Nothing real substantial to report from last week's game concerning injuries. We actually came out probably the best that we have from a team standpoint all year long. That's very encouraging. We'll wait and see with some of the guys - LaRod [stephens-Howling], [brandon] Mason, a few of the players that did not play last week because of injuries. We'll just take it one day at a time and see how they progress and make some decisions there later on in the week. It was good. I mentioned right after the game about Josh Cummings. He had no side effects the day after - being able to get out there and kick. That was all good. Clint Session, who hasn't played in awhile, got some playing time and he came out of the game good. That was all very positive for us. We met this morning with the players and showed them the tape. We met early this morning and kind of re-grouped a little bit. They were off yesterday. We'll start talking a little about South Florida this afternoon with them.

On South Florida running back Andre Hall being of NFL caliber:

He's awfully talented. Their offense, they spread you out - three receivers, four receivers, five receivers. But the thing they're doing best at this point is running the ball. It's a credit obviously to Hall, the running back. He's a very talented player. They're committed to the run, and they find ways to run the football in all personnel groups. You have to really be careful that you don't fall into a trap that way.

On stopping a talented running back:

We've got to work on our tackling. That was a little bit disappointing. No, it was a lot disappointing what happened on Saturday. We had several opportunities. Cincinnati had over 300 yards in offense. There was close to over 100 yards in missed tackles. Obviously the big one was the screen play. We ran a blitz and we should have tackled the guy in the flat. And we missed. And the second guy misses. And pretty soon it's a long-gainer. We gave up too many yards defensively after contact. We'll work on tackling this week as we have every week. When you're playing a team like South Florida, not in just the running back position but in all positions, the receivers they've got - we know their type of athletes. We've got 17 players on our team, actively right now, from (Florida). Pitt's always had players from that part of the country. We know the type of players we're going to be facing. Everybody you talk to, the first thing they talk about is their team's speed and their athleticism. We've got to do a good job of making sure we eliminate the big plays.

On playing true freshmen this season:

Rashaad Duncan has been playing. Actually, Corey Davis came up in the pre-game with a strained calf muscle. That's why he didn't play. And for the most part, we just had a three-man rotation (at defensive tackle). So Rashaad's getting a lot of playing time. Tommie Campbell's getting a lot of playing time on the special teams. We need him. LaRod would maybe be starting for us if he was playing. We know where [Rashad] Jennings is at. C.J. Davis has been playing all along. He's starting now. John Bachman and Conredge Collins were really the two guys that I've really been thinking about for the last couple of weeks. I felt like the best thing for them, the best thing for our football team, is to get them on the field. Both situations are a little bit different. Bachman has been running second team. We were watching him in practice, and he's been getting better and he's getting better. He's going to be one heck of a football player. And he played well. He had a couple of things that Paul Dunn and myself were surprised that a freshman offensive lineman did as far as handling stunts. He's a smart guy and he's athletic. Looking at the depth chart with him, that was what brought that on. With Conredge there were two things. One, if you look at our team, we lost (Kellen) Campbell and (Tim) Murphy's been hurt. Justin Acierno's got the broken hand. Our fullback position is really beaten up. It has been for a couple of weeks. The more we talked about this, and we said, hey things can happen. But I talked with Conredge and said keep in mind that this fullback position in this offense can be as productive as the tailback is. I told him the stories of when we were at Dallas and Darryl Johnson was catching 80 balls a year. Several of the years that Matt Cavanaugh was with San Francisco, their leading receiver was Tom Rathman. He was the leading receiver with Jerry Rice on the team and Brent Jones. So getting the ball in his hands is something we need to make sure we do as coaches because he's got talent. But he's also a tough guy.  

I think the experience that he'll gain these last six weeks, and Bachman and the rest of these kids, it's going to be important. You see our roster. There's a little bit of a void. We go from some senior guys to freshman guys. In certain positions there's a big void there, and it's not like next year we're going to show up and there's going to be a junior and a sophomore fullback or a junior and sophomore offensive lineman. In fairness to the kids, if we're going to be putting the burden on them, or the responsibility on them, that next year against Virginia (in the 2005 opener), you're going to have to line up and win for us, I think it's best for the team and them that they all get some experience and play.

On being a rookie on the offensive line:

I agree [that it's a difficult position to be in], but I think that's where we're at right now. Dom Williams is a redshirt freshman, and he's splitting time with [John] Simonitis. I wanted to get [Chris] Vangas in the game, but it never came down to that because the ball was wet. That was my fault. I told Paul Dunn beforehand because we were going to play him some for [Joe] Villani. That's our thinking behind it. It's sound thinking. We're being sensitive, number one, with what's best for our football team. And number two, with what's best for these players that we know are going to be major players for us.

On Conredge Collins continuing to play on special teams:

Conredge Collins, we'll have him on special teams this week, yes. We'll stick him on some special teams and get him going. And he'll be in the two-deep. We'll use Justin Acierno maybe more. I talked to Justin yesterday. Justin is doing a heck of a job for us on all the special teams. That will be his major role, and it will be Conredge Collins and Murphy who will be the two fullbacks now. So Conredge will jump up into that role.

On Pitt's lack of fumble recoveries:

If you're trying to tackle the ball, you would never teach the first guy that makes contact to try to cause the fumble. It's always the second or third guy there that goes for the strip. Most fumbles are caused by speed, making things happen, big hits. A lot of them come around the quarterback. We've struggled a little bit putting pressure on the quarterback as everybody knows. That's where you can come up with a lot of turnovers. The one interception we got, we had great pressure by Charles Sallet when he overthrew the ball and we came up with the interception. The majority of turnovers that a team will come up with will result from pressuring the quarterback, stripping the quarterback, all those things, sacks. We just haven't been nearly as productive as what we would all like in that area. We've been working at it. We've been dialing it up, and you've got to just keep working on it which we do.

I have played on teams, where it's funny with streaks and turnovers. I remember the one year at the Dolphins, we had led the league in (forced) turnovers the one year and then the next year we came out and we couldn't buy one. It is a little bit streaky. A lot has to do with how much pressure a team feels too. I think we've been in games where we haven't been scoring a lot of points if you're following me. A team might come in and say, `We can be a little more conservative with what we're doing. And we don't have to take chances. Don't take chances in throwing that ball out there and protect the ball, and see if we can generate enough points. If not, keep it close, and see what happens in the fourth quarter.' That has a lot to do with it, too, if you jump out there. If a team comes in and they say, `We've got to score 35 points to beat this team.' Hey, you're going to see balls pitched. You're going to see balls thrown up in the air. That generates more opportunities too. The way we've struggled a little bit to generate points, I think teams come in and say, `Hey, let's go in there and not beat ourselves. Let's protect the football and see what happens in the fourth quarter.' I know that has a lot to do with it too.

On the four sacks against Cincinnati:

The sacks last week, they came without blitzing. The sacks we got last week - Gus [Mustakas] got one. There's another guy that's in our nickel package - Mustakas - he came up with a sack. Sallet [got one]. I think Thomas Smith got one. We're making progress. That's where a lot of your turnovers will come.

On freshmen playing time taking away from senior playing time:

They (upperclassmen) know that we're being fair. We're doing everything we can to win every game. There's no set amount of time that these freshman are going to play. I'm not playing anybody that I don't think is giving us just as good a chance to win. I would never put a guy in there and jeopardize losing the game. If I wasn't confident that they had the ability and they understood what we were doing, I wouldn't play them. That needs to be made clear. There's nothing that's being compromised here at all except that the guys that are in the back up roles just happen to be freshman. That's really the way I think you need to look at it.

On facing South Florida's pass rush:

We need to, if anything, maybe simplify some things we're doing. By simplifying, I'm talking about up front - to be as sound as we possibly can. We're mixing it as much as you can between the quick game and holding the ball. We ran a lot of waggles and play-action passes last week. Those types of things have a tendency to slow down the pass rush a little bit. We tried to run a couple of screens last week. We tried to run a little flanker screen last week to [Marcel] Pestano. Greg Lee caught one. Those types of things will generally get a team to back off a little bit.

South Florida as a new Big East competitor:

I think they're in a great spot - south Florida and central Florida having recruited down there and lived down there. Somebody told me last year in the state of Florida, 40-some schools came in there and signed players from all over the country. Well, you know that those kids, if they've got an opportunity to stay close to home, that's probably going to be a factor for them. I think they have done a great job to this point. I think by being in the Big East, they're going to make it more difficult on schools. It's good for us. I think it's a positive for us because we can walk down there, and we can always recruit kids in Florida. Now we can tell the kids in Florida, `Hey, you're going to be coming home to play every other year. We're going to be playing South Florida.' I think it's a positive for us in recruiting. I think that a lot of the schools that don't play Florida schools that have gone in there and recruited, I think South Florida and Central Florida will get these kids now, and it will eliminate some of those (schools). But, it will be good for us.

On playing both Joe DelSardo and Darrelle Revis back on punt returns:

Last week their punter averaged 34 yards per punt with about a 4.5 [second] hang time. There were very few returns against them last week. He was not kicking the ball very far leading into our game, and he was very sporadic. Every week we'll start off by charting all the kickers, all the punters, their times, where the balls are at, and then we set up our returns by where we think we can best take advantage of that. I was convinced last week because of the short kicks and the wet ball, that's why we went two-deep - because we weren't going to get any returns. Then we score, right? The week before that we worked ourselves into a frenzy on return, return, return and we get nothing. But really, that was the reason behind it. The one that we returned, we talked about this with us against Rutgers, where was the ball? Middle of the field, and the hang time on it was just over three seconds. Low kick. There we go. That was the thinking for the two guys, and that will vary week to week.

On the speed of South Florida's special teams:

I was watching their tape last night and it was a punt return, and one of their guys went back, and he backed away from it to let it go, the return guy. The ball hit the ground, and the guy next to him picked it up and ran 30 yards. He was a backup corner. He was back there blocking. So yes, they do have speed. That helps.

On Rashad Jennings starting:

Yes, I would expect him to start. We'll see how he is. Today will be the first day we practice. I'll have a definite answer for you tomorrow, but I think if he is healthy and ready to go, which I expect him to be, we'll probably see him in the lineup. It was good to get him back and get him in the mix again. It seems like forever since he's played.

On improving the rushing game and rushing defense:

We'll keep working. Defensively, a lot has to do with the approach. We were behind in the Notre Dame game. You get behind in some games, and the other team is going to run the ball more. In my opinion, that's how you win championships. In the championships that I've won on all levels, we've been able to run the ball effectively and stop the run. That gives you a chance. It doesn't guarantee anything. We've just got to keep working on it. We've got to get better at running the ball. We haven't even scratched the surface of where I envision us being. We haven't even scratched the surface of stopping the run where I envision us. And we'll get there, because I know exactly what we've got to do.

On maintaining the same lineup for kickoff returns:

Terrell Allen will be back there for sure. Who will be with him? Marcel did a nice job blocking. He didn't get an opportunity to return any. I would think, first week, coming back from his ankle injury, we won't put [LaRod Stephens-Howling] back there if he can play.


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