Thought I'd do this again since it gives me an excuse to read the entire transcript of Dave Wannstedt's weekly press conference:
10. So are we going to see one running back carry the load the rest of the year?
"We’re going to need them both. The plan is to use them both."
"Do you sit back, second-guess and say ‘do you want to give Ray more carries?’ I think that we want to get them both more carries ideally."
"We know that we're going to need them both."
"The way everything has evolved, I see us using them both. To sit here and say that we’re going to play one guy most of the game, I don’t see that happening."
Hmm...see a trend here?
9. Problems with ... cleats?
"We had them go up and warm-up with their cleats on. We had two fall downs. One fall down was an interception with Mike Shanahan. We thought that was going to be a 16-yard completion. Then there was the (would-be) touchdown in the end zone. We had the guys go out and warm-up with the cleats on. Obviously, they didn’t think it was a problem until they fell."
Look, I don't know what the issue is. I have a hard time believing that cleats were the issue. If they were, I'd have expected to see a lot more guys falling down or sliding around. Could have just been some slick spots on the field, but who knows.
8. Devin Street to get more time
"Devin Street made a few plays. We have to continue working him in the lineup some."
Street is looking better and better and its clear he deserved to move up to the third recevier spot. It's early, but if Street ends up starting next season, I'd feel pretty good about him. Todd Thomas will have something to say about that, though. I'd like to see him get more targets this year and it sounds like he will.
7. Field goal woes
6. Tino's success
"The pass plays that we threw, particularly earlier on — three-step slants, bubble screens, flare screens to the back. Those are plays that you can run. We ran some boots and waggles, the one he ran in on, on the goal line. Those are high percentage, confidence (building), make the quarterback feel good plays as compared to dropping back where he’s trying to read the whole field. I thought we had a good plan from the standpoint of giving him some high-percentage plays where he could get some confidence and get going."
This is another thing I think Wannstedt did right. The staff really did a good job of setting Tino up for success with the plays called. He definitely struggled with the deep ball, but all in all, he played pretty well - completing short passes, making a few plays along the way, and not making any mistakes.
5. Is Cam Saddler the right guy for returning kicks/punts?
"Cameron Saddler" and I talked about it yesterday. There were probably two of them that he brought to my attention that were catchable balls. I think that no one works harder at it, and is more conscientious than Cam.
That may be true, but I don't know that it necessarily makes him the best at it. The fact is, though, that there may not be a better player for the job right now.
4. Going for broke
"You look at the fake punt, and it was there. We had the look that we wanted, but we didn’t execute. We go back and we work on those things again and just keep working on them. We’re not going to shy away from doing things. We just have to do it better."
I'll get into this in a bit, but if they didn't get the yardage then, clearly, it wasn't there.
3. So, uh, can we get a do-over?
"I thought of wiping the slate clean. I’ve been in these meetings, and I’ve done it before where you put a drape up over the first half of the season. I’ve done all of that stuff.
"I’m not sure that where we’re at right now, how we’re trying to figure out who is doing what and how we’re trying to piece everything together, that we just can’t forget what cost us from winning the Notre Dame game and pretend like it didn’t happen.
I actually agree with Wannstedt on this one. I think that type of stuff is kind of gimmicky and if Pitt needs gimmicks at this point in the season, then there's not much hope of them winning the conference anyway.
2. More bad clock management
"We said that if we had fourth-and-two, maybe fourth-and-three we were going to go for it. Then we come up, we threw an incomplete pass and it was fourth-and five. We were talking about the play. We thought we were going to make a few yards, which we didn’t. That’s when we called the timeout just to be sure. We just talked about the situation in the game."
This was just a disaster in every sense of the word. It's actually worse than I thought it was. I was thinking that Pitt hadn't even bothered to discuss what they were going to do if they didn't get a first down on the third down play. But now that I know they actually did makes it look even more awful. So let me get this straight - they discussed what they were going to do, then were still so surprised that they had to burn a timeout? Inexcusable. As I wrote in the recap, it didn't affect the outcome of the game. But plays like that make you really question how prepared the coaching staff is for in-game decisions.
That said, I do credit the staff for ultimately making the correct call, which was to punt the ball away.
1. Back to the fake punt:
“We were running it like a sweep. We had guys assigned to block guys. It’s a kick-or-run option on (Dan) Hutchins part. Half the time that we run that play people don’t even know we’re running it. He just goes, kicks the ball and we’re rolling. Everybody thinks that it was a roll kick. He has the option to go anytime.
“We had the right look initially. We just didn’t execute.”
Maybe it's just me, but this really sounded like he was placing the blame on Hutchins. Hutchins may have the decision to go for it or punt at several times in the game, but if that's the case then shame on the coaching staff. No way a punter should have that kind of a green light. And even if Hutchins only has a very limited green light, the staff definitely should have made it clear that wasn't the time for a fake punt. Even if it was Hutchins' decision, I blame the staff for giving him the green light there.
"I think we’ll correct some of the kicking game issues. We’re not going to mishandle the snap, and we’ll kick the field goals. That’s just how it goes. Dan Hutchins was the Special Teams Player of the Week the week before in the Big East Conference, so I’m not concerned about that. He punted the ball well. "
Well, first off, punting was secondary to the six points Pitt missed out on in the two missed field goals. And how can you be sure there won't be any more mishandled snaps? I think Pitt will make its field goals for the most part, but as we saw in the Notre Dame game and the Cincinnati game last year, even mishandled snaps once in a while can be killers. And as I mentioned before, at what point does Hutchins start to worry if the hold will be accurate? He might not be thinking about it on an extra point, but what about a crucial game-winning field goal?