Dave Wannstedt Press Conference 10/25/10 - Top Ten

As always, Dave Wannstedt met with the media on Monday for his weekly press conference. Here are the top ten quotes/issues that came out of it in my eyes:

Courtesy of PittsburghPanthers.com

10. Weekly discussion about Tino:

"The thing that Tino is doing right now is that he’s managing the game. He’s taking what the defense gives you. When we have the opportunity to take shots he’s making good choices.

 

"For a young quarterback you couldn’t really ask for anything more. I think that everybody just evaluates the quarterback position by how many passes you complete, and there’s so much more to it. He’s getting the call, managing the huddle and getting us in and out of plays.  

I'd say he's doing more than simply managing the game and not screwing things up - he's going out and making plays. I'll agree fully with the part about taking what the defense gives him. He's not forcing things downfield and seems more than happy to take a short gain when that's the only thing there.

9. The unsung heroes of the team

Every year you’re counting on (proven) players like Dion Lewis, Jon Baldwin and Dom DeCicco— we’ve all talked about that. But for us to be a really good team, the Mike Cruz’s of the world, the Jarred Holley’s of the world and the Brandon Lindsey’s of the world — guys that people aren’t necessarily talking about — have to step up. 

That's completely true. Pitt can't win a conference, no matter how weak, with only a handful of stars. Guys like Lindsey who is one of the nation's sack leaders, Holley who is racking up interceptions, and Cruz, who's turning into a good tight end have all been instrumental in the team's success. Pitt is far more than a handful of NFL-level players. 

8. On being able to pass the ball effectively:

"I think that if you sit back and look at it, that’s been the pattern the last couple of weeks that we’ve seen from defenses — just being a little more honest. We’ve said from week one that until we start hitting some of those passes and they know that we’re not afraid to drop back and throw the football and do it effectively, until you do that, it’s just lip service. I think that now people know that if they want to play certain coverages we’re going to throw the ball."

That's been one of Pitt's biggest assets. Teams can't simply stack the box to stop Pitt's rushing attack because the passing game has gotten so much better. I actually feel confident when I see Tino drop back to pass, and why not? He's completing about 70% of every ball he throws. 

7. When will a conference champ be determined?

"I think that the conference will be decided the last week of the season."

Hard to argue with this. It could come down to Pitt/West Virginia in the next to last week, but the final week could still have ramifications.

 

6. Where does the Louisville game stack up against the other two conference games Pitt has played?

This is the toughest conference game that we have to date this week.  

Of course I expect Dave to answer that way and this week's game may prove him correct.

5. Henry Hynoski led the team in catches against Rutgers:

"I see Henry Hynoski back there (in the room). Who would have ever thought that our fullback would be our leading receiver with seven catches?  

Paul Zeise of the Post-Gazette had a good point about QB Tino Sunseri possibly passing up on bigger plays and instead looking for shorter passes to Hynoski. I agree to a degree that it might be an issue, but Sunseri has also been going downfield as well. Personally, I don't have a problem with him going the shorter route a little more often than not. Plus, Sunseri is actually second in the conference in yards per pass attempt (8.2), so it's not like all of his passes are short. 

 

4. On the status of OL Lucas Nix:

"He practiced last night, so he should be back this weekend."

Um, okay, not much there. But Nix's injury forced the team to play Greg Gaskins. I haven't been able to find out exactly what the injury is, but it doesn't sound serious ... and that's a good thing.

 

3. So will Greg Romeus be back this week?

"Greg Romeus is making progress. We’re just week-by-week with him. There’s nothing new to report."

Hmmm, more crytpic messages. Seriously, though - Brandon Lindsey is doing just fine and I'd probably prefer to sit Romeus one more game. Give him the bye week after Louisville and let him get a couple more weeks of rest to make sure he's 100%.

 

2. Return of Dion Lewis:

"I said this, and it might sound like a strange comment, but standing on the sidelines you just had this feeling in your stomach that when Dion was getting the ball, it was the old Dion. Every play he had the chance of breaking. Why? I don’t know. But he was in sync and he was into it. He was making cuts, he was making reads that he’s capable of making. It was nice to get him the yards, but I also think that he probably walked off the field Saturday feeling the best that he’s felt all year."

I don't know if I sensed it the way Wannstedt apparently did, but you really could see a difference. Lewis clearly outplayed Ray Graham this week and it will be interesting to see if the carries are still split somewhat evenly if Lewis has more days like he did on Saturday. No matter what, I expect Graham to still get some carries - and he should. He's earned that.

 

1. How many teams can win the conference?

"I really felt that looking at everything and knowing where we were at, the players that had graduated, how long it takes to bring players along and everything that really goes into coaching and putting a team together, I really thought that there were five teams capable of winning the Big East. That’s probably holding true. 

I don't think that's too far off. No one is obviously officially eliminated yet, but at 0-2, UCONN is pretty close to it. I also have a hard time making a case for USF, who's lost two games and Rutgers and Louisville. Syracuse isn't far behind, but I don't know that they have the offense. By my count, it's coming down to Pitt, WVU, and Cincinnati. At this point you can probably make a case for five, but I think realistically, it's going to come down to three.

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