November 9, 2006

Panthers look to respond

In the wake of the Pitt football team's loss to South Florida, the team's third defeat this season and second in a row, the inevitable rash of questions arose this week: has the team lost its focus? Has the team lost its confidence? Has the coaching staff lost the team? Will the Panthers end 2006 on a five-game losing streak and finish with a 6-6 record?

For a coach who's been in the business for over 30 years, those questions are nothing new.

"It comes up every year with every team," Dave Wannstedt said this week. "When you hit a rough spot in the season…things get a questioned a little bit and everybody's looking for answers. Our guys need to understand and be able to deal with it. That's all part of a college player and a young kid stepping up and saying, 'I have to just do better; I have to get it going and keep my focus on what I have to do.'"

If the Pitt players can adhere to that mentality, it could be the most striking change from the 2005 Panthers to the 2006 version. After last year's team finished 5-6 in Wannstedt's first season at the helm, the head coach talked about one key theme: accountability. If the Pitt football team was going to show marked improvement in 2006, everyone in the program, from the coaches to the players to the trainers, had to understand and embrace the concept of accountability.

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