Sept. 7, 2010
Dave Wannstedt Press Conference
September 7, 2010
New Hampshire Week
“Because of the early game, we had the opportunity to get out there and get the team back to work. We had meetings and everything on Saturday. We were able to go out and have a good practice on Sunday night. (After playing your first game) there are so many things that are correctible, whether it’s a mental mistake that was made or a physical mistake. We really used the extra days to focus on us, make sure that everybody understood what needed to be done and move forward.
“Our kids are excited. There wasn’t anything really on the tape that you would say could not be corrected, whether it was a missed tackle or mental mistake. That part of it was good. I think it’s very important for a football team to understand what will lose games for you so that you can understand what wins a game for you. Our guys know up front what will prevent a team on any level from winning a football game —obviously the penalties, the turnovers and the big plays. We’ll make corrections.
“We’ll get focused in on our next opponent. We all know that New Hampshire is in the FCS, they’re a top ten team. They’ve stepped up to play (FBS) teams and had success. Their quarterback is an outstanding player. He’s a senior who’s played for them for three years. When you look at his interception-to-touchdown ratio a year ago — I think it was 15 touchdowns with seven interceptions — that’s outstanding. They play a very, very aggressive defense. Watching their game on Saturday, they run to the ball and they tackle very well, they missed very few tackles. We will focus on correcting what we didn’t do well enough in the game on Thursday, and now it’s time to focus in on our next opponent and get ready for New Hampshire.”
On the progression of the offensive live:
“They did a lot of pressures. They did a lot of movement up front, which was pretty obvious. I thought that as the game went on, our offensive line, Tino Sunseri and our whole offense became more comfortable. We stopped ourselves as much in that game as we have in any other game.
“From the standpoint of a penalty, when you have nine procedure penalties, there’s no such thing as small penalty. Going backwards five yards on the goal line is critical. It changes the whole play call and what you’re able to do. I thought that our offensive line made adjustments as the game went on, and started coming together.
“I’ve used the expressions ‘It’s a work in progress.’ It’s going to take a little bit of time there. You have three new guys making the checks, trying to work together on making the combination blocks. It just doesn’t happen overnight.”
On utilizing extra pressure at Utah:
“It was effective. Obviously the one touchdown was a blitz. We got an interception off one pressure and gave up a touchdown on another. I don’t like those percentages. We’re going to continue to mix.
“When we have opportunities to pressure — as we’ve done in the past — we will. As you saw, their passing game was a lot of screens, a lot of empty, a lot of three step, a lot of quick game. They made it difficult to really get a full-speed pass-rush going. We were playing from behind the whole game, which didn’t make it easier as well.”
On Jason Hendricks:
“He was one of those guys that we had on two or three special teams. He’s a redshirt freshman so he didn’t do much last year because of his shoulder surgery. We had him ready to go as a nickel back, and all of a sudden there’s an injury, now he’s starting at safety and he played almost three quarters. I thought he did a good job for his first time out of the box against an offense that gives you a lot of different looks. I was pleased with Jason Hendricks.”
On offensive strategy at the end of regulation at Utah:
“We discussed that (to run or pass on third down). Obviously every call stops with me — offense, defense or special teams. Where we were at with the third down-and-ten, the one thing you don’t want to do in the red zone, which we obviously did in overtime, was to turn the ball over and you don’t want to knock yourself out of field goal range.
“On the third-and-ten they were bringing a lot of pressure. If it’s third-and-three, third-and- four or third-and-five it’s obviously a whole different call. All you have to do is look up the percentages in the third-and-ten situations when you’re thinking in the back of your mind that you have a young quarterback and he can’t hear himself talk, you want to make sure that you’re making the right call. Plus, we thought if we went into overtime that we would win the game.
“On top of it all, you’re handing the ball to a great player. We did the same thing last year against South Florida when Dion Lewis went for 50 yards. Two years ago, if you remember the last play before the half against Navy down there, we handed the ball to LaSean McCoy on the draw and he went 50 or 60 yards. I think they’re anticipating the pass, but you’re also giving the ball to your best offensive player.”
On the performance of Pitt’s true freshmen at Utah:
“K’Waun Williams did a nice job. We used him in nickel situations and special teams. Aaron Donald got in the mix a little bit. He’s going to be fine.
“That was a great game for our younger players to experience. As difficult as the situation might have been, it was a good experience for our young players and our football team. It will help us down the road. That was as good a place to play as any.”
On how Dom DeCicco’s injury affected the packages run by Pitt:
“It did limit what we could do in a couple of situations. We (now) have more confidence in K’Waun Williams, more confidence in Jason Hendricks. That happens after you get out there and play. We had to make some adjustments on the spot. Kolby Gray went in and played a little bit at safety. It won’t take anything away from what we need to do this week.”
On Tino Sunseri’s progression since Utah:
“I said it yesterday. I thought that in the first series or two, we were a little bit slow with the whole process of getting the play in, him getting it, getting in the huddle. We had two delay of games, and we were close to getting one or two more. I thought as that whole process picked up, so did his confidence in being in control in the huddle. Talking to a lot of the offense players, they also thought that as the game went on, he was more confident, and that’s expected.
“We went out on Sunday night and he had a really good practice. He’s excited. That was obviously a big game for him. I don’t think he saw one thing on tape that he thought he couldn’t improve upon. I wish there was an easy way to get a young quarterback experience, but there isn’t.”
On the overall health of the team:
“We’re good. Overall, we’re healthy.”
On whether or not the delay on the punt was intentional:
“That was my fault. We really just took too much time getting on the field. We have new people on the punt team. Last year it was Steve Dell that was running it, now it’s Henry Hynoski who is acting as the quarterback of the punt team so he’s making calls with the different looks. We just wasted too much time.”
On Greg Romeus’ play at Utah:
“Number one, I think that he was getting double teamed a lot, they were chipping him a lot. Number two, he knocked down two or three passes. The ball was coming out so quick that there wasn’t a five-step, seven-step drop back pass: everything was play pass or it was three stepping, it was out. In empty, he was getting the ball and getting rid of it. Greg Romeus played 59 plays in the game, and I don’t know if he had 59 plays throughout the entire training camp. He’s kind of playing himself back into form a little bit.”
On Sunseri’s progression:
“He’s played a lot of football, and I think it’s different for our whole team when things are happening under the lights. When you’re out there making calls and making adjustments, everything is happening so much faster. In that opening game, teams are doing things on both sides, things that the other team is not prepared for, so you have to make adjustments on the move.
“The encouraging thing is that he made those adjustments, came out in the second half and was very confident. When he came off after the interception, he knew exactly what happened — who he was looking for first, and how he had held the ball. It wasn’t that situation where he came off, looked at you and said, ‘What happened? Where did that guy come from?’ He understands what we’re trying to get done on offense.
“Tino is a competitor. He can make the adjustments in the heat of battle and deal with the ups and downs. There were a few throws that he wanted to have back and in the next series he came right back, and started fresh. It’s just going to be experience. There’s nothing right now that doesn’t make me believe he’s going to be an outstanding quarterback for us.
“I think that his fourth quarter performance helps from a confidence standpoint, but to be honest with you we have seen that in practice out here. We’re a balanced offense, and for us to win games and score points on offense, you have to throw the ball to score points and run the ball to win games. It’s a very touchy situation when you have a young quarterback, three new offensive linemen, a new receiver in there and a new tight end. You’re trying to give those players a chance to be successful, give you’re quarterback the chance to be successful, but at the same time you have to be balanced and throw the ball to get them off our backs a little bit. The whole focus is to stop Dion Lewis, and we know that. We’re not saying that we can’t believe that they brought eight or nine guys in the box to stop the run.”
On Mike Shanahan:
“Mike Shanahan played well. Cam Saddler made some plays. I was pleased with Cam, he played well. There were a lot of bright spots. That was Mike’s first start, Cam’s first start. Mike Cruz did some great things too, and it was his first start. That’s the thing that people don’t realize. We had some good performances out of not just the Henry Hynoski’s and the players that have played for us a couple of years, but also some of the younger players.”
On the linebackers:
“The only time we gave a couple plays underneath is when we missed tackles. Max Gruder one time went to knock the ball down and missed, and the guy got across the field. Dan Mason let the guy get down underneath him one time, even though he made two or three really good plays. I thought overall, the linebackers were solid for seeing that type of offense. We’ll be better this week with more reps. That’s the type of offense we’ll see most of this year, but that’s the whole theory behind that, spread you out, get those guys matched up one-on-one against skill guys that have quickness and see if they’re athletic enough to make plays in space.”
On giving Sunseri flexibility to call plays at the line:
“We’re not a team, and we never will be, where you’re just going to go up there and call plays. A lot of our plays are built in where we can check run the pass, pass the run…certain things we will add on, just by vision make a throw to a receiver depending on the coverage. We have enough mixed in there to get ourselves out of bad plays, but it’s built in the offense.”
On playing an FCS team in New Hampshire:
“We’re focused, and we better be. Right now we have to get a win. We have to correct the things that we did not do well enough to win last week. All we need to do is watch the film and look at the history of New Hampshire. They have several players that are from the area and that we’ve had in our camps that are playing for them. Their quarterback, when you see a guy make throws like that all over the field, it gets your attention. We need to be ready to play at the highest level we can play. They’re going to run the ball. They had a back last week that ran for about 190 yards or so. They’re a little more spread option quarterback type team than what Utah was. They’ll run a triple type option.”
On Ray Graham’s status:
“He was close. He was ready to play. We could have played him if we wanted too. He’s going to practice this week, and if he practices well this week and the opportunity presents itself we’ll play him this week.”
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