Paul Zeise checks in from the South Side after Pitt football's media day:
Wanny lets the dogs out
Dave Wannstedt is known for his unusual motivational tactics.
Some -- like making his team practice while the other team's fight song is blaring through a PA system -- are brilliant while others, like hanging mouse traps all over the complex to warn his players of a "trap" game are, um, well, a little less than brilliant, perhaps even borderline corny -- but yesterday he clearly took it to another level when he brought in live props to the first team meeting.....
Live, as in Wannstedt brought in a Police dog from the Pittsburgh Police K-9 unit along with two officers -- one who had the misfortune of being put into a Bowling Green shirt (Pitt's first opponent) and protective arm and body gear and cast as the "villain" -- to show his players what a mad dog really looks like when it is attacking.
"Mad dog", you see, is the
nickname for the Panthers defense and Wannstedt wanted to show his players the
aggressiveness with which he wants them to play. He said "you think you are mad
dogs, here's what mad dogs do...."
And of course, that's when the door opened and the cops brought the barking dog in and then the demo was pretty simple -- Cop A in Pitt shirt orders the dog to attack and he attacks Cop B in Bowling Green shirt wearing protective gear and dog tries, as K-9 dogs do, to rip his arm off, while growling and hissing and foaming at the mouth.
It apparently was quite an eye-opener for some of the players as Wannstedt quipped afterwards "some of these guys were trying to climb over each other to get out the exits by the time it was over....."
Clearly he got their attention......
Maybe Casey Hampton could use this guy?
Pitt strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris is 50 years old and he looks
as if he is in better shape than most of the players he conditions. In fact, he
still competes in -- and wins -- bodybuilding contests and quite frankly, just
looking at him -- if you put together a short list of guys you probably just
don't want to tangle with he'd have to be on it.
That being said, he is one of the best in the business and frankly, it is easy to see that the Panthers are starting to buy what he is selling and as a result are starting to reap the benefits. In fact, the biggest development in the offseason with Pitt has to be the fact that Morris -- who is in year two with the Panthers -- has really whipped this team into unbelievable shape.
Yesterday was media/photo day and quite frankly the most impressive thing about it was looking at some of Pitt's linemen and seeing the difference between what they used to be -- for lack of a better term "fat loads" -- and what they are now -- slim, trim and chiseled. It is quite amazing to be honest.
Joe Thomas, for instance, was not exactly a model of fitness and health last year -- he weighed more than 300 pounds (and he wasn't a good 300 pounds if there is such a thing) was not terribly in shape and that's why he found himself on the bench late in the season. Fast forward to now -- Thomas is about 285, he shed a lot of his fat and he looks like he is much stronger than he was last year.
Sophomore quarterback Pat Bostick, whose 1-yard quarterback sneak against West Virginia last year has to go down as one of the least athletic touchdowns ever scored in college football history, came to campus with a physique only Baby Huey could appreciate. He was overweight and not real quick and that is probably being generous.
But yesterday when Bostick walked by and shook my hand, well, let's just say he nearly crushed every bone from my wrist to the tips of my fingers. He LOOKS like a Division I athlete now -- he is clearly stronger, he is trimmer, he is cut in places where I'm not sure I even have muscles -- it was quite unbelievable -- he is now in the kind of shape he needs to be to really compete for the starting job and lead the team to a victory.
"We don't want fat guys, we want strong guys and quick guys," Morris said when asked about how he got the team in such great shape. "Bigger isn't better."
He said the linemen on average lost about 25 pounds each, he's gotten them for the most part down under 25 percent body fat and they have all gained strength in just about every area.
And after looking at these guys on the field walking around, it is easy to see he isn't lying. This team looks so much more like a Division I football team is supposed to than I can ever remember, that's for sure.
In short, the Panthers at least look the part of course, now it is time to see if they can play the part as well.