Keep the predictions for Pitt coming - I will publish them tomorrow. I will say this - early returns seem to indicate a very optimistic fan base.
But at any rate here are some nuggets courtesy of Phil Bennett, the Panthers defensive coordinator today after practice:
** If you are worried about defensive end Greg Romeus (back spasms) and his availibility for the Utah game, don't be. Today at practice he apparently got a little bit feisty - so much so that he had to be restrained after getting into a fight with scout team quarterbacks. "He must be back, he's fighting our scout team quarterback," Bennett said. "He's mad, so hell, I'm glad!" Romeus, of course, took most of camp off and used the John Candy excuse - "Hey coach, the planes, trains and automobiles made my back stiff!!!" -- and has been the subject of much speculation because of it but as those of us predicted, he has made a miraculous recovery now that camp is over and appears ready to go. And the fact that he is out there knocking people around is a great sign. I know Pitt has a lot of depth, but let's not kid ourselves, this team isn't the same team without No. 91 out there playing at full speed.
** Bennett also said what many of us suspected - that Aaron Donald isn't headed for a redshirt but rather is at the very least going to be the fourth defensive tackle. "He's going to play," Bennett said. "Greg [Gattuso] will tell you that he's right in the mix."
** Another very interesting nugget from Bennett - that weakside linebacker spot is still up for grabs and if anything looks like it could be headed back to Greg Williams. Tristan Roberts had been the starter at that spot for pretty much the entire camp and looked like he was putting some distance between Williams and him. But that's not the case as Bennett said this competition is far from over. "Right now [Williams] has made a push," Bennett said. "He's got the experience right now. We're alternating them and we'll see how it goes." Bennett was asked if Williams could conceivably start against Utah and he responded "oh yeah."
** There will be four corners who will play against Utah and none are named Saheed Imoru,which means freshman K'Wuan Williams has won that fourth spot. "[Ricky] Gary, Atwuan [Reed], K'wuan [Williams] and Buddy Jackson," Bennett said. "I like K'Wuan, he has work to do but he is a football player. He has got it. Whatever it is, he's got it."
** Bennett said he was speaking with Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBaeu today for a few minutes and the conversation was basically about how many different things Utah does on offense. "I told him heck, they have 58 formations," Bennett said. "They do everything. I don't know how they practice that." Bennett said the key to defending them is making sure everyone is "lined up right" and takes away angles and closes space. But Bennett laughed when he was asked if the key to stopping the spread is speed. "It is assignments," Bennett said. "You can have speed and look stupid." He has often said, and said it again, the spread is the passing version of the wishbone. "They run power, a wildcat package, they run option - everything you might see in a year, we're seeing it in this first game," Bennett said.