Today was the last day of media availability for Pitt players before the team's game against Syracuse Friday night. There are some actual football-related notes, but let's start with the always-enjoyable Cam Saddler's take on the Panthers' current uniform aesthetic...
- Saddler said the team will be wearing white jerseys and blue pants for the game against Syracuse. Pitt usually wears white pants on the road, but Saddler cited the team's recent poor play in that combo as the reason for the change, but that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Last year, the Panthers went 1-2 in white/white (beating Louisville, losing to Rutgers and Iowa) and 0-1 in white/blue (West Virginia). However, the only other game in recent memory that I could find Pitt wearing the white/blue combo was the famous 13-9 win over the Mountaineers in 2007. Pitt lost to Cincinnati in white/white earlier this season so...whatever. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't.
"I look real good in my white-on-white, but we don’t win in that, so I don’t want to wear that," Saddler said.
Personally, I'm a fan of the white over blue combo, but that's just because I think it looks better.
- Saddler also addressed the possibility of adding another color to the set, at least temporarily. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, the recent trend has been for football teams to add pink gloves, towels, sweatbands, etc. to raise awareness (the Bears and Cowboys did last night, if you noticed it in between Tony Romo interceptions). Saddler asked coach Paul Chryst if the Panthers could do the same. After some requisite joking with Saddler, apparently Chryst agreed, but not for this game. Saddler said someone connected to the team has a relative affected by breast cancer, so Chryst wanted him to speak before the players put on the pink gear, so they realized why they were wearing it. To me, that makes more sense than just wearing pink gloves for the sake of wearing pink gloves.
"Coach said once everyone realizes there’s a point behind it, then we can do it," Saddler said.
I would expect the pink gear to come out either against Louisville in two weeks or at Buffalo the week after that. Last year, Pitt wore pink sweatbands and towels at Rutgers Oct. 8.
- Now, on to actual football matters. Pitt is coming off a bye week, and that has traditionally been a bit of a problem for the Panthers. Under Dave Wannstedt, Pitt went 3-9 following an open date, and they were 1-1 last year (though last year's bye weeks were a little weird because of multiple midweek games). Saddler, though, said this was the only time in his tenure that the team praticed in full pads during the bye week, which he thought should help keep the momentum going from the two previous wins.
"It was fun," he said. "Coach Chryst kind of made it like a scrimmage and then at the end the young guys kind of wrapped up the day, so the old guys got to go cheer on the young guys. It was fun."
- We also spoke with Tino Sunseri today, who talked about the unique challenges the Carrier Dome can pose to an opposing offense. Last time Pitt was there, Sunseri connected with Devin Street on a swing pass for a 79-yard touchdown on their first play from scrimmage, so that sort of took the life out of the crowd. In a close game, though, that crowd and noise trapped by the dome can impact how an offense operates.
"Whenever you’re in those loud type of environments, you always use the same snap counts," Sunseri said. "You’re going on silent and those guys on the outside are really looking at the ball and the tackles are focused on the guards. We have to make sure that we’re understanding the situation, making sure that [center Ryan] Turnley’s getting his calls out clearly, making sure that the finger points, understanding the Mike [linebacker] calls and everything."
Pitt is 6-9-1 all-time at the Carrier Dome, but has won four of its last five trips there.
- Friday will be a reunion of sorts for Sunseri, Andrew Taglianetti and Syracuse linebacker Dan Vaughan. All three were seniors on Central Catholic's 2007 undefeated state championship team.
"The best thing about our team is that you felt like you were playing among brothers," Sunseri said. "That’s one thing that’s special at Central."
In fact, there will be five guys on the field that took part in that memorable 2007 WPIAL championship game between Central and Gateway. Sunseri, Taglianetti and Vaughan were on the Vikings team that won 35-34 in overtime, and Saddler and Shayne Hale were seniors for the Gators that year.
That's all for tonight. Like I said, no more players this week because of the short week, but we'll get Chryst tomorrow afternoon, where he'll give us a last minute update (including any injury news) before the Syracuse game Friday.