October 31, 2006

Panthers prepare for defensive speed

South Florida is a geographic area known for producing football players with speed. As such, the University of South Florida is quickly becoming a college football program that is associated with speed. While the Pitt defense is going to make the Bulls' speed a primary focus during meetings and practices leading up to Saturday's game, the Panthers' offense has to worry about speed as well.

"They're the same type of team that they've been, as far as team speed and athletic defensive players," Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko said this week. "It's the same type of animal that we've faced the last couple years, as far as their athleticism and talent level, so we're going to need to prepare a lot this week in team speed.

"We're in for a dogfight down there because they're a really good football team. You look at the games they've played and they're a couple breaks away from being a one, maybe two-loss football team. That means we need to be prepared."

USF enters the game with a 5-3 overall record, 1-2 in the Big East. The Bulls are coming off a 23-6 loss at Cincinnati but, like Pitt, they spent this past weekend at home enjoying a bye week. The combination of an off-week and a fast South Florida team puts an extra emphasis on the Panthers' ability to open the game well.

"When you're coming off a bye week, you need to come out of the gate and start fast, because the speed that you're practicing against during the week is not game speed," Dave Wannstedt said. "So I think because of having the bye week and because you're playing a team that has speed at every position, we have to start fast."

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