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November 10, 2005

Wannstedt discusses upcoming contest

Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt addressed the media earlier this week and here are some of his comments.

UConn (4-4, 1-3 Big East) visits Pittsburgh at noon Saturday at Heinz Field.

On UConn's offense and defense

The strength of their offense is running the football. With the quarterback graduating last year, that's the direction that they've gone. And I'm not so sure that even last year that the running backs weren't the best part of their offense.

They've got a little bit of a dilemma going on at quarterback. Who we'll see, we're not even sure. Both of the quarterbacks are both good athletes. They can both run. We have to take that into account.

Their running game from the perspective of the running backs and the quarterbacks combined is really the biggest challenge for the defense. For our offense, it's going to be running the ball. They do a good job of getting eight or nine guys up there. I think they're still statistically in the top of the league for scoring defense. They make you block. That will be the challenge for us up front.

On UConn's quarterback situation

Experience (is the main difference). They're both good athletes. They both can make a lot of yards running the ball. Dennis Brown is a true freshman, so he's inexperienced there probably, although I thought he's played well. He's an accurate passer. He's a kid that we had in here last year on an official visit.

On playing running backs LaRod Stephens-Howling or Rashad Jennings

Most of the time you run with the hot hand. You know in the back of your mind what each guy brings to the table. It's just a feel thing.

LaRod wasn't feeling as good the second half, health-wise. He's not hurt, but he was banged up a little bit so we went with Rashad. The problem with Rashad was, when we got behind, he's going to move the chains for us and he's going to make some first downs, but now we need big plays.

We needed to score quick, and LaRod gives us that. That's what we were kind of into the second half a little bit.

On Tyler Palko's comments about the team's work ethic

Tyler's very emotional, and nobody works harder than Tyler. There's probably nobody on our team, in his mind, that works hard enough. That's him. That's what you love about him.

He's constantly not going to challenge guys by what he says, but he'll challenge them just by example. He works on and off the field in doing all the little things to give himself the best chance to be the best that he can be. I don't mind that attitude. I think you keep that stuff in-house you know. But I don't think he was really taking a shot at anybody. I'm sure it was just a little bit of emotion and a little bit of frustration we all had.

On UConn's will to keep going on despite injuries

I think they're well coached. They've got quality players. We know a lot of these kids from recruiting against them. They're competing and recruiting in the same regions that we are.

And then going to a bowl game last year, I think really was a major step for their program. They do a very good job. We'll need a good week of preparation getting ready for this one.

PittsburghPanthers.com contributed to this report.

Adam Gorney covers UConn sports for Rivals.com and can be reached at gorney@rivals.com.



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