Pitt Notebook: Too many penalties for Wannstedt

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Pitt players spent Sunday morning running and doing other conditioning drills and watching video because coach Dave Wannstedt was unhappy about the number of penalties in a 44-17 victory against Florida International.

The Panthers were penalized 10 times for 64 yards, seven of which were offside on the defense or false start on the offense. And those are penalties that Wannstedt said were unacceptable.

"It is a lack of concentration," he said. "You start talking about not lining up offside from the first day you start playing football. There is no excuse for it. To line up offside on defense is a joke. It is a just a complete joke.

"A great passer might jump the gun occasionally, that happens and you live with it. But to line up offside it is like we are wasting a lot of money bringing officials out here to practices every week to watch for those things. But we're going to make a change this week because if an official sees someone offside, we're going to make a note of it and they are going to run after practice."

Wannstedt hires officials to come to practice every Wednesday to look out for such things as the alignment of receivers and defensive linemen and players in motion on offense.

He also does it as a weekly reminder to his players that they need to be focused on the details every play and need to recognize that penalties help contribute to losses.

Despite that, the Panthers have been the worst team in the Big East in this department -- the Panthers have been penalized 38 times (9.5 per game) -- and rank 119 out of 120 teams in Division I-A, ahead of only Troy, in penalties per game.

That is quite a difference from a year ago when the Panthers averaged only 5.1 per game to rank 21st nationally.

Big game experience

Pitt plays Saturday at Notre Dame in its second road game of the season. While Notre Dame Stadium will be a hostile environment for Pitt -- the stadium seats 80,795 -- it won't be any louder than it was when the Panthers visited Utah in the season opener Sept. 2.

"I'm hopeful and optimistic that the Utah experience of playing on the road in front of a full house in a very loud atmosphere will pay dividends for us going up to South Bend," Wannstedt said. "This will not be the first time we've been exposed to that kind of atmosphere."

Tags to riches

Safety Andrew Taglianetti has finally reached the end of a long road back to recovery from a major knee injury last year, and his playing time has increased every week.

Wannnstedt said Taglianetti is going to continue to have his role expanded as he continues to get healthy and stronger.

"Some guys have good speed, intelligence and athletic ability but can't seem to make a play and don't have that football savvy and instincts," Wannstedt said. "He is a very instinctive player; he will play a bigger role in both defense and special teams this week. He is just about back to where he was before he injured his knee.

"Last week, we used him as a nickle back, a dime back, a safety and he was on kickoff team and punt team. ... He is ready, he is anxious and he has been bugging me so we'll get him back in the mix."

Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720


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