Freshmen Bostick-McCoy Start At UVA
Pat Bostick
Senior Writer
Posted Sep 24, 2007


In an attempt to get his offense untracked, Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt has decided to start freshmen in two key skilled positions in the Panthers nonconference road game this week.

Pat Bostick starts at quarterback for Pittsburgh (2-2) after a loss to Connecticut in the Big East-opener, while LeSean McCoy opens at tailback at Virginia (3-1) Saturday at 7 p.m. at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va.

"(Bostick) had a good practice (Sunday), so he'll start it off,'' Wannstedt said during his weekly press conference Monday. "I think it's best to let him know up front, he was in here this morning, that he will be the starter.

"So, he'll get an opportunity to take all the reps with the first group, and we'll try to prepare a game plan that enables him to have success, that enables us to score enough points to win the game.''

While Bostick did throw three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, he did some good things on his way to 27-for-41 passing for 230 yards and one touchdown all in the second half.

"He actually made some pretty good decisions and got rid of the ball quicker than I thought he would,'' Wannstedt said. "The biggest concern with a young quarterback is the speed of the game compared to practice. When you're out there, everything is coming at you fast. ... And you can hold onto a ball too long and then try to force it in there for an interception.

"That's what generally happens with young quarterbacks, and Pat really handled that pretty good. He threw the ball around, made a couple throws on the sideline that we weren't sure how he would handle that. He really didn't scramble and run. He's not there yet, but he did some positive things, enough for us to see if he can take the next step.''

Wannstedt noted that Bostick's strength and conditioning, which has been in question basically since his arrival, is getting much better.

"It's been a long process, but it's getting better,'' Wannstedt said. "And Pat's ready to go out there this week and lay it on the line, so we'll see what happens. I don't like his first start coming on the road, but ... we need to do it to try to win the game.''

Wannstedt added that the Panthers have allowed 51 points on defense the past two games, and 34 of those came off turnovers. Wannstedt said that was a shame, but it only meant that Pitt would continue to run the football.

"LeSean McCoy will start at tailback this week, but LaRod Stephens will play and will be a major part of our game plan and will be a part of what we're doing on offense,'' Wannstedt said. "He's a heckuva football player, but we'll take a look at that combination of Bostick and McCoy (on offense) and see if it gives us a little spark and what it brings for us.

"I'm not a big fan of sharing carries, and we really won't be doing that. A guy gets dinged or needs a breather, we'll be sharing more that way. ... So, I'm not into flipping guys, only trying to keep them fresh. (But) LaRod's done a lot of good things here, and LeSean's a freshman. So, you're trying to win the game and utilize the couple playmakers that we have.''

Thanks to turnovers against UConn, six overall, Pitt had a difficult time running plays. The Panthers had just 22 during the first half. No players were made available Monday, and the quarterbacks are off-limits this week as well, but Wannstedt had enough opinions to go around for everyone.

"We're trying to get enough carries to our backs, and we've got to get more opportunities,'' Wannstedt said. "But every time you turn the ball over, you lose at least one series and one possession, on average.

"And when you turn it over six times, you're looking at 20 plays that are very, very valuable, particularly when you're trying to gain some confidence (on offense). And, right now, that's what we've got to do on offense, because we don't have a lot of confidence, for the obvious reasons.''

But Wannstedt did not believe many other changes were necessary.

"No 1, we need to execute what we're doing better than what we are now,'' Wannstedt said. "Whether that's blocking, running, throwing to the right guy, running the right route, whatever it is. We need to execute better.''

Notes: Wannstedt said that while Kevan Smith hyperextended his right (throwing) elbow against UConn, he practiced Sunday night and will be the backup at Virginia. ... Sophomore Aaron Berry will start at field CB for the second straight game. ... And sophomore Tommie Duhart likely will get a second straight start at defensive tackle.


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