Navy Invades Pitt

Twenty-eight points.

That's the target number Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt is giving freshman quarterback Pat Bostick for Wednesday night's game against Navy. To Wannstedt, anything short of 28 points probably won't be enough to outscore Navy's productive triple-option offense that loves to control the ball and frustrate opponents.

The challenge is a significant one for Bostick, who was playing Pennsylvania high school football at this time a year ago and has made only one college start, a 44-14 loss at Virginia on Sept. 29.

``We need to take a step forward,'' Wannstedt said. ``In order for us to win this game, we're going to have to score 28 points and we're not going to do that totally on the ground. Pat has had some very good practices. I believe he is into it and knows what we're doing.''

Bostick never figured to be in this position nearly halfway through a Pitt season that may be rapidly falling apart.

The freshman will be starting his first home game because junior starter Bill Stull injured a thumb in the season opener and isn't close to returning and redshirt freshman Kevan Smith played poorly in a 34-14 home-field loss to Connecticut.

Pitt badly needs a victory against Navy (3-2), if only to give some confidence to an offense that is relying on two freshmen, Bostick and running back LeSean McCoy (503 yards in five games) for most of its production.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global  have made Pittsburgh -4.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 52 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 53% of bets for this game have been placed on Pittsburgh -4.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

The Panthers have yet to play the core of their Big East schedule - No. 15 Cincinnati, Rutgers, Louisville, No. 5 South Florida and No. 8 West Virginia. With so many difficult games ahead, they could be headed for their worst season since they were 2-9 under Walt Harris in 1998.

Wannstedt, 13-15 in three seasons, said last week he still has the support of the administration. But the man who hired him in late 2004, former athletic director Jeff Long, left this month for Arkansas after not receiving a counteroffer from Pitt.

No wonder Pitt needs a turnaround in a hurry. The problem is Navy, which is coming off a 31-20 victory over Air Force, figures to be a difficult assignment because of its disciplined offense.

``We need to get back on track and we need this game to get to .500, and we'll go from there,'' Wannstedt said.

Wannstedt may be looking for some outside help in this one. Tony Dorsett and Curtis Martin, two of the top 10 leading rushers in NFL history, will attend the game and Wannstedt intends to have them speak to his players if possible.

Of course, Navy could do the same if it chooses with former star quarterback Roger Staubach, who, with Dorsett, will serve as honorary captains of the first Navy-Pitt game since 1989. The game is being played at midweek so it can be televised.

Navy is giving up a lot of points - 157, or more than 30 per game. Rutgers, a 41-24 winner, and Duke, a 46-43 loser, both ran up more than 40 points against the Midshipmen.

That might provide some encouragement to the Panthers, but they've shown in their last two games they shouldn't be getting into high-scoring tilts while losing by 20 points to UConn and 30 to Virginia.

Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is the key to the triple offense, an older style offense similar to that once run by Oklahoma and by West Virginia when Jim Carlen was the Mountaineers' coach in the 1960s.

Kaheaku-Enhada has run for 418 yards and seven touchdowns on a team that is No. 2 nationally in rushing and averages 348 yards. He has attempted 49 passes, or fewer than 10 per game, and has only two TD passes. Eric Kettani, the fullback, averages 6 yards per carry and has gained 318 yards.

``If we can't run the ball, we are going to be in real trouble,'' coach Paul Johnson said. ``We aren't going to go in there and beat them by throwing the ball. Now, can we hit some big plays and supplement what we have to do? You hope so.''

by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us

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