PITTSBURGH -- The Pitt Panthers' 26-21 loss to Georgia Tech last weekend was bad. On their home field, the Panthers were outmuscled by a 1-3 team that had just fired it's own head coach. But the team is trying to turn this loss into an opportunity.
Pitt doesn't want to dwell on the ugly defeat but they want it to fuel them. Head coach Pat Narduzzi told his players that it would and that the Yellow Jackets had not done the Panthers' next opponent, Virginia Tech, any favors by making this team angry.
“I think it was Coach Duzz who said on Monday that Georgia Tech woke a beast," tight end Gavin Bartholomew said. "So [Virginia Tech is] going to see a ticked off team ready to go on Saturday.”
That has played out in practice according to Bartholomew and wide receiver Jared Wayne. Their midweek preparation for the Hokies has been sharper and the energy has taken a step up. Pitt believes their fate lies in the details and Wayne doesn't want to fall short of a successful season because players weren't focused enough.
“This week has been really intense for us and we’re definitely not satisfied with where we’ve been," Wayne said.
Luckily for the Panthers, many of them have experience handling defeat, learning from it and turning a negative into a positive. Pitt hasn't lost two games in a row since October of 2020. Losses to Western Michigan and Miami were both followed up with wins coming by 20 points or more.
This week, Wayne has detected a feeling similar to the post-Western Michigan and Miami days. He claims there is here is a silent, shared understanding about what standard this team wants to hold one another to and their practices have reflected that. The Panthers believe they are capable of more, but have to prove it on the field.
“It was a similar feel from what we experienced last year," Wayne said. "There wasn’t a [team] meeting or anything but I don’t think it’s necessary. Guys get the message. It’s unacceptable so we just have to be better.”
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