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Panthers sit in same spot as Irish: what if?

Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Pittsburgh Panthers have been inconsistent this season, much like Notre Dame has been.

But that doesn’t mean the Irish aren’t concerned about the Panthers, as they see them as a very dangerous team.

“You see two teams that will have a very similar approach in terms of attitude about how important this football game is,” Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham said.

Pittsburgh doesn’t have Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver anymore, but Willingham said its offense could potentially present problems for the Irish defense.

“We know this is a very dangerous team,” Willingham said. “From an offensive standpoint, it’s difficult to say, but true, in many regards this offense may be a more ‘team’ offense than the offense they had a year ago with Larry Fitzgerald. They are doing some things a lot better and don’t rely on just one guy as they did a year ago. Any time you have more weapons at your disposal, it makes you a greater challenge. We know defensively they are a physical group that can run around. Even though on some games they’ve given up yardage, they will play their best ballgame this weekend and that goes without saying. “

Struggling to find consistency

Willingham acknowledged Tuesday that his offensive production has not been as good as he had hoped. However, he reiterated that if the Irish win, there can’t be too much to complain about.

“How do you fix it?” Willingham said. “How do you try to get it better? Our guys are trying, they’re working hard, they’re playing to do the best they can do. Our quarterback doesn’t want to throw any incompletions, I don’t think our linemen want to miss a block, I don’t think Coach Willingham wants to put them in a bad situation. We’re trying to do all those things. But do understand, the number one prerequisite for Coach Willingham is we won.”

Injury report

Willingham said Tuesday that true freshman Chris Vaughn was out for the season with a knee injury. Vaughn played on special teams primarily, and saw a limited amount of action at wide receiver this season.

Maurice Stovall left Saturday’s game with an ankle injury that has been reoccurring this season. Willingham said he expected Stovall to be fine by the end of the week.

Another true freshman, Justin Hoskins did not travel to Tennessee because of an injury. Hoskins had been returning kickoffs for the Irish. He was replaced Saturday by Matt Shelton.