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Old 08-28-2006, 04:18 AM   #1
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Default No reason to worry ... is there?

By Guy Junker
FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, August 28, 2006


One thing we learned last year is that the NFL preseason means little when trying to project what will happen in the regular season.
Remember how pathetic the Steelers passing game was last August?

After that, they still had a pretty decent year -- all the way to February, as I recall.

Good thing. This August, they are winless and lifeless.

But Hines Ward has yet to play, and Ben Roethlisberger has played the equivalent of one half.

While the passing game came into question last summer, it's the running game that's struggled this year. None of the candidates has done anything to instill confidence in the Steeler Nation -- or in Bill Cowher, for that matter.

Last week, Cowher declared that nobody has stepped up to take the short yardage job, meaning that Willie Parker just might be the man for all, or most, occasions.

That can't be good. If you want him to remain "Fast" Willie, keep him from getting pounded in goal-line situations.

? If you really want something to worry about, consider Ward.

His contributions to the Steelers offense go so far beyond catching the football. With his blocking, he is arguably the most complete receiver in the league. His absence affects the running game.

Hope that his troublesome hamstring comes around. Or maybe, what we have seen in the preseason just may continue.

? Victory predictions for Pitt, Penn State and West Virginia: Pitt will win seven games, Penn State eight and West Virginia 10.

With just eight scholarship seniors, Pitt is too young and inexperienced to win much more than seven. Having no place-kickers with experience is scary.

The Panthers' strength is their youth, and they could challenge for the top spot in the conference in the next few years.

The good news is, with Louisville and West Virginia both coming to Heinz Field at the end of the year, the Panthers could make some noise in November if they develop quickly.

Penn State has a brutal September, with road games at Notre Dame and Ohio State.

The Nittany Lions' personnel losses are concentrated too much in the same areas. They have an entirely new starting secondary, just one starting offensive lineman returning and a new quarterback.

There are just too many question marks to expect anything close to last year's showing.

West Virginia has nine starters back on offense from a team that lost just one game last year, but they have just three defensive starters returning.

Road games at both Louisville and Pitt will be tough, especially with Louisville returning 53 lettermen -- the most in the conference.

? Do you think Jim Rooker's legs started to hurt when he heard last week that the Kansas City Royals had scored 10 runs in the first inning and still lost?

The only other team in major-league history to do that was the Pirates. It happened in Philadelphia when Rooker was a broadcaster and, of course, uttered the famous line: "If we lose this one, I'll walk back to Pittsburgh."

After the season, he fulfilled his promise, raising money for charity along the way.

Just what the Bucs needed, though -- yet another comparison with Kansas City.

? One position the Pirates apparently don't have to worry about next year is closer.

Mike Gonzalez has answered most of his critics in his first season finishing out games. He's a perfect 24 of 24 in save opportunities, and his other pitching numbers are as good or better than almost all of the closers in the National League. Only Trevor Hoffman of the Padres has a better ERA.

Anyone who watched him strike out the side in Atlanta last Wednesday on 11 pitches has an idea of what he is capable of.

Gonzalez is a lefty, and I would rather have a righty closer, with there being so many more right-handed batters to face. But a lefty on the hill at PNC Park is never a bad idea.

Protecting a ninth-inning lead hasn't been a problem for the Pirates. Getting to the ninth inning with a lead is another matter.

? I wonder if that guy from Brentwood who is accused of impersonating various Steelers can do a Jerome Bettis imitation?

If so, give him a uniform and tell him to report to the South Side
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Old 08-28-2006, 05:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: No reason to worry ... is there?

Pitt winning 7 games????
I really think that Penn State will win 10! And they will knock off OSU again this season
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Old 08-28-2006, 08:35 AM   #3
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Default Re: No reason to worry ... is there?

Quote:
Remember how pathetic the Steelers passing game was last August?

After that, they still had a pretty decent year -- all the way to February, as I recall.
Enough said.
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Old 08-28-2006, 09:26 AM   #4
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Default Re: No reason to worry ... is there?

Penn State winning 8 Games??!?!??!?!?! BS. Penn State will win 10. Penn State will continue their rise back to the top. Morelli will have growing pains early yes, but once he gets through Notre Dame and the Ohio State Games it's smooth sailing.
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