If you are around Paul Chryst’s Pitt Panthers football team, there is something different about the Panthers this season.
While Pitt is one of the youngest teams in the entire nation, there is a certain confidence in that locker room right now that hasn’t been seen nor felt in the past few years.
None of that has to really do with their 62-0 rout of Delaware to open the season. While that was certainly a nice way to start the season, this Panthers team has bigger goals in mind for the 2014 season.
If you walk past running back James Conner he is wearing a wristband that simply has the word NOW printed on it in big letters.
“The time is now,” said Conner, who rushed for 153 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday. “Everybody on our team in interviews say they want to win, win the ACC Championship, win ten games. To do all of that there is no other time than now. Why not us? Why not now?”
The why not us attitude is something nice to see from this Pitt team.
And why not Pitt?
They are certainly talented and the ACC schedule lines up nicely for them to potentially do big things in 2014.
Even if Conner’s expectations may seem a little lofty at this time, it’s nice to be around a Pitt team that believes they are capable of big things for a change.
What’s even better for the Panthers future is that there has been a complete culture change in the locker room.
It takes time for a new coach to turn around a program. And while I won’t say that Chryst has done that yet, it is a step in the right direction. During his third season on the Pitt sidelines, Chryst finally has his team. While that team may be very young, it is filled with the guys Chryst wants and can work with.
Changing the culture and attitude of the locker room is the biggest task and at least early on, it is something that has spread team wide.
“It’s awesome,” said Pitt safety and captain Ray Vinopal. “It’s a complete culture change. The captains brought everyone in last night (to talk), no coaches, no staff members. The atmosphere of the team is (really) different. It is a completely different culture now and it definitely was different from past openers.”
For the first time under Chryst, the Panthers will be entering Week 2 on a high note, having won an opener for the first time in three tries.
Now the key is going to be to forget what they did against Delaware and move onto a tougher challenge Friday night on the road against Boston College.
That could be easier said than done.
“It was a good game Saturday in many ways,” said Chryst. “We were able to play 64 guys and 23 of them had their first action at Pitt so that was good. It was exciting to get going and now we’re looking forward to Friday night. We’re playing a good Boston College team and the kids were back at it Sunday and yesterday so it was good. A lot of the guys were excited for other guys who were able to get in. I’m appreciative of the effort, but they were pointing towards that one was now over. I liked the way they handled it the right way. “
Is the time truly now for the Panthers?
That’s still debatable, but if you are a Pitt fan, you have to love that attitude from the team.
We will find out a little more about whether now is indeed the time for Pitt beginning on Friday.
But step one is believing that you can win and that is certainly the mindset of this team.
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Sports Report