October 2, 2006

Pitt notes: Solid specialties

As Pitt's defense has been praised this season for its improvement and turnover-happy play, and the team's offense, particularly quarterback Tyler Palko, has been praised for a big-play, quick-strike ability that was lacking last year, the Panthers' special teams have fallen by the wayside, in terms of recognition at least.

"Our special teams are doing really good. That's something you don't talk about." head coach Dave Wannstedt said Monday.

Senior punter Adam Graessle probably the Panther with the best pro potential, ranks 20th in the nation with an average of 43.16 yards per punt, and is coming off an exemplary performance against Toledo when he averaged 42.3 yards on three punts and placed two inside the 20 yard line. On top of that, Graessle added five touchbacks on his eight kickoffs against the Rockets on Saturday.

"He's kicking well and he's kicking the ball out of the end zone," Wannstedt said of Graessle. "That means your defense is starting on the 20 instead of the 30 or 40. And we've downed more punts this year inside the 20 than we did last year. So I'm very pleased."

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