4-1-Zoo: Gruder Trying To Lead In Brand New System
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — It’s easy to look down a football roster and pick out who the leaders are.
Any player that has a junior class standing or higher, or even redhsirt sophomores in some cases, are expected to shoulder some weight and help younger players along. It’s their duty to not only perform well on the field, but show younger players the ropes to help for the future of the program.
Pitt’s juniors and seniors have all of those responsibilities and expectations, but they also have a learning curve of their own.
First-year coach Todd Graham has arrived with drastically different offensive and defensive systems compared to what former coach Dave Wannstedt implemented. The idea is still the same — be a “hard-nosed, physical football team” — but the systems and tempo are not.
Needless to say, it’s forced the entire team to adjust to the type of change this program hasn’t seen in a long time.
The transition from Walt Harris to Wannstedt wasn’t terribly different, although it did take a while for Wannstedt to find the players he wanted. Both had pro-style backgrounds and their offense and defense reflected that mentality.
Before their time, spread offenses were barely a flickering idea in the minds of many coaches.
So it will be interesting to see how Pitt adjusts early on in the season. Games against Buffalo and Maine — typically viewed as fluff games and easy wins on the schedule — will be big tests for the Panthers.
I caught up with Pitt linebacker Max Gruder at media day to talk about the adjustments so far — including the change in workouts, schemes and mentality. He talked about what he’s trying to do as a leader and what his new roles and responsibilities will be.
Here’s what he had to say…