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It’s Personal: Western Michigan Gives Pitt As Much Motivation As Ever



As David Green stood surrounded by a semi-circle of media members in the Pitt team room Tuesday, he couldn’t help but feel a bit like Michael Jordan.

Green wasn’t alive to watch Jordan win six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, but he was old enough to watch Jordan’s pursuit of a sixth and final NBA title with the Bulls in “The Last Dance” in 2020.

It was personal for Jordan. And Western Michigan is personal for Green.

“Oh, no, that’s not in the past,” Green said at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex Tuesday. “I feel like Michael Jordan right now in (The Last Dance) documentary. Like, ‘Yeah, this is it.’”

Pitt has traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan this time around, nearly 400 miles away from the confines of home, but that feeling from last season won’t ever be escaped. A 44-41 loss at what-was-then Heinz Field wasn’t just costly when it came to Pitt’s season goals, it was a performance that’s been used to belittle the team ever since.

Pat Narduzzi certainly hasn’t had to bring up the feeling of last season’s loss.

“You know, it’s like I said earlier in the week: do I have to say anything?” Narduzzi said Thursday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I think the game speaks for itself. So, I really don’t need to say much. I think the game speaks for itself.”

Green took 32 snaps against Western Michigan last season, recording three tackles (two solo), and he’ll likely have an even bigger role to play this time around. After making the start alongside Calijah Kancey against Tennessee last week, his ability to impact the game from the middle of the defense will be crucial — especially when it comes to stopping the run.

And another player who will be crucial to stopping the other aspect of Western Michigan’s RPO offense — except on the back end — is Erick Hallett. He racked up 53 snaps in a start against the Broncos, and it would be fair to say he’s seen better days. It was a rough day in coverage against the likes of Skyy Moore and Corey Crooms — who is back this season — but he’s started this season off strong. And a rematch is the perfect chance to exercise any lingering demons.

“I would say definitely, no one likes to lose to anybody, especially seeing that we’re able to play them again — get revenge, per se,” Hallett said Wednesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “So, there’s always a little bit of added motivation for that, but it’s also the next game on our schedule.”

And it’s not just the chance for a rematch against Western Michigan either. While the Broncos may hold a special level of motivation, as Carter Warren said, after last week’s loss to Tennessee, Pitt has as much motivation as ever this week.

Kick-off at Western Michigan’s Waldo Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. — a home opener for the Broncos under the lights.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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