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Pitt coach not fond of statement by linemen

Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt isn't a fan of his players drawing attention to themselves with their outward appearance — especially before the Backyard Brawl — so he was a bit torn about his starting offensive linemen sporting bleached-blonde Mohawk haircuts this week.

"You better be ready to back it up — that's what I told them," said Wannstedt, a left tackle at Pitt in the early 1970s. "The great thing about playing the offensive line is nobody knows who you are except the people in that meeting room and that building. We know how important they are.

"They all did it, and (right guard) John Malecki's mother (Angela) is a hairdresser, so I'm sure they did it for free. Those two things, that sounds like offensive linemen: they all did it together and they got it for free."

· The Panthers are preparing for their trip to Morgantown by practicing to music familiar to the Mountaineers. John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" has been blaring through loudspeakers all week.

"It's funny," senior tight end Dorin Dickerson said. "Every year we prepare for West Virginia, they play that song — not their fight song; I don't even know what song it is — every day at our practice. It gets us real excited at practice. I can't wait to play this week."

· Dickerson isn't paying much attention to his spot as one of three finalists for the Mackey Award, presented to the nation's best tight end, but he is aware that West Virginia's 3-5-3 stack defense won't allow as many mismatches as he's seen this season because it employs three safeties. But Dickerson does see a bright side to the dilemma.

"They do drop down the safeties a lot, and that might not be too good for me," Dickerson said, "but it's just going to open someone else up."

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