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Closer-knit Pitt football team is bracing for ACC

| Thursday, July 25, 2013, 10:51 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty looks to throw a block during the spring game on Friday, April 12, 2013 at Bethel Park High School.

No one knows much about the Pitt football team, which opens summer camp Aug. 6. Expectations aren't especially high.

But redshirt freshman Adam Bisnowaty, who will be protecting the quarterback's blind side with zero collegiate snaps on his resume, said a bond is forming among players.

“We weren't as close last year,” said Bisnowaty, a Fox Chapel graduate. “This year, everything I do is with another teammate, whether it's going to eat or going to class or going out on weekends.

“I don't think anyone watches film by themselves anymore. The whole offensive line was up here (Wednesday) watching film. This year is a much closer group.”

On the field, Bisnowaty said practice will be easier for him because he knows the plays and what to expect from his coaches.

“Last year, I really didn't know any plays the first day,” he said. “I was staying up until 12 o'clock at night and waking up at 5 in the morning trying to learn the plays.”

He also said he is comfortable talking to coach Paul Chryst. “It's like talking to my mom and dad,” he said.

Yet Chryst's style can be surprisingly brusque.

“We got caught off guard (last season) during bowl practice,” Bisnowaty said. “We were out there just doing the motions, and coach Chryst stopped (practice), and we started from the beginning. We know the fine line.”

Familiarity helps, but Pitt also must rebuild a roster in which the offensive line will have three new starters, the top two running backs and three-year starting quarterback are gone, and little experience exists at wide receiver beyond senior Devin Street.

That's where senior safety Jason Hendricks and a defense that returns eight starters become crucial.

“It's our job as a defense to fill in the holes and give us some extra (offensive) possessions,” said Hendricks, Pitt's lone entry on the preseason All-ACC team.

Bisnowaty admits ACC opponents he has seen on video are faster and stronger than teams Pitt faced in the Big East, but he said the team must embrace the challenge. That's especially true in the opener Sept. 2 against Florida State, which placed six players on the All-ACC team.

“Showing up against Florida State is going to be pretty big,” he said, “proving to everyone that we are a solid group and we are actually good players and we have a chance to win this year.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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