Pitt backups more than special
College Football Videos
During their days at Pitt, Elijah Fields and Andrew Taglianetti have done some of their best work just after the ball left someone's foot.
Now, they are kicking around other duties.
The two safeties/special teamers have branched out to assume more valuable roles in an increasingly deeper Panthers secondary.
Fields, who hardly played against Navy and Rutgers, and Taglianetti made key plays in Pitt's 36-33, four-overtime victory last Saturday at Notre Dame.
The two emerging safeties look to stay involved when No. 25 Pitt (6-2, 2-1) hosts Louisville (5-3, 1-2) at noon Saturday at Heinz Field.
"I just like being out there," Fields said. "Every opportunity I get to get on the field, I'm happy with it."
Taglianetti, a season-long factor on special teams, took some rare snaps in the "dime" defense (six defensive backs) against Notre Dame.
"I think coach (defensive coordinator Phil) Bennett has a lot of faith in both of us," Taglianetti said.
During a seven-play span of the third quarter, the two former WPIAL stars made the most of their playing time. With Notre Dame leading 17-10, Taglianetti shot in for a third-down tackle on a screen pass and, on the next play, Fields alertly jumped on T.J. Porter's muffed punt return. After a Pat Bostick interception, Fields cut down Malcolm Floyd after a fourth-and-7 catch.
Fields was on the field for roughly 75 percent of the defensive plays against Notre Dame, one of his busiest afternoons of the season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Fields is showing the promise he brought to Pitt as a star recruit from Duquesne High School.
"I knew it was coming real soon," Fields said. "I just had to step up and make some plays, show people I can play. Big-time players make big plays, so I tried to do that."
Said coach Dave Wannstedt, "We feel good about Elijah."
While Fields came to Pitt surrounded by hype, Taglianetti wasn't even expecting to play this season. The former Central Catholic star planned to "gray-shirt" and join the team in January. But a scholarship opened up, and the son of former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Peter Taglianetti got his chance this summer.
"It's a blessing," the 18-year-old Taglianetti said. "I'm just trying to make the most of this opportunity."
Taglianetti blocked Eric Maust's punt midway through the first quarter to set up the first of Conor Lee's five field goals.
It was Taglianetti's second blocked kick of the season; he partially blocked a punt in the victory over Iowa. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Taglianetti blocked nine kicks at Central Catholic and blocked a field goal in last summer's Big 33 Classic.
Fields, who is on the kickoff and punt return teams, is second string behind strong safety Dom DeCicco. But anytime Pitt has more than four defensive backs on the field, Fields is one of them.
"Elijah Fields probably has as much to do as any player on our entire defense because he's in about four or five personnel packages," coach Dave Wannstedt said.
Taglianetti, along with junior Irv Brown, backs up senior Eric Thatcher at free safety. Taglianetti is part of all three block teams - punt, extra point and field goal.
Fields, who started against Iowa and Syracuse but lost his job due to inconsistent play, is staying positive despite his in-again, out-again season.
"It's pretty tough," he said, "but I'll just keep my head up and keep working hard because you know I'm going to get the opportunity to play."
Wannstedt said Fields and Taglianetti remain as important as ever on special teams.
"I approach the special teams and offense and defense the opposite way," he said. "I tell the players, 'If you're tired in a game, we'll give you a rest on defense, but we're not going to take you off special teams.' If you're a starter on special teams, that's a priority."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Course correction
- Alvarez homer triggers winning outburst for Pirates
- Water rules: States v. EPA
- Residents return from church to discover fire-damaged Greensburg home
- Possible to tackle wet basement from inside
- How to decide on a driveway alarm system
- Pine-Richland graduate helps spark U.S. to Women’s World Cup final
- Man charged with passing counterfeit bills at Rivers Casino
- What you can learn from reading a wine label
- Pirates claim Ishikawa off waivers; Marte injured
- U.N. Watch: Coddling anti-Semites