Pitt junior Fields stepping into a new role
College Football Videos
It's now or never for Scoot.
Pitt junior free safety Elijah Fields will begin an increased new role when the Panthers play host to Navy on Saturday at Heinz Field.
"Opportunities come in different ways at different times," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "His is now."
Fields became a full-time starter for the first time in his career when sophomore Andrew Taglianetti sustained a torn ACL in his left knee Saturday at Buffalo.
The season-ending injury means the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Fields will get another chance to finally achieve the potential he showed when he picked Pitt (2-0) over Penn State and Ohio State as one of the top high school safeties in the nation.
"We have 100 percent confidence in Elijah," middle linebacker Adam Gunn said. "He's a great athlete. He played a lot for us last year. Now, he's just stepping into a different role."
Against Buffalo, Fields showed the infuriating inconsistency that has marked his days at Pitt. He was out of position, missed a tackle or took a bad angle, leading to big plays.
But he also made a nifty open-field tackle on fourth down to end one drive and intercepted a pass with 3:26 to play to set up a touchdown.
"For not getting all of the first-team reps, I thought he went in and played well," Wannstedt said. "I expect him to take the torch and move forward."
Fields is focusing on football this week. He wasn't made available for questions after Wannstedt's news conference Monday, and Pitt officials said he's off limits until after the Navy game.
Fields can make a statement Saturday.
His first career start at free safety comes against a Navy offense that preys on mental lapses and ranks among the nation's leaders in rushing. Fields' two starts last season came at strong safety — against Iowa and Syracuse.
Fields has never played against Navy. He was suspended for the 2007 season, taking a redshirt, and he didn't play in Pitt's 42-21 victory over Navy last year — the only game he sat out all season.
Wannstedt said Fields' absence wasn't any lack of faith in the former Duquesne High School star against a Navy triple-option attack.
Rather, because Fields played primarily in the nickel and dime packages, he wasn't needed against a Midshipmen offense that attempted only eight passes.
"Last year, it was not a concern of him getting in," Wannstedt said. "He just didn't play. He was a nickel back and ... we really didn't even use that package."
Fields, tied for fourth on the team with eight tackles, will be backed up by redshirt senior Irvan Brown and redshirt freshman Jarred Holley.
Fields, asked to play different positions in varied sub-packages over the years, finally has a defined, set role.
"He's ready," Gunn said. "He's played in big games. He has experience. I think he's definitely ready."
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.
- Penguins acquire defensemen Lovejoy, Cole in deadline deals
- Power play shines in Penguins’ home victory over Blue Jackets
- Pirates starting pitcher Worley is in right place, right time with team
- Icy roads bring numerous accidents in Western Pa.
- No tag for Worilds; Steelers cut Moore
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- Teacher conduct under spotlight in Pennsylvania
- Pirates sickened by pic of ‘Jihadi John’ wearing Bucs ball cap
- Passion for speed fuels Ligonier man’s slippery dash in winter rally
- Greensburg pair jailed in convenience store robbery
- Pitt women end regular season with win over Clemson