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Morning Java: Pitt needs to let it all out tonight

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Monday column covers the first day of the rest of the Pirates’ lives.

Here’s some of my one-on-one with Justin Morneau after his Pittsburgh debut …

The club went down hard to the Cardinals yesterday. Rob Biertempfel reports.

Here’s the rest of our baseball coverage. Here’s Cardinals news from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Brewers news from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. And here are official game highlights from

>> Tonight, of course, belongs to Pitt.

The Panthers can make their season debut in dynamic style — or will it be a dud? — in facing No. 11 Florida State at Heinz Field. I’ll be over the write a column off the event, and I’m looking forward to it as much as anything in recent months, if only for what it could represent.

It could be huge. First game in the ACC. Beating a ranked, big-name team in the opener. A first true signature win for Paul Chryst. All that and more.

Which is why I posed the following question to tight end J.P Holtz

Posed the same thing to Chryst, and this was his response: “I think that’s a fair question, but I don’t anticipate that. You try and get a read on your guys, and I know them one year better than last year. We have some good veterans. This isn’t the first big game that our guys have played in. Some of the younger guys have to learn it, but I think our guys will be fine.”

I don’t know. There’s a large skill disparity, in particular.

But I do know this: Most upsets in football are founded in having the edge in turnovers, and that means being aggressive as possible on defense. If I’m the Panthers, I’m going out there erring on the side of recklessness, especially given that their top actual playmakers are on defense: Aaron Donald will disrupt as much as any lineman in the ACC. Jason Hendricks had six picks last season.

That’s what Pitt needs more than anything tonight.

Here’s our full Pitt coverage. And if you missed it yesterday, here’s a heart-wrenching piece on Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher by Jerry DiPaola.

>> The Steelers are back at practice today, and things are about to get real. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t first revisit this one thing from over the weekend …

Jonathan Dwyer?

We won’t hear from Mike Tomlin about the Steelers’ most surprising cut until later today, but it should be compelling. Of all the running backs to make the final roster, only newcomer Felix Jones made it through the preseason injury-free. Dwyer did, too, of course. And that’s to say nothing of Dwyer leading the team in 2012 with 623 yards despite getting double-digit carries in only eight games.

Here’s guessing you’ll hear at least something about Dwyer’s two preseason fumbles. That would be consistent on Tomlin’s part. Last year in Oakland, the coach embarrassed Dwyer by posting on the team message board that he wouldn’t play the following week.

Well, pay the fumble narrative no heed: In 181 career NFL carries, Dwyer’s got two fumbles. In 517 carries at Georgia Tech, he had zero.

Here’s our full Steelers coverage, including the Sunday column with my season prediction.

>> Allen Robinson, Penn State’s graceful junior wide receiver who had six catches for 115 yards Saturday to beat Syracuse — despite being benched for the first half — is a playmaker unlike anyone at Pitt or West Virginia. Someone in that mold must be the top priority for Chryst and Dana Holgorsen.

Here’s our Penn State coverage, by new beat man Chris Adamski.

>> WPXI-TV’s The Final Word last night was filled with fireworks over the Pirates, Steelers and Pitt.

>> I’ll say hello to the TribLIVE Radio crew at 11:30 a.m.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

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