A day after Pitt tight end J.P. Holtz fired a few verbal volleys at Notre Dame, two of his upperclassmen teammates downplayed any hate and revenge factors for Saturday's game at Heinz Field.
Pitt came closer than any team to knocking off Notre Dame in the regular season last fall, falling a missed 33-yard field goal (and a missed call by the officials) short of winning in South Bend. Notre Dame went on to win, 29-26, in triple overtime and earned a berth in the BCS Championship.
Defensive back K'Waun Williams -- who picked off Everett Golson and was whistled for a key pass interference call all in the fourth quarter of last year's game -- said there's not a great thirst for revenge among his teammates.
"Last year's game is last year's game," he said in a phone interview. "It's a new team, we're a new team, it's going to be a different battle."
Offensive lineman Matt Rotheram agreed.
"Just because we did this last year doesn't mean anything this year," he said. "I don't like to think about last year at all. I just approach this game like it's a brand new game, brand new team."
As for Holtz's comments, in which he decried Notre Dame players and coaches as "cocky," Rotheram said: "I'm not worried about it. I guess J.P. has his own opinion, but I don't think about it too much."
Both Williams and Rotheram expect a juiced-up crowd Saturday night, with the game being nationally-televised in primetime (nevermind that it's going up against LSU-Alabama). But, as is the case whenever Pitt plays Notre Dame, there's added energy around the team.
"Every time we play Notre Dame it's a big game," Williams said. "The hype is always going to be there, and we're ready, everybody's excited to play Notre Dame. No different than any other year."