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U. of Pittsburgh
Notebook: Tailback enters course for offense

Thursday, November 22, 2001

By Shelly Anderson, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Pitt freshman tailback Mike Jemison yesterday entered the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, a 12-month probation for first-time offenders, in connection with his arrest in the summer for driving under the influence.

Jemison, who had a mandatory arraignment in Franklin County Court, also was ordered to pay $550 in fines and costs plus $25 a month in ARD costs. The court also suspended his driver's license for three months. He faces a possible further suspension of his license from PennDOT.

He has not been suspended from the team during the course of his case, but that could change. Coach Walt Harris declined to comment on Jemison's status, saying he wanted to talk to Jemison and learn more about the results of the case.

"We were hoping he would be here for practice," Harris said. Jemison did not return to Pittsburgh in time for the workout.

Jemison has played sparingly this season, rushing for 43 yards on 14 carries.

He was arrested in the early hours of Aug. 2 in his hometown of Greencastle, Pa.

Unruly WVU fans

The crowd might be a little thin Saturday at Mountaineer Field, what with West Virginia 3-7 with just one Big East Conference victory and a lot of the students away for the Thanksgiving weekend.

The West Virginia fans who do show can be expected to be boisterous and unrelenting toward Pitt.

"It's crazy," Pitt defensive end Bryan Knight said. "The fans down there are crazy. It's going to be a really different atmosphere than what we've played in before [this year]. We just have to be focused. We can't let the fans bother us."

That's easier said than done.

"West Virginia fans are loud," Knight said. "Our benches are a little bit closer [to fans], and you can really hear them. I guess that's what you want your home fans to do. I'm not putting their fans or their team down, but they can be annoying."

Fans at Mountaineer Field tend to be inventive, at times, Knight said, and it's tempting to turn around and return the banter.

"Those fans will pick on certain players -- whether it be the way someone is dressed or the last name on the back of his jersey, different things like that. At certain points of the game, it can be funny, especially when we're winning," he said, smiling. "If not, we really have to stay focused."

For comparison's sake

After Pitt's 42-0 win Nov. 10 at Rutgers, Coach Walt Harris acknowledged that he let up offensively in the second half and said he wanted the Panthers to show some class in winning. Pitt didn't score in the second half.

Some reporters in West Virginia took that as a backhanded way of accusing the Mountaineers of running up the score in their 80-7 victory against Rutgers a week earlier. Harris was asked about that during the weekly Big East coaches' teleconference.

"I was just referring to the University of Pittsburgh," he said. "I wasn't referring to anybody other than us, and that's where I'll leave it."

Pressed further about West Virginia pulling starting quarterback Brad Lewis at halftime and passing the ball just four times in the second half against Rutgers, while Pitt used starter David Priestley for five plays in the second half, Harris bristled.

"I thought I said I wasn't going to say anything more about it," he said. And he didn't.

Unwanted break

After winning three games in a row to turn their season around, the Panthers were idle last weekend. Harris has mixed feelings about that.

"It's been good in some ways because we have had a chance to get a little healthier, get a little time away from football. And it's probably not been so good because we didn't play last week.

"We were playing well, and there's no guarantee that we'll continue to play well, even though I anticipate our team being ready to play."

Quick hits

Pitt has a short injury list. Cornerback William "Tutu" Ferguson (ankle) and defensive end Claude Harriott (ankle) are probable. Backup offensive lineman Penny Semaia (ankle) is questionable. ... Two of Pitt's wins have been shutouts -- the Rutgers game and a 31-0 decision against East Tennessee State -- but it's doubtful the Panthers ever will break the school's season record set in 1910. The Panthers won all nine of their games that year by shutout. ... The Panthers have two players from West Virginia -- starting defensive tackle Dan Stephens (Wheeling) and reserve safety Tyrone Gilliard (Princeton). ... Pitt's defensive players were back in their usual jerseys. They had worn different numbers Tuesday just for fun. ... The team will practice earlier than usual today to give everyone more time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

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