Football: Compass bowl news and notes

By Alex Oltmanns

— The team flew to Birmingham yesterday to prepare for its game Saturday at noon [Eastern … — The team flew to Birmingham yesterday to prepare for its game Saturday at noon [Eastern  Standard Time] against Kentucky.

— Former defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will be the interim head coach for the game in former head coach Dave Wannstedt’s absence. Wannstedt chose not to coach the game in order to avoid being a distraction to the players.

“Ultimately, the focus and attention for the next few days should be on the players who are here,” Wannstedt said in a press conference Monday. “The focus and attention should not be on their coach who will not be coaching.”

Bennett commented in a separate press conference on Monday. “I need to give the proper direction and guide this ship in the right manner to game day,” Bennett said. “Manage the game well and find a way to win this game and then hand it off to whoever they end up hiring.”

— Defensive end Jabaal Sheard is out for the game after undergoing elbow surgery.

— Defensive tackle Myles Caragein is doubtful for the game with a sprained knee.

— With former offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti gone to serve as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers, tight ends coach Brian Angelichio will call the plays against Kentucky. Cignetti leaves Pitt after serving as the offensive coordinator for two years.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to join Coach [Greg] Schiano’s staff at Rutgers,” Cignetti said in a news release. “I am anxious to get to New Jersey and start working with the student athletes, coaches and support staff.”

— Former secondary coach Jeff Hafley has also recently departed for Rutgers. Graduate assistant and former Pitt safety Eric Thatcher has been coaching the defensive backs in preparation for the bowl game.