Here are some post-game reactions and observations from Pitt’s 38-16 victory over New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon.
*** Defensive end Greg Romeus returned to Florida for personal reasons. He wasn’t likely to play with the back injury, but you have to be concerned that it’s a serious injury that could keep him out for an extended period of time.
As for the Miami game, Wannstedt said, “We’re going to need everyone that’s possible from a health standpoint to get back.”
*** Left guard Chris Jacobson (ankle) departed in the first half with a left ankle sprain. He tried to return but was beaten badly on the play, leading to a sack, and that was it for the Keystone Oaks graduate. Ryan Turnley took his place and, while I don’t have the grades, he seemed to play fairly well.
*** You have to like Pitt’s decision to come out in the second half and throw on nine consecutive plays — maybe not the nine-play part, but at least the aggressive mentality. The seventh pass was intercepted, but the eighth was a touchdown bomb to Jon Baldwin and the ninth pass was a 9-yard gain to Ray Graham that started an 80-yard drive to take a 31-10 lead. The passing mentality also opened some room for a ground game that gained 133 yards in the second half after being held to 36 yards in the first half.
*** Dion Lewis caught five passes for a career-high 52 yards. Pitt is clearly trying to use the screen to get the ball in the hands of their best players. They also threw to Jon Baldwin in the end zone for the first time this season, drawing a pass interference penalty on New Hampshire.
“I’m pretty sure that coach (Frank) Cignetti will keep calling those plays and keep getting a lot of passes in the red zone,” Baldwin said.
*** It was also refreshing that the New Hampshire player who had the best game was a Western Pennsylvania kid. Tight end Chris Jeannot of Moon caught 12 passes for 110 yards.
*** Here are some quotes from Dave Wannstedt and other players.
*** Dave Wannstedt quotes
On his team’s youth
“We have a lot of upside. It’s awfully exciting to be a coach of this football team. We have young players who have so much growth potential. I think you will see as long as we keep working, we should expect to improve week after week after week.”
“Tino made progress today.”
On playing with desire
“The execution is not perfect, we know that. But as long as the effort is perfect, I will accept that.”
On Ray Graham and Dion Lewis
“Ray has a lot of ability and it was great to get him out there and having a one-two punch like him and Dion is pretty special. I think we can play them both. We’re going to need them both. We’re committed to running the football and we are going to need them all.”
Quotes from Jon Baldwin
“Tino did a great job after a tough loss. Everybody was out there making plays.”
On his 56-yard touchdown catch
“I just made a guy miss and got to the end zone.”
On the second-half offense
“We opened up a little bit more. We threw the ball a lot more and gave Tino some confidence. We will just build off that.”
On looking ahead to Miami
“I feel good. We had a couple mistakes. We went in the film room to clean them up and we played a better game this week.”
Quotes from Ray Graham
On rebounding from Utah loss
“We didn’t put our heads down. We took this game as a way to go forward.”
On the holes on his 64-yard touchdown run
“Either one of us could have done that. They key on Dion, so when I get a chance to go out there or an opportunity to play, whatever I can make happen just happens.”
Quotes from Tino Sunseri
On second-half passing
“I think we wanted to come out and open it up a little bit. We came out in the first quarter and the defense loaded the box and it was hard for Dion and Ray to find room. We wanted to make it easier on those guys. It’s hard to run when you have seven guys blocking and there’s eight, nine guys in the box.”
On correcting mistakes
“We did some things today that we might be able to get away with when we play a team like Miami.”