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All is not lost when your team plays in the Big East

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What happened?

I got a better question:
What happens next?
Yes, the Pitt football situation looks bad after the 34-10 loss to Rutgers, and there doesn’t seem to be any answers on the current roster. But a series of games against Utah, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Louisville (combined record 10-11, but I don’t think they are that good) will help. This is the Big East, you know.

With the first three at home, Pitt could win all four and take a 7-3 record into West Virginia, and maybe have eight victories by the time the bowl invitations are issued. 

Unrealistic? Probably. But Pitt showed it can function as an offense in the victory against South Florida, and it may not see a stronger defense than Rutgers had until the West Virginia game.

Remember, Ray Graham, the best player in the Big East, plays for Pitt, and the offensive line — as poor as it has been in pass protection — somehow finds a way to open creases in the run game.

None of this is to suggest that Pitt is void of real problems.

The wide receivers need to get open more often (no one seems to mention that), quarterback Tino Sunseri has to become more consistently accurate and the defense needs to feel ashamed (yeah, that’s right) that it has picked off only three passes in six games.

Coach Todd Graham and his staff also are not blameless. Graham is a good man — the right man for a big rebuilding job at Pitt — but inserting freshman Trey Anderson into the game Saturday when Pitt trailed only, 6-3, at the start of the third period was a bad idea. Deep in his own territory in a hostile stadium, Anderson threw an interception that changed the momentum of the game and led to a four-touchdown second half for a poor Rutgers offense.

Hey, Tino could have thrown the same interception — he had two prior and one later — but Pitt is better off with him as its quarterback. Graham overestimated Anderson’s ability to move the offense, and it cost him.

Use Anderson in the fourth quarter of the next blowout, but not with the game and a shot at the conference championship on the line.

Graham is trying to employ his systems with players he didn’t recruit, and in some cases wouldn’t  have tried to recruit if he had the chance. It will take a couple of good recruiting classes for him to fully implement what he wants to accomplish at Pitt.

It’s going to take time. And patience. I’m guessing Graham has enough of both.

WHAT ABOUT NIX?

Graham would be smart not to rush senior guard Lucas Nix back into the starting lineup while he recovers from a knee injury. Nix’s injury needs time to heal and that’s what the schedule is offering. Pitt plays a non-conference game against Utah on Saturday and then is off until Oct. 26.

Also, Nix’s replacement Ryan Schlieper and his young linemates need playing time together to gain cohesion and become better pass blockers. Allowing that to happen is more important to the overall Pitt program than trying to rush Nix back into the lineup before he’s ready.

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Comments

  1. vizzilli says:

    Good point. This is the advantage of being in the Big East. When Pitt joins ACC, with a Graham coaching without a Graham running back, it may be a long while until they get offered to play in a bowl.

  2. Okay, so the Big East in Football is not good, but does that really explain why Pitt clobbers South Florida at Heinz Field, and then in turn gets clobbered on the road by Rutgers?

  3. Ray says:

    While Tino is no Bill Stull, what has become a bigger concern in recent weeks is the number of drops and poorly run routes by the receiving corpse. Penalties are also a killer. If Tino is good for a few good throws a game, the Panthers can’t have them negated by procedure penalties or back to back offensive pass interference penalties by a guy who wasn’t even the intended target. Penalties were a big a factor as any other deficiencies in the losses to Notre Dame and Rutgers. (Not blaming the refs, blaming poor technique).
    I’m enjoying this brand of football. I’m glad Coach Grahman is sticking to his guns and I hope the siutation turns into a long happy marriage for both parties. Until then, and especially this year, go to see the sensational Ray Graham,, who makes lots of neat moves as he generates yardage behind a substandard offensive line.

 
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