Pitt’s 28-21 victory Saturday night (almost Sunday morning) against Notre Dame was the program’s biggest moment since the coaching upheavals of 2010 and 2011. It also marked the Panthers’ second win this season against a team that has won seven games (Duke).
Here are my grades in several important categories:
Offensive line — B
Quarterback Tom Savage was sacked only once — that’s happened only three times all season — and running backs Isaac Bennett and James Conner totaled 92 yards on 27 carries.
Skill — A
Senior wide receiver Devin Street’s 63-yard reception and dive into the pylon in the near corner of the end zone was a testament to his skill and determination. It’s what a leader does. And don’t forget Tyler Boyd’s eight receptions for 85 yards.
Quarterback — B
No interceptions, two touchdowns and 243 yards passing for Savage, who was both a productive passer and an effective caretaker. Savage hasn’t thrown for that many yards since the Duke game two months ago.
Defensive line — B-
Not a lot of pressure on Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees, but the line didn’t prevent the Irish’s deep stable of running backs to control the game such as it did last week against Notre Dame.
Linebacker — B
Again, nothing spectacular, but Anthony Gonzalez’s coverage on Notre Dame’s final fourth-down incomplete pass sealed the victory.
Defensive backs — A
The two interceptions by safety Ray Vinopal are what everyone is talking about, but his partner at the position, Jason Hendricks, shared the team lead with seven tackles.
Kicking game — B
Pitt’s offense did nothing with Lafayette Pitts’ 50-yard kickoff return, but it was the team’s longest of the season. No field goal attempts for Chris Blewitt, but he hit all four extra points.
Notre Dame center Nick Martin got a lot of help from his guards while holding Donald, Pitt’s All-American candidate at defensive tackle, to one tackle and one quarterback hurry.