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Final thoughts from Syracuse

Quick blog post before boarding a plane in Syracuse for a trip to Philadelphia and, finally, home:
It was pointed to me this morning that, for all the positive vibes from Pitt’s 17-16 victory at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, the Panthers are still in next-to-last place in the Coastal Division of the ACC.
Plus, a loss to Miami will  mean Pitt finishes the regular season 6-6 for the third consecutive season.
Is that progress?
I can’t say that it is until I see how performs in its bowl game — the last two were disasters in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. — and what the spring holds.
(Just as an aside, I think the quarterback situation will be interesting with coach Paul Chryst choosing from among Chad Voytik, who will entering his sophomore season, and two incoming freshmen — Wade Freebeck and Adam Bertke — who will not arrive on campus until after they graduate from high school in June.)
The bottom line is Chryst has the program pointed in the right direction, building an attitude among his players of accountability and responsibility. You had to like the way that cornerback Lafayette Pitts reacted to getting benched in the first quarter of the North Carolina game. He said he wasn’t working hard enough and needed to get better, and it was Pitts who knocked away Syracuse’s final fourth-down pass that ensured the victory.
It starts with Chryst, a humble man who refused to take credit for calling the timeout that prevented Syracuse from scoring a decisive touchdown on a fake field-goal attempt. There are a lot of college and NFL coaches who would step forward and say, “Hey, look at me.”
Bill Cowher in Super Bowl XXX comes to mind when he walked up to the line judge and asked him how he liked the successful onside kick call.
Chryst also knows a thing or two about offense. Having quarterback Tom Savage go to the short drops and quick releases wasn’t a genius move — many coaches would have done the same thing – but it worked.
That’s what matters.

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