Pitt had its moments tonight, but too many turnovers and miscues cost the Panthers the game, losing 30-28.
This game was really marred by mistakes on Pitt's end. I'll never take away credit from a team for winning a game, but Pitt simply did everything it possibly could to giftwrap a win to the Huskies.
Pitt had too many issues to count in this game and you obviously can't pin the loss on one player or unit.
If you had to point the finger tonight, it would go towards the special teams. Let's recap the night by our special teamers, shall we?
- After Pitt took control of the game with an 8-point lead in the third quarter, special teams promptly gave up a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff.
- The kick return team then had a gaffe of its own when Ray Graham fumbled a kickoff late in the fourth quarter.
- Dan Hutchins, who has been one of the nation's best punters, didn't have a good night. He shanked two punts pretty badly - one went for 15 yards and another for 29 - and a third only went for 35 yards.
- Then there was the mysterious non-blocked kick attempt in the first half. Jabaal Sheard had a clear path to the kicker and was there in plenty of time to block a kick, but he instead backed off...presumably to avoid a running into/roughing the kicker penalty.
Pitt may be a decent team, but that's too much to ask any offense/defense to overcome.
And while I'm in the mood to dish out blame, QB Tino Sunseri has to share some. If you read the blog reguarly, you konw that I'm a fan of Tino. I think he's gotten a raw deal from fans this season who practically called for his head from the start...all while playing pretty well. But he didn't play well tonight. He typically avoids mistakes, but had two huge interceptions while Pitt was in Connecticut territory and likely cost the team at least some points.
This was a really odd game in more ways than one. Pitt started off fast with the early touchdown, then seemed to get a bit complacent. They woke up in the third quarter and took the lead, but the kickoff return and kickoff fumble just killed them. I mean, of all the times in the game that can't happen, that was it.
Then there was, of course, the play that sealed Pitt's fate. The converted fourth-and-one deep in UConn's own territory. Pitt clearly didn't think they were going for it there. Heck, I didn't think they were going for it. But the fact is you've got to be more ready than they were.
So where does this leave us? Well, as I said in the Q&A with The UConn blog, winning the Big East was far from a done deal. Pitt had four games left heading into tonight and three were on the road.
Want some good news? Okay. Pitt still controls its own destiny. You can also be slightly encouraged that Pitt had so many mistakes, basically held UConn until they decided to go for it deep in their own territory and went out and won the game. Had Pitt gotten the ball back there, I'm convinced they win. But the fact is that if Pitt couldn't win this game, how can you feel confident enough that they'll win at South Florida, at Cincinnati, and at home against WVU?
For only three games remaining, there's a lot of season left.