Pitt running game feast or famine

Justin K. Aller

We weren't sure what to expect out of Pitt's offense this season, and so far, we've seen the ups and downs. Few could have predicted the struggles that the running game has had, though.

Losing Rushel Shell was going to hurt - most of us knew that. Still, I'm not sure I expected some of the lows we've seen from the running game.

Isaac Bennett and James Conner have both had their fair share of good games. Bennett gained 101 yards against New Mexico, 240 against Old Dominion, and five touchdowns combined in those two games. Conner racked up 119 against New Mexico and 173 against Duke. The pair, though, haven't been able to keep it up.

The 69 combined yards against Florida State was a bit surprising, but given what we're seeing out of the Seminoles, it's a little easier to understand now. But the two had a meager 32 yards against Virginia, 32 against Virginia Tech, and 19 against Georgia Tech.

Ouch.

Most of us realize that a poor offensive line has a lot to do with it. But it's also been frustrating to watch Pitt try to pound the ball up the middle repeatedly only to find no running room against the better defense. Part of it lies in the playcalling and Pitt's coaches have to realize that that isn't always the best approach.

Pitt needs the running game. If yards are hard to come by, how about something a bit more ... innovative? A direct snap to Tyler Boyd. A pitch out to the speedier Rachid Ibrahim. A reverse between the two. Pitt has to find ways to build a ground attack - particularly when the passing game has struggled so much.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and manager/editor of Cardiac Hill @AnsonWhaley

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