Pluses and minuses: New Mexico

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

A look at the good and bad from Saturday's game.

The Panthers routed the Lobos at Heinz Field on Saturday. The offense looked explosive at times and the defense calmly handled business while forcing three-and-outs and creating a turnover. Let's take a look at some of the positives and very few negatives.

Pluses:

  • Tyler Boyd: This is the obvious choice and everything that can be written about Boyd already has been, but I cannot overstate just how dangerous he can be on the field. Pitt needs to continue getting him the ball. At some point defenses are going to turn their whole attention to Boyd, leaving Street and others to benefit.
  • Aaron Donald: I thought Donald deserved preseason All-ACC recognition, and while it was only New Mexico, he's making me look quite smart. Donald is small, but his technique is incredible. Donald should continue to be a force against most ACC lines.
  • Todd Thomas: The athletic linebacker finally played a complete game and is firmly out of Paul Chryst's doghouse. After getting the start, Thomas made plays all over the field and is head and shoulders above the other linebackers. Behind Donald, Thomas is probably Pitt's most skilled defender.
  • James Conner: This is somewhat surprising, but James Conner looks to be the feature back of the future. Conner ran well against the Lobos, showing the ability to break arm tackles and even showed nice speed. He seems to hit the whole harder than Isaac Bennett and that may have the coaches thinking.
  • Freshmen: I've talked about Boyd and Conner, but I'm extremely impressed with the freshmen. Guys like Terrish Webb and Chris Blewitt are playing great for being only 18 years old. I'm sure they'll have some moments where they remember how old they are, but the whole group is extremely impressive. The "Paul Chryst can't recruit" peanut gallery is awfully quiet right now.
Minuses:
  • Tom Savage: This is tough for me because Savage has a great arm and is making throws we haven't seen a Pitt QB make in a really long time. However, he needs to limit the turnovers and tunnel vision. Hopefully, some of that is still rust.
  • Dorian Johnson: Chryst burned the offensive lineman's redshirt this week to use him in a jumbo package at the goal line. I didn't see him used much elsewhere. If Pitt is going to burn the redshirt, I hope they have serious plans for him and that he wasn't used only as a gimmick.
  • Playing with the lead: I'm really nitpicking here, but Pitt let New Mexico get some momentum and hope in the second half. The Panthers need to finish off weaker opponents and not let them hang around. I told you I'm nitpicking.
So, that's all for this week. Pitt did what it needed to do and now has a tough stretch of games against ACC foes. Hopefully we'll be recapping a win against Duke next week.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics.

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