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Pitt's Penalties Adding Up

Pitt entered Saturday's game against Florida International as one of the most penalized teams in the country. During the game, they did nothing to suggest that the problems are being fixed.

The Panthers had ended up with ten penalties for 64 yards. The Panthers are now ranked next to last, 119th out of 120 Divsion I-A / FBS teams, averaging 9.5 penalties per game.

Several of those penalties on Saturday were really key plays and hurt the team significantly.

In the first quarter, with FIU backed up on its own 2-yard line a great punt by Dan Hutchins, Pitt forced a fumble in the end zone for an apparent touchdown. Unfortunately, the Panthers were offside and missed out on six points. FIU was able to safely punt the ball away.

On Pitt's next possession, the team had a first and goal from FIU's 9-yard line. The team received a false start penalty and was forced into two passing downs. Both passes were incomplete and instead of possibly scoring a touchdown, Pitt settled for a field goal.

In the second quarter, FIU was deep into Pitt territory, but had a crucial 3rd and 6. Pitt jumped offside, giving FIU a 3rd and 1, which they converted. Four plays later, FIU got into the end zone to take the lead.

And with Pitt trying to take control in the fourth quarter, after scoring a touchdown to go up 23-10, Tino Sunseri received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and forced Pitt back on the kickoff. On that kickoff, FIU got a 29-yard return and with the fifteen yards for the penalty, ended up starting their drive just past midfield. Four plays later on the short field, FIU went in for a touchdown.

The penalties on Saturday obviously didn't hurt Pitt's chances enough to cost them the game. But the team is constantly offsides on defense and committing false start penalties on offense. It's easy to understand teams committing those penalties in hostile road environments, but at home? That's a discipline issue.

Pitt needs to get these issues corrected if it has any hopes of winning the conference.