Three Pitt wins in three days - not bad. Pitt's football team brought home a much-needed road win against South Florida on Saturday. The win makes Pitt bowl-eligible, but that's clearly not the only goal.
Pitt certainly didn't play as well it could, and that's frustrating. But when it comes down to it, a win is a win is a win.
Both offenses struggled today and Pitt QB Tino Sunseri certainly didn't have his best day. He held on to the ball far too long in certain circumstances and wasn't able to connect on big plays. He was only 11-16 for 142 yards, but didn't have any costly interceptions or fumbles. Still, he took four sacks and most if not all weren't really the fault of the offensive line. He simply didn't throw the ball away in time. For all of the hits he took, I was surprised none resulted in a fumble.
That said, he was pretty good in the second half. He was completed nearly every pass (8-9), led Pitt to two touchdowns, and had a couple of long runs for first downs. He was better as the game went along, which seems to be a trend with him. Was Sunseri perfect today? Of course not. But he held his own in the second half and was a big part of why they won the game.
The offense didn't play all that great, but the real story of the game was of course the penalties. Want to know how to allow an inferior team to stay in the game? Today's contest was a perfect example. South Florida was even worse than Pitt was and stupid penalties by the Panthers really kept them in the game:
- In the first quarter, Pitt had South Florida pinned back deep, forcing them to punt. They stood to receive the ball in good field position, but Max Gruder ran into the kicker, giving USF the ball back. The Bulls went down the field and while the missed a field goal, gave Pitt far worse field position than they could have had.
- On South Florida's lone touchdown drive, Pitt had two pass interference penalties, including one on a third and long that would have ended the drive.
- In the fourth quarter, Pitt had another pass interference play on a 3rd and long that kept USF's drive alive.
- And on the Bulls' final drive, Pitt had yet another interference penalty on 3rd and 14 that allowed USF to stay in it.
Still, those gaffes weren't enough to allow USF to win.
And talk about clock management - wow. South Florida looked awful at the end of each half. In the first half, with the ball around midfield (due to a 4th down that Pitt couldn't convert) and about 1:30 left, they literally looked as if they wanted to go into halftime without trying to get down the field. They took far too much time on each play allowing valuable time to tick off the clock. Not only did USF get nowhere near the end zone, they didn't even get into field goal range, moving the ball only ten yards.
The end of the game was far worse for them, failing to get out of bounds on plays and using far too much time to set up plays. There appeared to be some miscommunication between QB B.J. Daniels and head coach Skip Holtz. Should be plenty of criticism down in Tampa this week.