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Pitt Football: A 2011 Season Review; Panthers Plagued By Late, Close Losses

Ray Graham's injury didn't do Pitt any favors this year (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Ray Graham's injury didn't do Pitt any favors this year (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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I've been wanting to get to this, but in a feature over at SB Nation Pittsburgh, I took a look at Pitt's football season.

Obviously, the key theme is losing close games ... late. The encouraging thing, as I mentioned, is that Pitt was really in every game other than the beatdown to Rutgers. Four losses by a total of 11 points is hard to overlook and you can make the argument that if Pitt simply holds on to late leads, they could have gotten to nine or ten wins. Only problem is that lots of teams can make the claim that had a few things gone their way, they could have had similar season.

The season ended with me still not really knowing just how good Pitt is. How good they are next year will depend on a few things - Ray Graham coming back, Tino Sunseri improving, and the defensive line absorbing the losses of Brandon Lindsey and Myles Caragein. But for now, head over to SB Nation Pittsburgh for the article on this year's squad. Below is a snippet:

Let's face it - 2011 was full of disappointment. The problem I have with where the program stands now isn't that Todd Graham didn't have the season many of us thought he would, but it's that Pitt has taken, at least temporarily, a step back as a program. That step back may be necessary to progress further than the point the program reached under Dave Wannstedt, but if we're assessing this season on its own, it was a colossal disappointment.

The theme of the season was that Pitt was plagued by close losses and late collapses. The Iowa game was one of the most disappointing I've witnessed in more than 15 years of watching Pitt. A 17-point lead in the fourth quarter generally equals victory, but the Panthers proved that that's no sure thing. The team was then snakebit by a three-point loss to Notre Dame, again giving up a fourth-quarter lead.

After Pitt crushed the ranked Bulls 44-17 and Ray Graham had a coming out party so dynamic (226 rushing yards and two touchdowns) that even Lebron James took to tweeting about it. Just like that, there were thoughts that Todd Graham was on the right track. Thoughts that maybe this offense could work.

Click here to finish reading the article.