Despite the lopsided loss to Georgia Tech yesterday, I do still have to pick a player of the game. I have done the impossible and sifted through my memory of this nightmare and the box score to still pick myself up off the ground and select one. Tyler Boyd's 137 yards receiving were tough to pass up, as he was his usual self, but I had to go with sophomore James Conner.
Despite a scary moment for Conner with a knee injury and the blowout keeping him on the sidelines for long stretches, the Erie native still managed 120 yards and three touchdowns on only ten carries. On 30% of his touches, he scored a touchdown.
Conner could have had four touchdowns had it not been for the fumble into the back of the end zone. Many may say that Conner's fumble should take him out of contention for this award this week, but if I used that to disqualify players, we would have no one left to pick from yesterday's game. I also wanted to give Conner a special nod since he bounced back from what looked to be a very bad injury.
Conner's day did not get off to the best start with the fumble into the end zone and that was a huge chunk of his 120 yards on that 74 yard dash. However, even taking that play out of his stats, the running back still accounted for more than five yards per carry. With the bounce back from injury and regrouping from the fumble, Conner stayed with it and kept Pitt in the game. Per usual he also saw a fair amount of yards after contact as well yesterday.
Let's not mince words on the loss...it was ugly. It was not fun. Watching James Conner should make any Pitt fan smile at the end of the day though and seeing him bull his way into the end zone three times during the Panthers loss, was something that I think will continue through the year and why he's our Panther of the Game.