In what was expected to be a comfortable win for Pitt, the Panthers made things look downright ugly with a 62-0 win over Delaware in the team's opener on Saturday.
Just about everyone expected Pitt would win, some, like me, thought they could have some trouble if they weren't careful, but it's safe to say that no one could have predicted something this easy.
The Panthers were never challenged, scoring 21 points in the first quarter. The first team guys stuck around in this one until the fourth quarter (with a few exceptions) but that was more to get them some inexperience just because a lot of those guys are so young.
What also shouldn't be dismissed is the shutout. Delaware hadn't been shut out in nearly two decades and Pitt hasn't pitched a shutout in about ten years. I don't care who the competition is - that's flat out impressive.
This one was really what Paul Chryst is all about, folks. The Panthers dominated the line of scrimmage and rushed for about 400 yards (not a typo). James Conner led the way with 14 carries (or 13, depending on which box score you see) for 145 yards and four touchdowns. Chris James added 78 yards on 14 carries for a couple of touchdowns. All four of Pitt's rushers, the other two being Isaac Bennett and Rachid Ibrahim, averaged over five yards per carry.
On offense, we didn't get to see much out of Chad Voytik, so that remains a big question mark. He missed some of his throws, but still completed 12-15 of his passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Not overly impressive, but he didn't thrown an interception and at this point, still is hard to get a good feel on him.
The big story, obviously, and the one thing that didn't go the Panthers' way, was the injury to star Tyler Boyd. The wide receiver was hurt on a punt return and it's a dislocated finger. I'm no doctor, but it's not likely a long-term thing. He came out of the game fairly early because of it and didn't return, so Pitt is fortunate that they didn't need him.
It underscores precisely what I wrote earlier, however - using Boyd as a returner adds an element of risk that Pitt may not be able to afford. Given the follies of Kevin Weatherspoon back there today in bobbling two punts, Paul Chryst may not see a way to keep Boyd on the bench during special teams. But if he's out there, those types of things can easily happen.
In a nutshell, Pitt has to really decide if they want to keep trotting out their All-American candidate on special teams. I'm not saying they shouldn't ... only that it's a big decision.
Outside of Boyd's setback, this game couldn't have gone any better for Pitt. Expectations surely have to be tempered since Delaware was atrocious on both sides of the ball and there were some fumbling issues. However, as a whole, it was a breath of fresh air because Pitt has struggled with inferior teams in the past.
Today, we got a solid glimpse of what Chryst has been building for the future - and while the competition wasn't great, the Panthers looked better than expected.
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