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Pitt running back James Conner slowed by Akron defense in loss

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

James Conner against the Akron defense looked like a recipe for a monster game. But as things turned out, not only did Pitt lose to the Zips, but Conner was held in check for the entire game.

Conner did break off some nice runs, picking up chunks of yardage on a few attempts. Those, unfortunately, were balanced out quite a bit with numerous carries where he was stuffed for short or no gains.

On the day, the running back finished with 92 yards. That isn't terrible nor were his 3.7 yards per carry. But Conner didn't come close to approaching his season averages. Heading into the game, he was averaging 175 yards per game and 6.4 yards per attempt.

The frustrating thing was that Conner was slowed by what looked like one of the worst run defenses in the country. Akron ranked near the bottom of the FBS in rushing defense heading into the game and gave up nearly 300 yards on the ground in their loss to Marshall last week. By all indications, Conner was set up for a big game on Saturday but fell short of that.

As a reader pointed out recently, the Pitt offense is just too predictable at times. Conner is a heck of a back but when teams know it's coming, it becomes difficult for him to be effective. Over the past two games, the passing attack has been more of a threat. But with Chad Voytik's play a bit up and down, teams aren't all that concerned about giving up big plays through the air - something that is a little surprising with big play threat Tyler Boyd.

Today's game won't take Conner off of the Heisman radar completely, but he was brought back to earth a little.

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