Sense a theme here?
Last week, Pitt ran its way to over 400 yards on the ground in a season-opening win over Delaware. This week? It was more of the same as the Panthers steamrolled their way 303 yards in winning easily at Boston College, 30-20.
The final score was a little bit deceptive, I thought. Pitt seemed like they were clearly the better team outside of a few plays and deserved to win by maybe a couple of touchdowns.
Predictably, James Conner led the way with 214 yards on 36 carries. Tyler Boyd played hero as well with two touchdowns, but make no mistake - this win was about the running game. We expected a much bigger challenge in the running game than we saw at Delaware, but that wasn't really the case. The theme of this post is that it's early, but for now, it's hard not to recognize the offensive line as playing really well. Some of the holes that Conner ran through were so big that anyone could have gotten through them.
Part of the reason for that? Quarterback Chad Voytik just looked like he needed some work. Even if you didn't see the game, that's evident by the final box score. Voytik was a modest 10-20 for 111 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The interception was particularly bad as he stared down Boyd for the length of his route before tossing a bad ball, but some of his misses were similarly awful.
Here's the thing - Voytik is a highly-regarded recruit, but he's still going to need time to figure it out. He showed some glimpses of being really good, but he's far from polished. So much of the hype around him was based on Pitt's big bowl win last year against Bowling Green - and rightly so, since he played well. But the bottom line is that he's still a redshirt sophomore with only two full games under his belt. I think he'll be fine over the long run, but you can expect to see more games like tonight the rest of the year.
I'm going to be fair to him and Pitt hasn't been airing the ball out a ton. But to be enthusiastic about Voytik's play when he hasn't even thrown for 200 total yards over two games is a bit ridiculous. He'll be fine, but he's not playing all that well so far. And guess what - that's okay. He deserves time to figure it all out. The other thing to realize is that the level of competition is going to pick up, too. You just have to hope that he gets it more together by the time the difficult games roll around.
It's also worth pointing out that the defense was more than solid. The Eagles' three running backs had 16 carries for only 39 yards. Considering the running game was what Boston College was hanging their hat on (as Pitt was), that wasn't going to cut it. The Pitt defense did give up a few big plays and, truthfully, Boston College's quarterback, Tyler Murphy, was a special kind of bad and missed a miserable amount of throws. But as a whole, considering they faced a mobile quarterback who could have given them more trouble, the unit did some good things.
Special kudos to safety Terrish Webb, too. It's early in his career but he looks like the real deal. Webb had an interception last week, sniffed out a deceptive running play for a loss tonight, and then grabbed an interception late. Looks like a great young player that we don't talk a lot about.
One thing to keep an eye on is starting center Artie Rowell, who went down with a leg injury. He had to be helped off the field and came back later sporting crutches. Backup Gabe Roberts did fine, but Rowell is a very good center that probably doesn't get as much credit as he deserves. In addition, if he's out for any period of time, we're also just another injury away from the third-string guy. That could just spell trouble.
Look, as I said in the gamethread and on Twitter earlier, this isn't Florida State. That said, it's not Delaware, either. A win in a night road game, sparse as the crowd may be, is a big victory. That's particularly true for a young team with a lot of their guys still getting their feet wet.
Overall, Pitt has some things they need to work on and I'm sure Paul Chryst will say that same thing later. But you've just really got no choice but to be happy with this outcome.
2-0 and 1-0 in the conference? I'll take it.
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