Pitt had more than a couple of players that were deserving of Panther of the Game in yesterday’s shootout victory over Syracuse. James Conner hit for over 100 yards rushing and did damage in the receiving game too. Quadree Henderson also rushed for over 100 yards and had several great kick returns on special teams. The offense was clicking and of all their damage done yesterday, many were through quick strike drives. I think for the Panther of the Game though, we have to put a plural on it and call it the Panthers of the Game. That’s because the Pitt offensive line put on a clinic in their 76-61 win.
We’ll name them right now starting left to right with Adam Bisnowaty, Dorian Johnson, Alex Officer, Alex Bookser, and Brian O’Neill. That group paved the way for Pitt to rush for a grand total of 393 yards rushing, where backs found holes all over the place. The rushing game provided the Panthers with 9.8 yards per rush...THAT’S ALMOST A FIRST DOWN ON EVERY RUSH! They also continued to keep quarterback Nate Peterman clean throughout games, as Syracuse failed to record a sack.
There was also two interesting plays that illustrate just how much this line can do. We’ve seen O’Neill catch a pass for a touchdown, rush for a touchdown, and yesterday, they tried to let him throw for a play. The play did not work as no one was open downfield, so O’Neill pretty much just threw it away.
The other play was freshman Maurice Ffrench’s 77 yard jet sweep touchdown. Ffrench may or may not have been touched, most of the way, and leading the way...IN FRONT OF THE WIDE RECEIVERS BLOCKING....was Brian O’Neill. After the game, he refused to tell the Pitt radio team his 40-yard dash time, but when he goes to the combine, I believe we’ll all be looking to see just how fast the big man is for an offensive tackle.
We all knew one of Pitt’s strengths this year was the offensive line and they have lived up to the expectations and are a big reason the Panthers finished 8-4 with a pretty brutal schedule. It’s been fun to see them play, as a unit, all year.