Pitt's up-and-down season proves coaching has room for improvement

Jared Wickerham

The Panthers' coaches need to get the team to be more consistent.

Pitt's season has been about as up-and-down as any in recent memory. A cursory glance at the Panthers' schedule shows a steady stream of two-loss trends. They started 0-2, including a surprising loss to FCS team Youngstown State. They rebounded, winning games against Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb, appearing to right the ship. That didn't last long as Pitt followed that up with losses to Big East foes Louisville and Syracuse. But with Buffalo and Temple up next, Pitt picked up a couple of more easy wins to get back to .500. Unfortunately, the trend has continued with losses against Notre Dame and UConn the past two weekends.

Now at 4-6, the season has been anything but predictable. But there is one thing that's clear -- the coaching staff has plenty of room for improvement.

If there's anything that the two-game streaks show, it's that Paul Chryst and company haven't been able to get enough consistency out of their players. The two-game swings also aren't strictly related to the level of competition, either. In particular, the Panthers have let plenty of inferior teams defeat them along the way. At 6-4, Youngstown State has proven to be a very mediocre FCS team this year. And 5-5 Syracuse and 4-6 UConn are both teams that Pitt should be capable of beating.

The staff has done some good things, though. The Panthers went into Notre Dame and gave an undefeated top-five team all it could handle for four quarters. And had it not been for a phantom interference call or a missed field goal in overtime, Pitt could have won. In addition, the offense has been potent at times this season. The Panthers have scored at least 35 points four times and combined for over 100 in wins against Temple and Gardner-Webb. Also, Pitt's 26 total points and 20 points in regulation are both the most given up by the Irish's defense, which ranks No. 1 in the nation in points allowed

None of that, however, means that Pitt hasn't underachieved. At the very least, there's no excuse for the team not having a 6-4 record. With so much inconsistency, it's clear that there needs to be better coaching.

Chryst has done some good things this season, but when you add everything up in terms of wins and losses, the team should have a bit more to show for its efforts. And while much of that is on the players themselves, there's little doubt that the coaches could do more to motivate the team on a consistent basis.

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