Pitt’s loss to Notre Dame at Heinz Field dropped the team to 2-2 on the season. The loss can be summed up best by saying the Panthers fell a few plays short.
The defense, all in all, was pretty good. The Irish came into today’s game averaging more than 27 points per game and Pitt held them to 15. The costly play was obviously the long run by backup running back Jonas Gray who had a second quarter 79-yard score. If you need an idea of just how little regarded he is, note that this is Gray’s first career score – and he’s a senior. The frustrating thing is that the defense had him wrapped up but missed tackles allowed him to break the long run.
The other Irish touchdown came in, you guessed it, the fourth quarter on a series of passing plays. Still, Pitt had plenty of time on the clock for a final drive, but couldn’t get down the field. The defense also forced a couple of turnovers and it’s hard to ask much more from them.
Offensively, the team just didn’t make enough plays. Quarterback Tino Sunseri, again wasn’t all that bad, but was kind of a mixed bag. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions, but he also took five sacks. Some of those were a product of holding the ball too long, but some simply were poor offensive line play. The problem with Tino is that he rarely will make a big play and at some point, Pitt is going to need him to do just that in order to win a close game.
The other thing that really killed Pitt today was a series of penalties, including several false starts. The Panthers had a season-high nine infractions in the game and that really slowed their momentum at various points.
Pitt’s offense really took a step back today and while they didn’t commit any turnovers, 12 points in what is supposed to be a high-scoring offense simply won’t cut it. The Panthers had averaged nearly 33 points through their first three games, but couldn’t get much going today.
The Panthers don’t have much time to improve with a home game on Thursday night, playing South Florida in their first Big East game. Regardless of the prestige of Notre Dame, the game against the Bulls’ is much more important as it’s a conference game against what may be the best team in the league.