From the opening whistle, Pitt was never able to make this one a game. They fell behind early and never led in being routed by SMU, 28-6.
Anything that could have gone wrong for the Panthers did. Pitt was beaten on both sides of the ball and seemed unable to catch any sort of a break all day. There was the recovered fumble that was called back due to an inadvertent whistle, red zone blunders, and a fake punt conversion that was also called back to due to a false start.
If there was one thing that hindered Pitt today, it was probably the play of the offensive line. In the running game, they couldn’t open up any holes at all for freshmen Isaac Bennett and Corey Davis. The two combined for only 43 yards on the ground. The line also did a poor job of blocking on passing plays as Tino Sunseri was repeatedly sacked. Mark Myers also was sacked late in the game after replacing Sunseri and all told, SMU had a big day. Coming into the game, the Mustangs averaged less than three sacks per game, but against Pitt, they had seven. New head coach Paul Chryst’s first order of business may be to bring some of his experience to Pitt’s offensive line and get them to play a bit better. That will be hard, though, with the loss of Lucas Nix and possibly Chris Jacobson if he doesn’t get a medical redshirt for another year of eligibility after he was lost for the season early on.
On defense, Pitt couldn’t force SMU into many mistakes. For only the second time all season, the Mustangs avoided throwing any interceptions and quarterback J.J. McDermott was on his game. He didn’t have incredible numbers (16-25 for 240 yards), but the fact that he didn’t turn the ball over really gave SMU an edge.
In a nutshell, this was a disappointing end to a disappointing season – here’s hoping 2012 is a better year for the Panthers.
For more on the game and Pitt football, check out SB Nation’s Pitt blog, Cardiac Hill.