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Dion Lewis Still A Starter; Dave Wannstedt Struggles With Clock Management

Hard to argue too much with Pitt’s 44-17 win. The game was close heading into the fourth quarter, but as has been the case all season long, FIU was worn down by the end of the game. FIU entered this game being outscored 41-7 in the fourth quarter of games and today was outscored by Pitt 28-7.

The story of the day was clearly Ray Graham’s huge game. His 277 yards was the second-highest total in Pitt history behind Tony Dorsett’s 303-yard game against Notre Dame in the 1970s. Despite that, Dave Wannstedt still has declared Dion Lewis as the starter:

“Yes, he is,” Wannstedt said, when asked if Lewis is still the starter, following Graham’s performance. “The way we want to run the ball, I’ve gone through four tailbacks. We were so fortunate that Dion stayed healthy last year with the number of carries he had. We’re going to need them both. Ray Graham had as good an effort as I’ve seen by an individual. That was great for him.”

Graham took the news well and, to his credit, didn’t make a fuss over it. But it’s pretty clear that he’s jumpstarted a stagnant offense when he’s been in the games and, in my opinion, has truly earned the starting spot. Fans shouldn’t be too disappointed with his not starting, however. He’ll still earn plenty of carries and could still see the bulk of workload – especially if Lewis continues to struggle.

Pitt also got what it needed to from quarterback Tino Sunseri. After struggling early on, he got on track and ended up with a pretty decent game and again avoided costly turnovers. Some fans may not think he’s doing enough, but he played mistake-free football today and even made a couple of nice throws. He got better as the game went along and is Pitt’s clear-cut starter heading into the road game against Notre Dame next week.

One puzzling thing was Wannstedt again poorly mismanaging the clock towards the end of the first half. He’s had this problem before and this game proved he still needs to work at it. When FIU had the ball with about a minute and a half left, Wannstedt (despite having two timeouts) allowed them to run down the clock before kicking a field goal. Pitt ended up getting the ball back with a minute left and while they got a field goal out of it, the team could have perhaps gotten a touchdown if they simply had more time on the clock. Wannstedt really needs to get better at this and there’s simply no excuse for not being able to handle the end of the first half.

Pitt also struggled with penalties again as the team had 10 more on Saturday. They are one of the most penalized teams in the country, and several of the ones this week really cost Pitt. The biggest of which was an offsides call that took away a forced fumble for a touchdown when FIU was deep in its own territory.

Still, the team put forth a good effort on Saturday and will get ready to travel to Notre Dame next weekend.

Check out Cardiac Hill for more on Saturday’s game.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.