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Special Teams Struggle In Pitt Loss

Pitt was unable to climb above the .500 mark on the season, falling to Notre Dame 23-17.

You can never blame one unit for a loss, but Pitt’s special teams didn’t do the team any favors today. Dan Hutchins couldn’t convert on a short field goal early on, and right before the end of the second half, holder Andrew Janocko botched the hold and another opportunity for points went out the window. On Pitt’s next series after the half, the team was unsuccessful in a fake field goal attempt and with good field position, Notre Dame added a field goal and took a 20-3 lead.

Personally, I didn’t understand the need for a fake field goal attempt at that point in the game. While the Panthers had only put up three points on the board, the team showed it could move the ball down the field. Giving Notre Dame the ball at that point with a short field made little sense and put the team behind even more.

The special teams should share the blame with the offense as Pitt got down to Notre Dame's 10-yard line twice in the first, but couldn't get into the end zone. Pitt went on to convert one of two field goals and the team came away with a meager three points. In a close road game, you've simply got to score touchdowns when you're that deep in enemy territory.

While the running game was given fewer chances than normal (Dion Lewis and Ray Graham combined for 21 carries and a little more than 100 yards) a bright spot in the game was that Pitt had some success passing the ball. Tino Sunseri completed more than 70% of his passes and threw for 272 yards. 111 of those yards went to Jon Baldwin, who again had a big game against Notre Dame with nine receptions and a long touchdown pass on broken coverage in the secondary.

Pitt now enters Big East play and can still accomplish its goal of winning the conference. But the truth is that it has lost all three of its games against challenging opponents and its only two wins have come against FIU and New Hampshire. This is still a team without a convincing win against a quality opponent.

In the end, the team played well, but just couldn’t make enough plays to win. Visit Cardiac Hill for more analysis.

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