Plenty of blame to go around after this beatdown ... so who do you blame - Dave Wannstedt?
Is it Cam Saddler for his fumble, which clearly cost Pitt a chance at getting back in the game? The offensive line, which was downright offensive? The quarterbacks?
Whoever you blame, I don't think anyone can be surprised that Pitt lost.
When your kicker/punter was possibly the MVP, you know things are bad. At no point in the game did Pitt look better than Miami. They were thoroughly outplayed from the start, and even had Cam Saddler not pulled his best Leon Lett routine and the team was able to score to cut it to seven, Pitt really had no business winning this game. The offense was so stagnant that it was pretty clear from the first quarter that if Pitt were going to win, it was going to need a big play like a pick-six or something along those lines.
It's been a long time since I can remember Pitt be so thoroughly manhandled. But the Utah Fiesta Bowl debacle sounds about right.
Where to start. How about the offense?
Even those of us who know how crucial an offensive line really is got reminder of that tonight. The running game was mediocre and the passing game was, well, far worse. Fans can place the blame on Tino Sunseri if they want ... and they have plenty of reason to do that. He took some bad sacks and was off target on several passes. But he was under near-constant pressure the entire game. And anyone who was dying to see backup Pat Bostick in the game saw that with his two interceptions that the stagnant offense wasn't all Sunseri's fault.
And I don't take the local columnists to task much because they're doing what I'm doing - providing opinions. But Pat Bostick should start? Really? Kevin Gorman is either going to soon be revealed as Pat Bostick's real father on the next episode of Maury or he's extremely delusional. Bostick did nothing to prove that he deserves the starting job and while I didn't mind that Wannstedt put him into the game, how you can determine from that performance that he deserves to be the starter over Sunseri is beyond me. Defenses have been in Pitt's backfield more than Lindsay Lohan's been in trouble, and you can't blame that on Sunseri. To me, the fact that he didn't throw any interceptions tonight was remarkable.
Did he have a good game? Of course not. I'd even call it a bad game. But to pretend like Pat Bostick will suddenly resurrect this offense is foolishness.
One final point about the QBs - this nonsense about Bostick 'leading' Pitt to two quality wins has to stop. Saying he led the team to those wins is akin to saying Trent Dilfer led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl. The team won despite him, not because of him. In the 2008 win against Notre Dame, Bostick threw THREE interceptions and in the 2007 game against West Virginia that his supporters love to mention, he passed for a meager 67 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions. So, enough.
Let's take a look at Dion Lewis. Dave Wannstedt said in his press conference this week that the team was going to 'ride the hot hand' if there was one at running back. Ray Graham wasn't great, but he provided more of a spark than Lewis did. Even if you take out his 42-yard run near the end of the game in garbage time, he still put up better numbers than Lewis. He rushed for 100 yards and also had three catches for 41 yards while Lewis rushed for 41 and had two receptions for seven.
After Lewis couldn't get going for nearly a half, Ray Graham got Pitt two first downs and then scampered for 33 yards on a short pass before Bostick took a sack and Pitt missed a long field goal. Despite the team coming away scoreless, it was clear that Graham provided the spark needed. So did Wannstedt do what he promised? Did he ride the hot hand?
In a short answer, no.
Lewis took over the rushing duties on Pitt's first drive out of halftime. Graham didn't get another carry until near the end of the quarter. But he made the most of his time on the field and again, got Pitt two more first downs. Unfortunately, the next time Pitt got the ball back, they were behind 24-3 and in passing downs. So it was too late to go back to Graham other than for some late carries in garbage time.
I'm not saying Graham is the better back or should even start. But Wannstedt clearly didn't live up to his promise of sticking with the team's best option in the game, which was Ray Graham.
But back to Lewis a bit. He's really struggled this year behind a bad line and at this point, it looks like the NFL could be put on hold for a year unless he can finish strong. Personally, I don't see it. Graham has earned his way to, at the very least, more carries and this could be a two-headed monster the rest of the way. I'm not sure how it played on TV, but you could also see after certain plays on the jumbotron that he was visibly upset, shaking his head and pointing out things to the linemen. He's really having a down year.
Moving to the defense. Well, let's just say it was a debacle. The secondary was, in a word, awful. And while Miami QB Jacory Harris had a couple of interceptions, he basically looked comfortable for most of the game, picking apart Pitt's secondary. And then there's the injury to Mason. Oh boy.
Looking for some good news? Pitt's conference season has yet to start so the team can still put together a BCS team. But the way they looked tonight, West Virginia and maybe even some others in the conference will give them a run for their money.