After several weeks of turmoil, Pitt shook everything off for a comfortable 27-10 win over Kentucky in the BBVA Compass bowl game on Saturday. The Panthers did exactly what they needed to – keep the ball on the ground, limit Kentucky’s time of possession, and maybe most importantly, stop Randall Cobb from going off.
The game may not have meant much to a lot of fans, but it meant a lot to the players as evidenced by the repeated scraps and pushing/shoving matches between the two teams.
Pitt had 262 yards on the ground, with Dion Lewis and Ray Graham combining for nearly 200 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Tino Sunseri also added several nice scrambles. The run game helped control the clock and Pitt won the time of possession battle.
The Kentucky offense was expected to be a little less threatening, and well, they were. Morgan Newton did a decent job filling in for Mike Hartline throwing for more than 200 yards, but wasn’t spectacular. The loss of Hartline probably helped the neutralization of Kentucky’s NFL talent, Randall Cobb. Cobb had some nice plays in the game and it’s clear he can play in the next level. But on Saturday, he was held in check for the most part, totaling only 85 receiving and rushing yards. He averaged nearly 115 on the season.
The Panther defense really came through on Saturday. Not only was the team dealing with all of the coaching issues in the past month, but it was missing several star players in Jabaal Sheard, Myles Caragein, and obviously Greg Romeus, who’s missed most of the year.
QB Tino Sunseri didn’t have a great game, throwing for less than 100 yards and had one touchdown and one interception. But as I mentioned earlier, he had some key runs and didn’t kill the team.
The Panthers will now enter an offseason that will include a rebuilding of sorts. The team will be getting a new coach and losing several key players – many of which will probably end up in the NFL. Gone will be senior defensive ends Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard and safety Jabaal Sheard. Jon Baldwin, Dion Lewis, and Henry Hynoski (yes, that Henry Hynoski) could all be leaving to test the NFL Draft. The team has several key players coming back that will help lessen the blow, but next year’s team will look much different.
Check out SB Nation Pitt blog Cardiac Hill for more post-game analysis.