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Pitt vs. Buffalo: Panthers' offense stagnant in win against Bulls

Pitt came away with a 20-6 win on Saturday, but stylistically, it wasn't all that pretty. In particular, Pitt's offense proved they still could use some improvement.

The Panthers' passing game, which has been mostly solid this season, was virtually non-existent in the first half. In windy and rainy conditions, head coach Paul Chryst opted to utilize his running game. At halftime, quarterback Tino Sunseri had completed only 2-6 passes for a meager 42 yards. The Panthers opened things up a bit more in the second half, but Sunseri still only finished with 17 attempts and 128 passing yards.

And while Pitt relied on the ground game to keep moving the chains, the Panthers didn't find the going much easier there, either. Running backs Ray Graham and Rushel Shell picked up only 109 yards on 32 carries, good for only 3.4 yards.

Pitt managed to score 20 points, but they also did it with a fair amount of help from Buffalo. Pitt's first points of the game came after the Bulls shanked a punt that went a grand total of 13 yards. The Panthers took over on the Buffalo 45-yard line and had to march only 17 yards to get a field goal. Pitt's defense then set up the offense again, helping them to a touchdown. Jason Hendricks intercepted a pass and ran it back to the Bulls' 27-yard line. The Panthers' offense took over and got into the end zone. Half of Pitt's points came as a result of only having to move the ball a combined 44 yards.

None of this is to suggest to that Pitt's offense has been anemic all year long. Both Graham and Shell have had good games running the ball and Tino Sunseri has averaged nearly 300 yards a game entering this past weekend. The Panthers have scored at least 35 points in three of their seven games this season and, at times, have clicked. The problem is the offense has been just as unpredictable in the other four contests scoring no more than 20 in those games.

With only five games to play, Chryst has little time to make the offense a consistent threat.

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