Well the first one is in the books and while it wasn't a spectacular performance by the Panthers -- and I'd argue it was a bit disappointing, but that's for tomorrow's post-game analysis and of course, Monday's "Good, Bad and Ugly" wrap up of the Youngstown State game -- it is much better to begin a season 1-0 than 0-1.
But here are some additional notes from the game....
* Freshman Dion Lewis became the first Pitt freshman since a guy named Tony Dorsett to rush for more than 100 yards in an opening game. Lewis rushed 20 times for 129 yards and that is actually a record for opening games as Dorsett rushed for only 100 yards in his debut. Of course, there is one asterisk which needs to be placed by this "record" when trying to decide which day -- Dorsett's or Lewis's -- was better and that is this little fact: Dorsett's debut was against an SEC-power by the name of Georgia, Lewis did it against a mid-level Division I-AA team. That's not to take anything away from Lewis but it does add some perspective and should mute the "he's off to a better start than Dorsett" stuff. Lewis ran well, though, and he showed he is not only tough, he is fast and he is capable of making guys miss. His career will be fun to watch.
* Lewis was also one of four players who made their first career start. The other three were linebacker Max Gruder, safety Andrew Taglianetti and offensive tackle Lucas Nix.Of the three, I'd say Lewis was the only one who stood out. Nix actually was better than he had been at camp, though that probably has something to do with the competition, or lack thereof, he faced. It was a good start for him but he needs to improve -- particularly in pass protection - each week if Pitt's offense is going to get better. Gruder had six tackled but only two were solo and while I can't remember him doing much, it is a good sign that he also didn't make any glaring mistakes. Like Nix, he will improve each week. Taglianetti's three most memorable plays were all missed tackles, not because he wasn't in position to make them but because he bounced off the ball carrier all three times. Twice were on third down plays and the third was on a punt return. He's clearly a physical player but at his size, he is going to need to do a better job of wrapping up because he isn't going to bull people over any time soon.
* Adam Gunn came into the game with only 1 1/2 career sacks and he had two in this game, so it was a great start for him. He also led the team with eight tackles and his two sacks were also a team-high. That is the kind of production the Panthers have come to expect from middle linebackers, whether it was Scott McKillop, H.B. Blades -- who by the way made an appearance in the press box and was in great spirits -- or Gerald Hayes, so Gunn has some very big shoes to fill.
* Tino Sunseri also made his debut and, like Bill Stull, was solid but not spectacular. He completed 5 of 8 passes and threw his first career touchdown pass to Aundre Wright -- who made his first career touchdown reception. One thing to watch with Tino -- he is short and as we saw today, he has some trouble throwing the ball over the top of linemen. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to this over the next few years.
One head-scratching moment came when Sunseri played one series, then Stull re-entered the game for one series, then Sunseri finished the game. Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said that the sequence was a "miscommunication" and added "once we put Tino in he was supposed to stay in. I was tied up doing something else and [the offensive staff] thought it was just for one series but Tino was supposed to play the rest of the second half."
* The Panthers got out of the game healthy as the only injury was to special teams player, Dan Cafaro, who went down with some sort of a lef injury. It was also good to see tight end Nate Byham (concussions) running around a little bit in the game but it was clear that they were very cautious with him and limited his snaps as well as how much he was involved in the offense and blocking. Jabaal Sheard (knee) also played and played well so he apparently is healthy.
* The secondary got two picks - one by Ricky Gary and one by Dom DeCicco -- but I think as a whole earns a "C" at best. There were receivers open on a lot of plays, YSU just couldn't protect for very long and when they did, missed some throws which should have yielded big plays. This is something we'll have to monitor over the next few weeks.
I'll have more over the next few days then begin to look ahead to the Buffalo game next week. In the meantime, enjoy your Labor Day weekend and stay safe!