Just filed my story for tomorrow's paper, but here are a few thoughts I'll leave you with before I pack it up for the night.
- Pitt certainly had its chances. The most common phrases during post-game interviews were "shot ourselves in the foot," "beat ourselves" and "couldn't take advantage." Twice in the fourth quarter, the Panthers had the ball inside the Syracuse 30-yard line. Twice, they came away with nothing. The intentional grounding was a killer, and I thought it was strange that Tino Sunseri didn't even try to avoid the rush before throwing it away. On the next play there was simply no one there to pick up a corner blitz. Center Ryan Turnley said that was a blitz he had seen from Syracuse before, but wasn't one they used often. He took the responsibility, as the center, for not directing anyone over there, but really, that falls on the entire offense. Someone needed to recognize that blitz and shift protection to at least get a chip on the corner and let Sunseri avoid the sack.
- Syracuse forced Pitt to be entirely one-dimensional on offense. Here are the total yards for Pitt's offense today: rushing- 27, passing- 319, for a total of 346. That's 92 percent passing, eight percent rushing. It doesn't get much more one-dimensional than that. Granted, those stats are somewhat skewed because Sunseri accounted for -33 rushing yards thanks to getting sacked five times. Still, Ray Graham ran for just 64 yards on 24 carries, an average of 24 yards per carry. It would have been interesting to see if a full-strength Rushel Shell could have impacted this game. Shell was limited due to injury, and carried just one time for two yards. Along with Sunseri getting pressured all night, it wasn't a great night for the offensive line. If the defense is allowed to pin its ears back and rush the passer, Pitt has struggled immensely with speed rushes on the outside.
When he was able to stay upright, though, Sunseri was fantastic tonight. He stood in the pocket and took some punishing blows, but found open receivers. It wasn't a perfect day. He missed some open guys and the intentional grounding penalty was a mistake that a fifth-year senior simply should not make. Overall, though, this game continued the upward trend he showed in the Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb games.
- Devin Street had himself a day today. Street finished with a career-high 10 receptions for 130 yards. Today, he was the guy that kept getting open on third down and seemed to have a strong rapport with Sunseri. Earlier this season, that was Mike Shanahan. Having Sunseri comfortable and trusting both those guys is a big step forward for this offense. Street told me after the game that he did feel like he and Sunseri have forged a stronger connection this season. He said they're on the same page with coverages and whatnot a lot more this season, and that could be a big help for Pitt's offense.
- Manny Williams and K'Waun Williams left midway through the game with some various injuries, but Paul Chryst didn't provide any additional insight after the game. K'Waun showed up for post-game interviews with some ice on his left knee, but said it was just a minor injury...