After escaping a sluggish start, Pitt was able to pull away from the Orange. Trap games are over now and here's where it gets serious for Pitt. Games vs. Notre Dame, West Virginia, and Cincinnati are all certainly losable, but also all winable. At this point, for me, Pitt needs to finish at least 10-2 before this season can be considered a success. Sure, 9-3 at the beginning of the season would have looked pretty good, but since they've started 8-1, that would be a disappointment.
Onto a very quick recap of what I recall from the game:
- Dion Lewis solved the Orange defense with 114 yards and a TD averaging 6 yards a carry. His numbers are starting to look pedestrian and that's a scary thought. Ray Graham looked pretty mediocre today and I'm starting to fall into the group that would be fine to see him only enter in for a few plays per game. There's no reason to pull Lewis at this point and even the announcers seemed confused when Graham came in for one series, thinking Lewis had an injury.
- And speaking of the announcers, I'm not the type to bash these guys. Most see different teams each week and there's no way they could be on top of everything. But they left a lot to be desired. A lot of botches today from them. The one that got me was the guy who announced the score as 21-3, then upon saying the score wrong (it was actually 20-3), promptly excused himself saying he meant to say the score was 21-3. Really - how hard can it be to at least get the score right. And if another announcer calls Henry Hynoski's hometown Elysburg (pronouncing it like it looks - Elies Burg when it's actually pronounced Eee-Lees Burg), I'm going to scream. Maybe I'm having a bad day.
- Syracuse was able to capitalize and keep the score close in the first half until disaster struck. You could literally FEEL the entire game get away from them after that Paulus interception that was a pick 6. That made it a ten-point lead and even though Syrcause had some success running the ball, it didn't seem like they were going to be able to overcome that. The sideline looked dejected, almost like they expected it to happen. The very next play on the kickoff return, the return man ran right into his own blocker. Talk about bad signs.
- Kick return game was disastrous and the bad news is that I don't think there's any easy fix. A couple of bobbles/drops and Aaron Smith calling for a fair catch when there's no one within 20 yards of him is inexcusable. Oh, and Cam Saddler catching the ball on the five as he's going out of bounds? That was my 'scream at the TV and hope they hear me' moment. Seriously though, I don't know who else they really have left to field kicks, so kick returns might be kind of a 'hold your breath' exercise for Pitt fans.
- It's hard to nitpick in a 27-point win, but I was really puzzled by some of the coaching calls today. I thought not going for it on their first drive of the game when it was literally 4th and inches was a mistake. They went for the short field goal to tie it up and while it wasn't a terrible call, you've got to trust Hynoski or even a QB sneak can get the first down. I was almost wondering if Wannstedt knew that he could get another first down and didn't need to get a touchdown there. The call for Ray Graham to run on 3rd and 9? I don't even know how to address this. And kicking the FG with 9 seconds left was a bad call. At that point it was only 3rd down and I there was plenty of time to throw a sideline route to get a little closer. There were others I questioned, but those are just the ones that stand out.
- I said it before, but I was unsure why Chris Burns came in again for mop-up duty. I guess to keep both Lewis and Graham healthy, but 1. I thought he was switching positions to either safety or corner, and 2., it would be nice to have preserved his redshirt if they think he is really going to be a good player in the secondary.
- So many players made good plays including Lewis, Bill Stull, Jonathan Baldwin, Cedric McGee - but Dorin Dickerson had an unbelievable game with 7 catches, 118 yards, and a TD. I've stopped being mad at the coaches for not using him properly before this and just have really been watching and appreciating his play. Pitt should have a good team next year with the return of a lot of guys, but Dickerson may be missed the most.
Looking forward to these next three games.