Pitt, as expected, won today's game against New Hampshire. The game finished fairly close to what I predicted over at SB Nation Pittsburgh (actual score was 38-16 and my prediction was 30-13). I expected Pitt to have little trouble with this matchup and that's basically how it played out.
Tino Sunseri came out and posted better numbers than his first start. Obviously, playing an FCS school at home should help with that. All in all, I think he looked fairly good again. He seemed to be a little more comfortable and his final stats (24-34 for 275 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT) were solid. In actuality, he very well could have ended up with two interceptions as one of his passes was thrown right to a defender who dropped it. There were also a few instances of him simply making poor throws that should have resulted in completions. But again, for only his second start, I think he's progressing nicely.
Pitt's defense played fairly well despite the absence of starters Greg Romeus and Dom DeCicco. I honestly don't know what to make of the whole Greg Romeus thing. He sat out all of camp, even with Dave Wannstedt appearing as if the injury was nothing more than stiffness/soreness. Then he played in the first game last week, but clearly wasn't himself. So he sits out again today, presumably to try to get him healthy for the Miami game. Sitting him for this game was obviously the right move as Pitt didn't need him, but it'd be nice to know what his status really is...especially in light of the fact that Pitt has apparently decided it will not be complying with that whole Big East injury report thing. This has been going on since the beginning of camp and at this point, it's easy to wonder if this is going to be a season-long thing.
At any rate, New Hampshire's star running back, Dontra Peters, who rushed for nearly 200 yards the week before had a long day, going for only 15 yards on 11 carries.
And speaking of star running backs not having great days, that takes us to the story of the day - Dion Lewis. Lewis again struggled to find rushing room, finishing for a career-worst 27 yards on only ten carries. To his credit and something I didn't hear mentioned on the post-game radio show during my drive home (not to say it wasn't...just not while I was listening), he did have five receptions out of the backfield for 52 yards.
I'm not ready to panic on Lewis yet. While I expected him to have a big day, I also didn't expect the coaches only to give him ten rushing attempts. I think Wannstedt wanted to get Ray Graham some work after missing last week's game and some time at camp. I expect that he believes he might need both backs against Miami and really needed to try to get Graham up to speed.
So no, I'm not jumping on the 'running back controversy' thing, which is surely to get rolling next week. Lewis struggled a bit, Wannstedt needed a spark and also to get Graham some time. And once Graham got going, why would you take him out? I had no problem with Wannstedt's use of Graham today because, well, you know, it worked.
But one thing I will say is that without a miraculous comeback, the Dion Lewis for Heisman talk is officially dead. He was going to have a tough time as it was convincing voters that he's the man for the award. Now, after two subpar games, including one against an FCS foe, he's got no shot. Want me to put it in perspective? Even if he averages 150 yards per game over ten more regular season games and a bowl game, he still will finish short of his 2009 total of 1,799 yards...a total, by the way, that garnered him virtually no Heisman consideration at all. So, yeah, I'd say it's safe to call it a wrap.
That doesn't mean he can't have a productive season and I still expect that to happen. But any chance of repeating his incredible freshman season seems lost.
Pitt now gets a bye week to prepare for a home game against Miami on the following Thursday night. I would have gladly taken 2-1 after the first three games and if Pitt is able to do that with this schedule, I'd qualify that as a very good start to the season.