Pitt-USF: Five-High, Five-Low

A week ago, it was easier to find more good than bad. This week, it's the complete opposite.

FIVE HIGH
1. It's beginning to look like Ray Graham will be a weekly fixture among the five high for the week. Although Graham has been outstanding through the first four weeks, Graham elevated his game to a new level against South Florida.

The first conference game brought out his most impressive performance to date as Graham torched South Florida's defense to the tune of 226 yards 26 carries. Graham performed so well that he even got mentioned in a tweet by Miami Heat start LeBron James. Not only did Graham do damage on the ground but he also caught 4 passes for 42 yards. Graham's best catch of the night came on a pass that quarterback Tino Sunseri threw slightly behind Graham, however Graham adjusted and made a remarkable one-handed catch. Hopefully when Pitt returns to action against Rutgers Graham is ready to put in another effort against his home state school.

2.) I know it was only one game but we must give credit when credit is due and after last evening's performance Tino Sunseri deserves a significant amount of credit. Sunseri finished 22-of-33 for 216 yards and 1 passing score. In addition to his passing touchdown Sunseri contributed a nine-yard rushing score. Overall Sunseri looked much improved from the Notre Dame game just by how he delivered the ball on time and revert to old ways by holding on to the ball for too long.

3.) For the second week in a row Todd Thomas has earned himself on the Five High for the week. This week Thomas had four tackles including one for a loss of 12 yards, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry where he just narrowly missed a sack. Thomas once again played all over the field for the Panthers trying to create mismatches for the opposing offense. As Todd Graham eluded to in his post game new conference he said "He (Thomas) continues to learn the system," which means once Thomas fully grasps all of his responsibility opposing offenses will never know where number eight will be coming from.

4.) The emergence of Cam Saddler was a huge bright spot for the Panthers last night. Saddler was the leading receiver last night after hauling in six passes for 68 yards. Saddler was Sunseri's check down receiver much of the night hauling in short passes giving him the opportunity to produce yards after the catch. Hopefully this isn't just a one game mirage from Saddler because as the Panthers get deep into the Big East schedule they're going to need all of their offensive weapons clicking on all cylinders.

5.) A win is a win is a win. Anytime you can open Big East conference play 1-0 like the Panthers did last night is a major positive. This was especially a nice win after the abysmal performance four days prior against Notre Dame. It is important to remember that is only one game, however let's hope we will see more of what we saw last night in the Panthers for the rest of the season.

FIVE LOW
1.) Although Pitt entered last evening's game only 2-2 and vastly under achieving what fans were wanting to see from the new "high octane offense" the attendance last evening was poor. The recorded attendance of 40, 025 for a nationally televised Thursday night game against the 14th ranked team in the nation was extremely low. Hopefully after the blowout last night the city is rejuvenated for Pitt football and the attendance gets back to selling out Heinz Field as they did for Notre Dame.

2.) After entering the game only giving up 105 yards per game on the ground the Panthers defense allowed 202 yards rushing and two scores. The zone- red offense that South Florida was employing seemed to give the defense some headaches in the beginning of the game until adjustments were made at halftime. After halftime Pitt outscored USF 24-0 due in large part to the pressure the defense started putting on USF quarterback B.J. Daniels.

3.) Speaking of BJ Daniels he was a major negative, or positive for Pitt fans, of the game. Every year it seems like Daniels turns in a couple really solid games before he plays the Panthers and as he enters the Pitt game there always seems to be a lot of hype surround the quarterback. This was the case again this year as Daniels wasn't the impact player in the game that many expected him to be.

4.) Another major loss came to the Pitt offense line on the second play of the first offensive series of the game. On that play Lucas Nix went down with an apparent left leg injury and did not return to the game. Although he was on the sidelines rooting for his teammates losing an All-Big East is never an easy pill for a team to swallow. Even though backup Ryan Schlieper came in and played well the team still hopes one of its offensive captains can return to game action soon.

5.) Although Pitt turned in what looked like a complete effort last night even Coach Graham eluded to some of the things Pitt could do better. I believe one important aspect of the offense the team must find is the threat of the deep pass which entering this season was thought to be one of the biggest parts of the new offense. It appeared as if Pitt only attempted one deep ball, an incomplete pass well overthrown of intended receiver Devin Street, and while I know the offense has to play to the quarterback's strengths I believe the addition of the deep ball could do wonders for the offense. It would be a great way to take the extra guy out of the box to give Ray Graham running room, and a deep pass always seems to provide an added energy boost to a team. Overall a great performance turned in by the Panthers last night.


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