There are growing pains in being a head coach in a program for the first year, but there's something wrong when it is the quarterback that has to suffer them.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri was under pressure all day from a Rutgers defense that would sack him six times, to secure its No. 2 spot nationally in sacks, and threw three interceptions in a game that the Scarlet Knights would totally dominate, 34-10.
"They were getting to us, and we weren't able to make them hurt," Sunseri said. "We couldn't get the ball out and get it to our playmakers."
Running back Ray Graham, who somehow ran for 165 yards on 24 carries, pointed to Rutgers' aggressive play-calling on defense.
"They hit us with a lot of blitzes that caught us off guard," Graham said. "Give credit to them. We had a hard time picking it up."
While Graham gave the Scarlet Knights credit, and Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham agreed Rutgers deserved some, the coach also said his team should share some blame.
"We absolutely played our worst game of the season," Graham said. "You have to give Rutgers a lot of credit, they played extremely hard and I don't want to say one word to take away from the job that Rutgers did. First and foremost, it is my job to get our guys ready and we didn't have the team prepared to play.
"It is very disappointing and unacceptable how we played. But give Rutgers an awful lot of credit, there are no excuses. That is embarrassing to me. Personally, the difference in the game was Rutgers' defense -- their pressure. They came out and whipped our tail."
They not only took the passing game away from the Panthers, they drove Sunseri from the game at one point.
"We were struggling to get anything going," Pitt's head coach said to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, explaining his decision to use backup Trey Anderson. "We thought with all the pressure, Trey could move a little bit and maybe get out of trouble."
Sunseri returned on the next series, and Graham said after the game there is no quarterback controversy.
"I can tell you that whoever we had at quarterback wasn't going to be successful," Graham said.
Rutgers also made things tough on Ray Graham, who broke loose only twice to record the majority of his 165 yards.
"They were spying one or two guys, spying to see which way I was going," the running back said.
"They were throwing different numbers at me," Graham said.
--Rutgers has now defeated Pittsburgh in five of their last seven meetings.
--Pitt was just 2 for 14 on third down against the Scarlet Knights.
--While RB Ray Graham totaled 165 rushing yards, Rutgers still felt it did a good job on him for most of the game. He gained 88 yards on two carries and only 77 on his other 22 tries.
KEEP AN EYE ON: DT Chas Alecxih, who has come on big time in recent weeks, led Pitt in tackles with 10 and recorded the game's only sack for the Panthers. Alecxih has to keep this work up from tackle to free up DE Brandon Lindsey, the sack leader who was shut down without a tackle by Rutgers.
LOOKING GOOD: RB Ray Graham continues to amaze. Even while Pittsburgh was being knocked around up front, he gained 165 yards on 24 carries. That allowed him to set another record as he continues his assault on the record book. He has rushed for 899 yards this season, the six-game total being the best in Pitt history.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The offensive line is injured with both starting guards out, but that gives no comfort to battered QB Tino Sunseri. Sunseri was sacked six times by Rutgers and has been sacked 28 times in six games. The pressure led to four interceptions being thrown by Pitt, three of them from Sunseri as he completed 14 of 28 for only 127 yards.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We absolutely played our worst game of the season." -- Pitt Coach Todd Graham after Rutgers brutalized his team, 34-10.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Mike Shanahan, the team's second-leading receiver, managed only one catch for four yards against Rutgers.
--RB Ray Graham ranks second in the NCAA in rushing with 149.83 points a game. The leader is Oregon's LaMichael James with 170.40 a game but he is out with what appeared to be a serious arm injury. Graham's 899 total rushing yards are tops in the nation.
--Pitt played the game without senior Gs Lucas Nix and Chris Jacobson, both out with knee injuries. Jacobson is out for the year but Nix is expected to return, although there is no timetable.
--LB Todd Thomas missed the Rutgers game with an undisclosed injury. There is no word when he may be back.
--RB Ray Graham, the one player Pitt cannot lose, gave the Panthers a scare when he came out briefly in the first half with what was described as cramps. That was the first time this season that has happened.