Panthers Slow Down To Work Out Kinks

Quarterback Tino Sunseri benefited from the slowed down pace of Saturday's gameplan at Louisville. Sunseri completed 16-of-22 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. The junior quarterback also rushed for 31 yards and another score.

One of the signatures of Todd Graham's coaching reign at Tulsa was his "High Octane" offense, a fast paced, explosive offense.

"We'll be the most explosive team in the country," he said when formally introduced to the Pittsburgh media.

He put the offense in but has struggled with it, so this week for the Louisville game he switched from high octane to regular, slowing the pace and profiting from it was an important victory. Instead of snapping the ball every 15 seconds, he took 25 seconds.

"We had zero penalties today, and that is how you measure your discipline as a football team," Graham said in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Our guys were very disciplined. We took care of the ball for the most part.

"You probably noticed that we weren't very fast today, but that's what I talked about last week, that we probably tried to go too fast and do too much. It is better to execute than to go fast and mess up."

The result was one of the cleanest games of the year for the Panthers. They had one turnover on a fumble, three sacks but had no penalties. Graham praised his offense for being almost perfect.

"We'd like to get quicker with our tempo, but it is better to be efficient, and we did a good job," Graham said. "We had no penalties, and, other than that one (fumble), we were one play away from playing what we consider a perfect game."

While they didn't score a lot, they didn't have to because the Pitt defense was superb, holding Louisville to 280 total yards.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of the defense," Graham said. "We turn the football over late, and they come out and force a three-and-out. That was special."

NOTES, QUOTES
--Pitt has had at least one sack in each of the last 22 games, since the Sept. 2, 2010, meeting with Utah. LB Elijah Price had the team's only sack against Louisville.

--Interesting look ahead: Pitt and West Virginia have an off-week before playing in the Backyard Brawl on Friday, Nov. 25, and they come into it on opposite ends of the spectrum in one area. WVU, in its victory over Cincinnati, was hit by 14 penalties. Pitt, in its victory over Louisville, was not penalized.

--QB Tino Sunseri's 16 completions included two apiece to RBs Zach Brown and Isaac Bennett.

KEEP AN EYE ON: OLB Carl Fleming -- He was off the radar a few weeks back, playing on the third team. That didn't sit well with him and battled himself into the position where he could start against Louisville and delivered, making the game-changing play when he made an interception of QB Teddy Bridgewater on Louisville's opening drive.

LOOKING GOOD: WR Devin Street has shown he has the makings of being a premier receiver. Against Louisville he caught six passes for 101 yards, including a 59-yard connection from QB Tino Sunseri. It was his second straight 100-yard game and third of the season.

"Devin can be a game-changing receiver," Sunseri said. "That adds another (dimension) because now Mike Shanahan's on the other side. It's kind of like, pick your poison."

STILL NEEDS WORK: Pitt's punting has been disappointing for much of the year and it almost proved the undoing against Louisville. Matt Yoklic averaged just 31.4 yards on five punts, but the worst came from out of his end zone and was a 7-yard shank that gave Louisville possession at the Pitt 11 and led to a touchdown.

"It looked pretty bad," coach Todd Graham said. "It almost hit me."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Everyone on defense should have gotten a game ball." -- Pitt Coach Todd Graham after the defense led the Panthers to a 21-14 victory over Louisville to get itself back into the hunt for a Big East championship and BCS Bowl bid.


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