Pitt takes on Ball State at Heinz Field

The Ball State Cardinals come to town Saturday, returning 4 starters on offense and 7 starters on defense from a team that finished 6-6 last season. One of their wins last season came over future Big East member Connecticut (24-21). Ball State brings a 1-1 record into the game after defeating Indiana State in the opener (31-7) and losing to Missouri last week (35-7).

The leader of the Cardinals is senior QB Andy Roesch. Andy completed 113 of 202 passes for 1,341 yards and 15 TD's last season. He was injured last week against Missouri and may not be able to play this weekend. Senior Talmadge Hill came in for Roesch and was 8 of 12 for 89 yards.

The Cardinals' top receiving threat is sophomore Dante Ridgeway. Ridgeway had 8 catches for 96 yards against Missouri. Junior RB Scott Blair is their leading rusher and has rushed for 74 yards on 22 carries and 1 TD so far this season.

The strength of the Cardinals team is their defense, and it's considered one of the best in the MAC this season. Standout linebacker Lorenzo Scott and safety Justin Beriault are considered All-American candidates. Beriault had 16 tackles in the Missouri game and Scott added 15 tackles and 1 sack. The Cardinals return 3 of 4 starters from last season's defensive line and also 2 of 3 starters at the linebacker positions.

Pitt is coming off an impressive 43-3 opening game performance against Kent State. Rod Rutherford had an outstanding game and finished 17 of 25 for 288 yards and 4 TD's. His favorite target, of course, is All-American candidate Larry Fitzgerald, who caught 6 passes for 123 yards and 3 TD's last week. Brandon Miree had an excellent game also as he rushed for 113 yards on 21 carries for an impressive 5.4 yards per carry.

The Panthers were led on defense by redshirt freshman LB Brian Bennett, who collected 9 tackles. True freshman LB H.B. Blades added 6 tackles. Maybe the most impressive thing about the Panthers defense was that senior stars Claude Harriott and Lewis Moore both had relatively quiet games against Kent State. With as many as five freshmen getting extensive playing time last week for the Panthers defense, it looks like the best is yet to come.

Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Heinz field as the Panthers look to improve to 2-0 on the 2003 season.

Brian Gold
PittInsiders.com


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