The Panther Report

Seven days after they edged I-AA Furman 41-38 in overtime, Pittsburgh dropped its Big East opener at Connecticut 29-17. The trip marked the Panthers' first to Rentschler Field.

Junior quarterback Tyler Palko's 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter gave Pittsburgh a 17-16 lead, but Connecticut responded with a six-play, 62-yard drive that was capped by quarterback Dan Orlovsky's 8-yard touchdown pass to receiver Keron Henry.

Palko completed 11 of 31 pass attempts for 267 yards and rushed for an additional 49, but received little protection from the offensive line. Connecticut managed four sacks for minus-29 yards, and Palko ran for his life on several occasions.

Pittsburgh's rushing attack continued to be ineffective. Take away Palko's 49-yard contribution and the Panthers rushed for just 33 yards. The team is averaging 94.8 yards per game on the ground.

Pittsburgh (2-2) returns to action at Temple on Saturday. It's too early to identify any game as a "must win," but if the Panthers can't hang one on Temple (1-4), it's going to be a long season for coach Walt Harris.

Game Ball: QB Tyler Palko -- The junior completed 11 of 31 pass attempts for 267 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 49 yards and scored a 1-yard touchdown on the ground as Pittsburgh dropped a 29-17 decision at Connecticut.

Keep An Eye On: WR Greg Lee -- Lee only caught two passes, but each made an obvious impact. Lee snared a Palko pass and cruised 77 yards for a first-quarter touchdown, then added a 52-yard reception later in the game.

Quote The QB: "Our guys were fighting. They'll continue to keep fighting and you won't hear me say a bad word about them. We need to get better, including myself. You have to look at this as a learning experience." -- QB Tyler Palko on his team's loss at Connecticut.

Working Hard: QB Tyler Palko continues to mature in a difficult situation, managing to put up solid numbers against UConn despite poor protection and a nonexistent running game. Bottom line: He has potential but needs more weapons to succeed.

The Struggles: Pittsburgh's ground game continues to struggle. Coach Walt Harris even played true freshman TB Brandon Mason, who he had planned to redshirt, when Tim Murphy sustained an injury. The Panthers are averaging 94.8 rushing yards per game and only one back, Raymond Kirkley, has reached the 100-yard plateau (100 vs. Ohio and 108 vs. Furman).

Injury Report:  LT Rob Petitti was injured in the third quarter and didn't return. P Adam Graessle also exited the game. Walk-on Nick Krut stepped in for Graessle. Their status for the Temple game was undetermined. ... RG John Simonitis played for the first time this season.

Panther Digest Top Stories