Many Questions left To Be Answered

The University of Pittsburgh took a shot to the chin on Thursday night in Morgantown, WV, as they were defeated soundly 45-13 by the nation's 12th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. The Panthers watched as their faint bowl hopes were dashed.

The big question entering Thursday nights 98th annual "Backyard Brawl" was could Pittsburgh stop the Mountaineers ground game. The answer would be a resounding, "No". The Mountaineers rolled up 451 yards on the ground. WVU quarterback Pat White ran for 220 yards on 23 carries, which set a new Big East record that had been previously established by Michael Vick against Boston College in 2000.

White wasn't the only Mountaineer to impose his will on the Panthers as freshman phenom Steve Slaton ran for 179 yards on 34 carries. He scored twice on the ground and also caught a Pat White touchdown pass. The West Virginia offensive line owned Pittsburgh's front four. The Mountaineers opened up gaping holes all night long for White and Slaton. The Panthers weren't helped when they lost their defensive leader and the Big East's leading tackler H.B. Blades early in the game

The Panthers played tough in the first half only trailing 21-13 at the intermission. The Panthers squandered several scoring opportunities. Palko connected with Greg Lee on a 64-yard scoring pass and then hit lee again from 31-yards out. A bad snap on the point after try had the Panthers down eight.

As Panthers fans have grown accustomed to Dave Wannnstedt's staff failed to make halftime adjustments and were pounded the entire second half. When the Panthers did get close to scoring they would lose the ball on downs or by turnover and did not have the firepower to keep up.

The Mountaineers are now (9-1) and can wrap up a BCS bid if they defeat South Florida on December 3 in Tampa. Pittsburgh finished with their first losing season since 1999.

Expectations :

You can sugarcoat things all you want, but in the end this team failed to meet any kind of expectations and tonight was no different. Is Paul Rhoads long for Pittsburgh? Will Dave Wannstedt do some house cleaning as is expected/ Right now there are far more questions then answers. There are a lot of Panthers who played their hearts out all season, but there are also a number of players who probably have a hard time looking in the mirror right now. Last year's recruiting class was good, this years is phenomenal so the pieces are in place for a turnaround next season.

One thing that led to the downfall of Walt Harris was his loyalty to his assistant's it will be very interesting to see if Coach Wannstedt follows suit. It's fairly evident that this team lacks speed and the horses up front. Against West Virginia the offensive line did not perform badly, but the defensive line was crushed. No one expected a drubbing like that.

The good, the bad, the ugly :

We pretty much covered the bad and the ugly so let's find some positives. Tyler Palko is back for his senior season. The offensive line believe it or not should be vastly improved next season. It will be interesting to see if Greg Lee takes the next step and develops into a great player. This team needs players on defense; next season I would not be shocked to see a lot of true freshmen earn early playing time. Freshmen LaRod Stephens-Howling, C.J. Davis, John Bachman, John Pelusi, Rashad Jennings, Conredge Collins, Tommie Campbell all played roles for the Panthers and the experience will be invaluable for next season.

Recruiting :

While the Panthers won't be preparing for a bowl game they will have plenty of time to focus on recruiting and trying to finish off what is looking like an outstanding class. Wannstedt will have time to sort things out and make whatever personnel decisions he needs to make in order to turn this thing around next season.

BCS :

One positive is we are almost done with the football season and we'll be free from listening to the continuous asinine comments from the media and the constant knocking of the Big East conference. Yes, Mr. Herbstreit it is PALKO not PAULKO. ** News Flash** Virginia Tech owns the ACC, yes the same Hokies who couldn't own the Big East. Here's to hoping that the Big East's bowl teams represent us well an open up a giant can on the rest of the nation and get us some respect back.


Panther More Top Stories