McCoy-Stephens-Howling Pick Up Pace

Junior LaRod Stephens-Howling and freshman LeSean McCoy at tailback didn't run through Eastern Michigan as well as many previously believed, but they showed flashes of what the Panthers could get from them in the running game in the future.

LaRod Stephens-Howling started and ran for 67 yards on 16 carries, a solid 4.2 average, but LeSean McCoy came on in the second quarter and ended up leading Pittsburgh with 68 yards on just 10 carries and a gaudy 6.8-yard average.

"LeSean McCoy did a nice job,'' Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He's a playmaker. It was good to get him some playing time.''

Pitt's running game didn't hit its stride until the second half and finished with just 130 total yards with a 3.1-yard average per run, but when Stephens-Howling cranked it up he rumbled for 30 yards on one carry.

"I nearly broke that one all the way,'' Stephens-Howling said. "I thought I had it, but that last guy got me. I thought we ran the ball pretty well, for the most part, but we'll get better the more we play together.''

McCoy's best run was a 29-yarder where he broke a couple tackles and went wide left before running out of room on the sideline.

"I'm finally back all the way, and it really felt good to come in here and run again,'' McCoy said. "It was a little more than I expected. I was prepared very well, but things happened just so fast out there that it was a little crazy. But I settled in after a while, and I think I ran pretty well in the second half.

"I think some of our younger guys were a little nervous early on, including me, but we got going in the second half. I think the line blocked excellent, but we just missed a couple holes that we'll hit as we get more experience playing together. Overall, I think we played all right.''

In the fourth quarter, McCoy even dropped back as a punt returner, but he didn't get a chance to touch the ball.

"I got a couple reps in practice, so I know what I'm doing, but I haven't done it too much,'' McCoy said. "I'll do whatever I need to do to help the team, but I think we'll have a pretty good running game in the future.''

With McCoy and Stephens-Howling at tailback, at least Pitt finally has options at tailback.

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