First, how well would redshirt freshman quarterback Kevan Smith play? He threw for more than 200 yards and one touchdown, was picked off once, sacked once and fumbled once. Second, would freshman tailback LeSean McCoy surpass 100 yards? He went over the mark in the fourth quarter and finished with 107 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.
Third, would frosh Pat Bostick get into the game at quarterback? He entered about a minute into the fourth quarter, and his first pass was picked off. fourth, how many times would the Pitt defense come up with big plays? There were too many to count, but the Panthers had interceptions and three fourth-down stops from inside the 5 during the second half.
"We're happy to be 2-0, but we should be 2-0,'' Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "That was the goal that I told the players back in January. Our quarterback situation is what it is. In a game like this ... our plan was to throw it 25 times, and that's what we did.
"Defensively, we did some great things. We stopped them 3-4 times, including on fourth-and-goal. We really overcame some adversity. We found a way to play good defense the whole game. (But) we've got a lot of work to do, because Michigan State will be a whole new ball game next week.''
Pitt scored on its second, third and fourth series to take a 21-0 lead about eight minutes into the game. McCoy entered the game on the second series, joining LaRod Stephens-Howling in the backfield, and lined up in the left slot. He took a lateral pass from Smith 25 yards and later caught a pass for 17 after lining up in the right slot. McCoy capped that 10-play, 71-yard drive with a five-yard scoring run.
Walk-on linebacker Brian Kaiser blocked a punt to give Pitt the ball at the 7, and McCoy scored on first down. Scott McKillop tipped a Grambling pass on third down on the ensuing series, and safety Eric Thatcher intercepted it. Smith hit senior tight end Darrell Strong for 18 yards, and McCoy raced in from 13 yards out to become the first Pitt frosh to get three rushing TDs since Demetrius Harris against Eastern Michigan in 1995. Elliott Walker has the Pitt freshman record with four against Temple in 1974. Tony Dorsett's best was three at West Virginia in 1973.
"They happened so fast that I really didn't have a chance to think about it,'' McCoy said. "(But) whatever I get in terms of carries or passes, I'll take. ... I had no idea I ran over 100 yards. That's nice, but the offensive line did such a great job. And the wide receivers ... everybody blocked really well.''
McCoy got the bulk of the carries in the second half because Stephens-Howling suffered bruised ribs early and was held out after getting seven yards on three carries. Pitt ran for 119 yards overall.
Grambling benefitted from a questionable pass-interference call to score next, as quarterback Brandon Landers connected with Clyde Edwards for a 29-yard touchdown. Smith's fumble gave the Tigers a field goal, but the Pitt defense held them to minus-1 yard despite getting the ball inside the 20.
Smith hooked up with sophomore tight end Nate Byham from 50 yards out to stretch Pitt's lead to 28-10 late in the first half, and Conor Lee added a 20-yard field goal with time running out after a Mike Phillips interception. Dorin Dickerson tipped the pass on its way to the secondary. Scott McKillop also tipped a pass away in the end zone on Pitt's first fourth-down stop. The defense added two more in the fourth quarter, and Lee had a 27-yard field goal to set the final score. Lowell Robinson added a fourth-quarter pick.
"We had a lot of adversity in the second half with us being so close to our own goal line, and we had some people step up to make big plays on defense,'' Scott McKillop said. "We did a lot of film work on them and were able to take advantage with those tipped passes.''
Notes: The only other Pitt injury was junior DT Gus Mustakas, who banged up his knee in the third quarter. ... Pitt's captains were seniors Joe Clermond, Strong and Robinson. ... The attendance was 30,852.
McCoy Hits 100
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