Kevan Smith completed 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards, including one beautiful 61-yard bomb to redshirt sophomore wideout Oderick Turner and a 50-yard scoring pass to sophomore tight end Nate Byham. He also was picked off once, a nice read and catch by Grambling weak-side linebacker John Carter, and fumbled once. That turnover followed a big sack.
"Kevan, I thought he did a good job managing the game for what we asked him to do,'' Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He hit the one deep ball. He slipped once or twice, but for his first start ... if we can get our running game going, which we have to do to take some pressure off him, he'll improve.''
Smith benefitted from the return of fifth-year senior Mike McGlynn to the offensive line. McGlynn started at right guard for sophomore Joe Thomas and played about three quarters without any problems. He missed the majority of the spring and the entire preseason due to shoulder surgery.
"I played the first three drives, and then I got a rest,'' McGlynn said. "We scored pretty quick, so I was able to get some breaks. ... Kevan did a good job, and he'll only get better with more playing time. So, I'm looking forward to working with him a lot more this week.''
Smith also benefitted from some hard running by freshman tailback LeSean McCoy, who ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns. That loosened Grambling's defense a bit, and Smith connected with Byham for a 50-yard touchdown and added the scintillating 61-yard hookup with Turner.
"We were backed up, and I didn't think Coach Cav was going to give me the call,'' Smith said. "But he gave me a heads up, and I was ready for it. We got the look that we expected, so I dropped back. My line blocked great for me, and made a deep throw, and he was wide-open for me. So, it was a big play.
"(Cavanaugh) told me last Monday or Tuesday that he'd be upstairs, and that was kind of a relief, because after a bad series or something you'll see him looking at you. And you're just waiting for him to rip into you, so I was kind of happy about that. But the communication went well between him and the sideline, and we talked a lot on the headset.''
Smith said that he had some pregame jitters, but he wasn't nervous. The distinction, Smith said, is that someone could be nervous if they're not prepared. But once he got going, he felt great out there.
"I felt great in the huddle, and I'm starting to build a great rapport with the offensive line,'' Smith said. "And they have full confidence in me. They believe in me, and I believe in them. And as long as we keep that going, we're going to be fine. And I expect that to keep going every week.''
Up next for Smith and the Panthers is Michigan State, which pummeled Pitt last season after trailing at halftime.
"Michigan State, they got their new coach from Cincinnati, and I'm going to prepare just as hard as I did this past week,'' Smith said. "But we have to be ready for them. It very well could turn out to be a 37-36 game, but you never know what's going to happen.''
Pitt (2-0) faces Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. Saturday at noon.
Smith Solid In 1st Start
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