Where Does Pitt Go From Here?

A few things need to happen for Pitt to get back on the winning track after stumbling at Michigan State.

Since junior quarterback Bill Stull will just begin rehab this week, he likely is still two weeks away as a conservative guess. Stull just got the stitches out in his right thumb, I believe, so he hasn't even tried to throw a football with that hand yet. Actually, he was throwing some left-handed late last week and looked pretty good, so ... just kidding.

That means starting quarterback is still Kevan Smith's job, apparently not to lose or it would be gone, but the offensive coaches clearly need to find more ways to get the ball in LeSean McCoy's hands and utilize all their offensive weapons. That includes freshman wideout Maurice Williams.

Williams could run the option with McCoy and LaRod Stephens-Howling in the backfield and even throw out of that, since he played quarterback in high school, which is a wrinkle Pittsburgh didn't have this past week even though announcer Andre Ware wanted McCoy to throw it so badly.

I'm not calling for Pitt to bench Smith altogether, but a little more imagination is needed, for sure. And don't wait until halftime to go to the Jeff Long-Arkansas shuffle. If that came in the first half against Michigan State, who knows?

On the offensive line, I'm not sure there are any other moves that can be made. I believe they would have happened already. Some believe that Ty Tkach, who has worked some as a long-snapper, should be the center and then you have an anchor for four years with just a little learning curve this season. But it seems to be working out pretty well for him as a D-end.

It looks like C.J. Davis was never an option, and the John Bachman experiment didn't work. What to do with Mike McGlynn and Joe Thomas ... it is a quandary. Maybe it will work itself out, but improved O-line play is a must as the season wears on. It will be a long second half if things don't improve on offense and on the offensive line and at quarterback in particular.

Also on offense, the wideouts and tight ends must make more plays. I know it's tough to catch passes that are too high, too low or thrown badly behind them, but somehow it has to be done to take a little heat off the running game. This is where offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and his staff need to come up with more ways to spread the ball around and get more touches for McCoy and 0-for-12 on third down can be greatly improved.

Defensively, hardly any changes need to be made. Just a few things need to be tightened up, however, like the penalties and missed tackles. There were a few times that plays were there to be made, but they didn't happen for whatever reason. But that's about it.

Truthfully, it would be difficult for Pitt's defense to play much better than it did against Michigan State, but the Panthers certainly have to play at least as well the rest of the way to be successful unless improvements are made on offense.

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