Close, But No Win

Forget about that last play for a minute, although I'm sure it will take quite a while for that to dissipate from the Pitt football players' mind, but where was the urgency on offense in the first half that the Panthers displayed later in the game against Louisville?

Sure, the Pittsburgh defense missed making some plays and got burned a few times during the course of the afternoon, but overall the Panthers did a nice job holding the Cardinals far below their average in passing and scoring. And they kept Pitt in the game and gave the offense a chance.

But until the second half, when Pat Bostick finally completed medium-range passes to T.J. Porter, Maurice Williams (finally allowed to make a major contribution) and a couple big tosses to Oderick Turner, the offense was boring and predictable. When will offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh open things up from the outset? Sure, playing it close to the vest can keep the score close, but it can also retard the offense's progress.

However, Pitt's performance on that side of the ball in the second half should not be discounted. Even though the Panthers lost in a tough way for the second time this season, they showed a lot of heart and character with the way they came back in the second half, especially in the late scoring drive and final march to the goal line.

LeSean McCoy, what more can be said about him? He is spectacular, and if the Panthers can continue to jell on the offensive line the running game should remain a strong point. The passing game, with Bostick and some young receivers, can only get better as well.

Defensively, Greg Romeus continued to make plays and deserves more playing time. As vulnerable as the secondary has been, the group came up with a few plays when it needed to against a truly high-powered Louisville offense. Pitt defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads mixed it up just enough to keep the Cardinals off-balance. A couple dropped passes helped as well, but Pitt's defense played well enough for the team to get a win.

The offense came up a bit short at the end. Now, back to that fumble on the goal line. With a player like McCoy, there's going to be some mistakes, especially while he's young. But the big plays and excitement generated certainly outweigh any negatives.

It's unfortunate that the Panthers lost a game they had a chance to win, but it should be preferable to look at it as a positive performance.

Pitt was in the game far longer than most gave it a chance, certainly a few weeks ago, and eventually these close games will go the Panthers' way. They have to. It's only a matter of time.

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