Teel Learns From Big Game

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Mike Teel quickly erased throwing and scoring droughts with his record-setting performance Saturday. It took him merely two plays to absolve himself.

"In other games, the defense would let up a touchdown or the opposing offense would go down to score," Teel said after practice. "I would be like, ‘Alright we got to go, we got to get it back.' In this game as a whole, it's like, ‘It's our turn to go back out there.' It was fun to do it. I wasn't pressured to perform."

Teel, a fifth-year senior, never succumbed to the pressure or doubts of the metropolitan area enthusiasts.

Instead, the Oakland, N.J. native exceeded his longest throwing day of his career, practically accomplishing the feat in the first half (311).

"You stay even keel through it all," Teel said. "As good as it was and as fun as it was to play, that was last week. We need to work this week, try to get better throughout this bye week. In a week we start to prepare for Syracuse."

Before Teel watches film on the Orange, which visits in two weeks, thanks to a scheduled bye, rewind the tape to Pittsburgh.

After the Panthers took an early 7-0 lead, Teel snapped his helmet strap, took a deep breath and aired out a bomb to Tim Brown, a junior, on his second pass attempt of the game (first one was completed to Tiquan Underwood for 15 yards and a Rutgers first down). The 60-yard touchdown completion happened before one could blink.

A few drives later, the score still tied, Offensive Coordinator John McNulty called for another pass, this one on first-and-10 at the RU 21.

Not only did Teel, a third-year starter, hit junior wideout Kenny Britt in stride, Britt ably avoided the tackle and streamed into the end zone for a 14-7 edge, on the 79-yard reception.

"Probably, I think as a whole and when you finally get it, everything feeds off that," Teel said of needing one big play to snowball. "I think the biggest thing for me was that I just went out and played."

He sure did.

By halftime, Teel had cushioned the Scarlet Knights' lead to 34-24 with five TDs and 311 yards in the air.

By the conclusion, a 54-34 Knights victory, Teel totaled a career-best 361 yards on 14-21 attempts and six touchdowns, including three to Britt, his favorite target. Teel also set a school record with the latter mark (6 TDs) and became the first Big East quarterback to throw for five in the first half in a league contest.

For his outstanding performance, the Big East named Teel Offensive Player of the Week; USA Today followed suit with a National Player of the Week honor.

This offensive magnificence exemplified by Teel's innate talent stunned everyone who watched Pitt's Homecoming at Heinz Field.

"I think it's always had it," Teel said of the offensive potential. "We've done in the past with the same guys. One thing that Coach (Greg Schiano) always says, ‘Of course we lose Ray (Rice) and some offensive linemen, but guys that are making plays are still in the room- the receivers are still there. There still are offensive linemen that blocked last year."

Teel even crudely referred to himself in the third person.

"There is still a quarterback that threw the ball," he said. "It's just a matter of going out and doing it. It's a relief in a sense to do it."

The Knights improved to 3-5, 2-2 in the Big East with their first two conference wins of 2008.

Yet throughout this seesaw season, which has since shifted in RU's favor the last two weeks, Teel remains on an even keel.

"You have to," he said. "One week you're down here, the other you're up here. You can't live like that."

Or else…

"You'll probably have a heart attack," Teel said, wryly.

If Teel replicates Saturday's performance, he might cause opponents' coronaries.

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