Pitt has much to prove in prime-time road game against Connecticut
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 10:48 p.m.
For the past two months, Pitt has struggled to find an identity. But now, for better or worse, the final three regular-season games of 2012 will define coach Paul Chryst's first team.
After the season-opening defeat to FCS member Youngstown State, critics assumed Pitt could lose to anyone. But the Panthers decisively defeated then-No. 15 Virginia Tech only two weeks later.
Now, after a courageous — but failed — effort in a triple-overtime loss at No. 4 Notre Dame, perhaps Pitt can compete with anyone.
Chryst wants to see the proof.
Before he accompanied his team to Connecticut for Friday's game at Rentschler Field, Chryst was asked if the 29-26 loss in South Bend will make Pitt stronger. After all, the Panthers came within a missed field goal of upsetting an unbeaten Irish team in noisy Notre Dame Stadium.
“I am anxious to see if that cliche holds true,” Chryst said. “That, to me, is one of the storylines. Are we going to learn from that? Is that a one-time deal? Or, is that we are growing as a team?”
Pitt will confront a Connecticut team carrying a four-game losing streak into the nationally televised (ESPN2) contest. But the Huskies are 3-1 against the Panthers at Rentschler, including a come-from-behind 30-28 victory that ruined Pitt's BCS bowl hopes in 2010.
The stakes will be considerably less Friday, but a loss would seriously cripple Pitt's chance of extending its streak of bowl appearances to five in a row.
“We have to get this one to get six (victories and bowl eligibility),” senior guard Chris Jacobson said. “This is big. These seniors want to have an extra game.”
Actually, moving forward won't be tough for some players. Pitt's offensive effort against Notre Dame was nothing to remember in the fourth quarter and all three overtimes, when the Panthers gained a total of only 21 yards.
“We definitely made some mistakes, myself included,” Jacobson said. “(I) had a couple of breakdown plays where I need to do better. That's behind us now.”
Jacobson said forgetting may be difficult for younger players, but it's a necessary function of finding a way to beat Connecticut.
“You have to clean the slate and focus on other things now,” he said.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates sign free agent pitcher Volquez
- Pirates make inquiry into former Cy Young winner Johan Santana
- McCutchen proposes to girlfriend on DeGeneres show
- Police: Driver fell unconscious before Seton Hill bus crash
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Trafford police arrest woman selling drugs for `shopping money’
- Allegheny County budget committee OKs capital budget but no money for August Wilson Center
- Pirates sign Morton to 3-year extension
- First Niagara Bank in West End robbed
- Latrobe police install drug take-back box
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s