Pitt football notebook: RB Graham hitting his stride
The time is not far off when questions about Pitt running back Ray Graham's knee will end.
He's ready for that day now.
“I don't think about it anymore,” he said. “I'm just playing.”
Running on a surgically repaired right knee that has had less than 11 months to heal, Graham is on pace for his first 1,000-yard season after reaching 362 through four games.
He also is putting his name among the greatest runners in Pitt history. He needs 53 yards to pass Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin and move into eighth place on the school's all-time rushing list. Graham has 2,591 yards.
Graham had his lightest workload of the season Saturday at Heinz Field in a 55-10 victory against Gardner-Webb. He carried eight times for 94 yards, but 78 came on one touchdown run.
On that play, he outran the secondary after bursting through a huge hole in the line. Graham said he kept track of his defender by glancing up at the scoreboard and watching a feed of the play.
“I didn't look back,” he said. “Thank God for the Jumbotron. He was kind of a little ways back, so I kept running.”
Render's big chance
Pitt was missing three starters Saturday, including defensive tackle Aaron Donald and fullback Mark Giubilato, who were out with knee injuries, and tight end Hubie Graham, who has missed the past two games (clavicle).
Freshman Darryl Render replaced Donald and nearly had the first interception of his career, deflecting a pass in the air and barely out of his reach.
“I'm going to hear about it all week (from teammates),” he said. “They're going to put me on the Jugs machine.”
The 6-foot-2, 270-pound Render said he has added 30 pounds since he played defensive end last year at St. Edward High School in Cleveland.
Barring an injury to quarterback Tino Sunseri, freshman Chad Voytik will redshirt this season.
After Sunseri helped Pitt to a comfortable lead, sophomore quarterback Trey Anderson got the call and played most of the fourth quarter. He completed both of his pass attempts for 53 yards.
Pitt's 55 points represented its highest single-game output since 1999 in a 55-24 victory against Temple at Pitt Stadium. ... The 45-point margin is Pitt's best since 2006 when the Panthers beat The Citadel, 51-6, and Central Florida, 52-7. The win over Central Florida gave Pitt a 6-1 record before it lost its final five. ... Sunseri has improved his yardage total from the previous game in every week this season, including the opener. ... Receivers Mike Shanahan and Devin Street have been consistent, with Shanahan recording at least five receptions in every game and Street alternating between four and five. ... Street also had key blocks on touchdowns by Shanahan and Graham. ... Linebacker Todd Thomas (knee) was in uniform but did not play.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7997.