Pitt notebook: Offense falls flat when needed most
By Jerry DiPaola
Published: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 8:27 p.m.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A Pitt team and an offense that looked so productive after piling up 424 yards against Duke last month has fallen on hard times.
When the Panthers needed to control the ball late in a 24-21 loss to Navy on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the offense reached down and couldn't help.
“I think we got a little complacent,” quarterback Tom Savage said.
Judging the offense solely on Savage's numbers, the game didn't look that bad. He completed 20 of 27 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, with only one sack and no interceptions for the third consecutive week. That's improvement from the first four games, when he endured a head injury, repeated sacks and six interceptions in the season's first four games.
But Savage bounced around the pocket repeatedly, trying to avoid negative plays while failing to record enough positive ones.
“The last thing you want to do is throw high over their heads over the middle and get (intercepted),” he said. “You can't sit there too long and take sacks. The last thing you want to do is start a drive second-and-15.”
Freshman running back James Conner, who didn't play last week because of a shoulder injury, was not used after losing a fumble in the first half.
“You talk about big plays in the game,” coach Paul Chryst said. “I think that was a big play.”
Navy got its second bit of good fortune when it turned the mistake into a touchdown on the next play.
Despite good coverage from Pitt cornerback K'Waun Williams, Navy senior running back Marcus Thomas caught a deflected pass from quarterback Keenan Reynolds and ran 58 yards for a touchdown. It was Thomas' first career touchdown and second career catch.
Chryst failed to call timeout, even though he had three of them, during Navy's game-winning drive because he didn't want to give the Midshipmen more time to get into field-goal range.
“I was thinking about it,” he said. “In hindsight, maybe you would have or should have. Their kicker had been struggling.”
But the clock kept ticking and Sloan hit the 30-yard field goal with no time left.
Receiver Devin Street became Pitt's all-time leader in career receptions (186) and moved into third place in receiving yards (2,692), but he said the outcome made it “bittersweet.”
“I accomplished what I came here to do,” said Street, a fifth-year senior. “But I want to do a lot more. We still lost.
“We have to clean up the details. There has to be more heart and more fire in it by everyone.”
Street passed Larry Fitzgerald (2,677) and Latef Grim (2,680). Antonio Bryant (3,061) is No. 1, followed by Dietrich Jells (3,003).
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