PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — Depending on how the rest of this season goes, we’ll all either remember or try to forget the brief era that’s set to begin.
That era is the Zach Brown era.
No longer does Pitt possess the nation’s top running back. No longer can fans be sure that Pitt will at least have one dangerous offensive threat, which became increasingly more valuable through each of the first eight games as quarterback Tino Sunseri has experienced very high highs and low lows.
They have, on paper, a below-average offense.
But, it’s important to realize how lucky Pitt is to have Brown around, especially in this position. Behind Brown is junior Desmond Brown, who hasn’t played organized football since high school, and four freshmen: Malcolm Crockett, Corey Davis, Isaac Bennett and Steve Williams.
Had Brown not chosen to transfer to Pitt over Miami in the offseason, Pitt would be left without a single running back with college experience entering this season. What’s more, Brown had a decent amount of success at Wisconsin prior to coming to Pitt.
In three years at Wisconsin, Brown totaled 1,152 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Had he been at any other school, his numbers could have been far more impressive. Wisconsin seemingly always has a strong stable of running backs, and Brown got lost in the shuffle behind other very talented runners.
He’ll now get a shot at performing in Pitt’s high-octane offense, and he’s clearly very excited. Maybe more important, he steps in with loads of experience.
“I am approaching it just like every week,” Brown said. “In the past (Wisconsin), I haven’t been the starter, but being in this game for a few years, I just know that a man could go down just like what happened, and when he goes down you still have to be ready.
“I am just looking at this week like I have done every week and be ready to go.”
One to two freshmen will step in to replace Brown as backups.
Understandably, nobody can replace Ray Graham. But if Brown can help this offense produce and this team win, we could be looking back at his short stint as starter as one of the more impressive performances in recent Pitt history.
And one that turned around a season destined for mediocrity.
“It is a great feeling (to be in contention for the Big East title), especially what we’ve been through this season,” Brown said. “To still know that everything we wanted is still in our hands. It’s great, it’s a good feeling. We can’t look in the future too much. Just look at Cincinnati and take care of business there.
“I know I’m in a rare situation. But I thank God for putting me in this situation and giving me this opportunity, and I have full confidence in myself that I am going to take advantage of it.”