PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Despite a painful 0-2 start, the Panthers have not only followed up with two wins, but the offense is making a huge impact on the team’s quick turnaround.
The Panthers totaled 1,163 yards in offense against Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb, a school record for back-to-back games.
Furthermore, their 55-10 rout of the Bulldogs last Saturday at Heinz Field, a stark contrast to their season-opening loss to fellow FCS foe Youngstown State, marked the most points the Panthers have scored in a game since 1999, when Pitt defeated Temple 55-24 at Pitt Stadium.
Wide receivers Mike Shanahan and Devin Street attribute the improved offensive play to three C’s: confidence, coaching, and chemistry.
“We kind of scaled back on the different plays we have been running. We’ve been running a lot of the same plays at practice, and we’ve been getting really good and comfortable with them,” Shanahan said. ”The coaches put us in a great position with game plans, and the offensive line has given Tino a lot of time.”
“C” is also for circle–as in, “semicircle”–and as far as they’re concerned, Tino Sunseri is largely responsible for this group pulling a 180.
Last year Sunseri languished under Todd Graham, throwing 11 picks against just ten touchdowns, and averaging 6.8 yards per attempt. However, the redshirt senior is suddenly flourishing under Paul Chryst; he’s bumped that last number up to 9.6 per pass, and he’s already thrown eight TD passes with only two INT’s.
“Tino looks so comfortable back there, and it reflects on us, and rubs off on us so that we’re out there confident, and he’s confident. When we’re all confident, we play so well together,” Street said. “We’re all close off the field too. We can just go out there and play, and as we play together that bond gets stronger.”
The challenge for the Panthers now becomes holding onto that new confidence and excitement they’ve captured in the past two games through the bye week.
“Some people take the week off and kick back and relax, but I want to use that to refine everything…so we don’t skip a beat and go in with some momentum to Syracuse,” Street said.
He and Shanahan also discussed what they think of their new coaches:
Next Friday’s Big East game against the Orange can be heard at 7:00 P.M. on your flagship home for Pitt football, SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan.