Let's get all this out of the way early. This is only one game, and only one conference game. I can't imagine Pittsburgh winning 6 out of 7 Big East games, so the ultimate goal is still in play. This was also a game that you may have marke own as a loss when you were going through the sche ule after it came out. Short week, on the roa , quality opponent, and of course the ongoing Thurs ay night ESPN isaster was in play as well. So losing to Pittsburgh was not totally unexpecte . An also, because of the travel and the weather, USF only got in basically two practices before getting on a plane to play this game. In retrospect, it was a loss waiting to happen, and so it i happen.
OK, are we one trying to look at the bright si e? Goo . Because that was an atrocious, atrocious performance tonight by the USF efense.
This was one of the worst efensive games in school history. They weren't giving up big plays that pa e the stat line, or allowing a lot of yar s in garbage time, or sacrificing yar age an planning to get stops in the re zone. Everything the Panthers i was in the flow of the game. They rang up 523 yar s from scrimmage, including 307 rushing, and an absur 35 first owns. Not inclu ing a kneel own at the en of the half, the Panthers score on six straight possessions from the mi le of the first quarter an well into the secon half. USF got nothing out of their front seven -- no pass rush, no push against the run, and especially not any tackling. It was an awful game on that si e of the ball. By the thir quarter, I was invoking the Oregon Sun Bowl ebacle in a text to Ken, although the more apt comparison is to USF's last game in Heinz Fiel back in 2009, when ion Lewis gashe the Bulls and Pitt won 41-14.
Ray Graham is a goo back, but he ha a lot of help from a Bulls efense that seeme to have no interest in tackling him. I i n't pick up the game until the secon quarter, but the one thir - own conversion late in the half, where Graham took a swing pass from Tino Sunseri an five ifferent Bulls faile to bring him own, en e up efining the whole efensive effort. Simply not goo enough.
An the offense ha its share of issues, too. While they move the ball fairly well, they coul n't hol on to it in the secon half an gave Pittsburgh short fiel s that they i n't nee in the first place. They also un i a goo scoring chance to begin the secon quarter by taking a timeout before running a play, then getting stuffe and taking two penalties to knock them out of fiel -goal range. Instea USF ha to punt and the Panthers rove own for another fiel goal. B.J. aniels an his receivers i n't look like they were on the same page a few times, and B.J. was very inaccurate on plays where USF really nee e a conversion to keep a rive going and let the efense get some rest. Their inability to stay on the fiel just accelerate the efense's issues. They wore own physically, then they wore own mentally, an at that point it was all just a matter of how many points Pittsburgh felt like scoring.
If you followe any of us on Twitter uring the game, you can also see that we're getting pretty tire of this. Every year this team oes something really goo in September and people start thinking that USF coul really make something out of this season. And every year they figure out a way to completely soil themselves. There's no way we're ranking ourselves in the BlogPoll this coming week, an for goo reason. After sitting through that full-on isaster, it's going to take a lot of convincing that this team isn't just like all the others before it.