For six months, the focus of Pitt's offseason was on its high-profile, prime-time opener against Florida State.
Now, one week after a 41-13 loss to the Seminoles, the Panthers have turned their attention to the next team on their schedule: New Mexico.
While Pitt fans might have celebrated the Florida State game as the cornerstone of the schedule, Pitt coach Paul Chryst said his team took a more measured approach and should have no problem moving on to the Lobos this week.
"Our guys know that we have a heck of a schedule," Chryst said. "Florida State was certainly part of it, but that wasn't just the goal. We didn't go into camp and say 'this is all about Florida State.' We certainly have a lot of respect for them, but we have guys that are smart and have been around football enough to know that you better respect all of your opponents."
The Lobos might not come in with the aura or tradition of Florida State, and the kickoff time is 12:30 p.m. on WTAE (an Atlantic Coast Conference Network telecast), rather than 8 p.m. on a national ESPN broadcast, but New Mexico can still pose some challenges for the Panthers.
The Lobos average 294.0 yards per game rushing, 17th in Division I-A, and beat UTEP, 42-35, last week behind 395 yards on the ground. Running back Kasey Carrier leads Division I-A with 172.5 rushing yards per game.
Point being, New Mexico isn't Florida State, but certainly can beat Pitt if the Panthers get caught looking backward.
"Number one, we don't want to let Florida State beat us twice," guard Matt Rotheram said.
Pitt landed its 17th commitment of the 2014 class Monday when Canisius High School (Buffalo, N.Y.) running back Qadree Ollison gave his verbal pledge to Panthers.
Ollison chose the Panthers over Penn State, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Rutgers among others. He is listed as a three-star prospect on Rivals.com.
In Canisius' season-opener Friday, Ollison ran for 195 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries in a 42-15 win against McQuaid Jesuit.
Ollison is the second running back in Pitt's 2014 recruiting class, joining Shady Side Academy senior Dennis Briggs. Members of the 2014 class cannot sign their national letters of intent until Feb. 5, 2014.
In his weekly news conference Monday, Chryst praised the atmosphere at Heinz Field for the Florida State game, and said he hoped that enthusiasm would continue throughout the season.
Pitt announced the game as a sellout, with 65,000 in attendance. The student section was mostly full more than an hour before kickoff, and a pregame rain storm didn't dampen their spirits.
"It's our job to make sure that fans stay excited," Chryst said. "We appreciated it, and we're going to need all of the students. Our players were talking about the energy they felt from that. Now it's our job to pay them back for what they did. We've got to give them a bit of pride."
Depth chart update
In one notable change to Pitt's depth chart this week, cornerback Lafayette Pitts and wide receiver Tyler Boyd were listed as co-starters at the kickoff returner spot. Chryst said in-game work volume will determine who returns kicks on an in-game basis.
"We have two guys who we think are good return men but who are also playing a lot of snaps," he said. "So it also depends on what's happening in the game to decide on who goes in next."
• Game: Pitt vs. New Mexico.
• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
• Where: Heinz Field.
• TV: WTAE.
Sam Werner: email@example.com and Twitter @SWernerPG. First Published September 10, 2013 4:00 AM