Pitt's Mike Shanahan scores a touchdown against Gardner-Webb's Donald Buie III in the third quarter Saturday at Heinz Field.
By Sam Werner Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pitt's offensive production in the past two games has been not only crucial in getting the team back on track after a disastrous 0-2 start, it has been record-setting as well.
In big wins against Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb, Pitt has totaled 1,163 yards in offense, a school record for back-to-back games.
"It's just good to see it come together," receiver Devin Street said. "We can run and pass. We have great athletes everywhere."
One week after upsetting then-No. 13 Virginia Tech behind 537 yards of total offense, Pitt racked up 626 yards against Gardner-Webb Saturday. The Panthers broke the previous two-game record of 1,154 yards, set in 1992 against Rutgers and Minnesota.
Against the Runnin' Bulldogs Saturday, it was time for the passing attack to take center stage. Quarterback Tino Sunseri completed 18 of 24 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
Receivers Street, Mike Shanahan and Cameron Saddler each had five catches. Saddler had just three catches in Pitt's first three games, but made some acrobatic grabs Saturday to total 82 yards.
Shanahan finished with 144 yards and two scores through the air. Street had 95 yards and a touchdown.
"I think we're all understanding our roles and where we need to be to make catches and make plays," Shanahan said.
The receiving unit is helping each other out on the field, too. In the third quarter of Saturday's game, Shanahan caught a pass down the right sideline, and Street delivered a crucial block that allowed Shanahan to get loose for a 77-yard touchdown pass.
"I told [Shanahan] I wanted to beat him in yards, so he came over today and said, 'Thanks for not being selfish,'" Street joked after the game. "So I had to spring the block and he just had a great run after the catch."
Shanahan said he felt confident the offense would turn things around after Pitt's 0-2 start, during which the Panthers averaged just 13.5 points per game. Part of that confidence stems from the approach first-year coach Paul Chryst brought to installing his offense.
"He really simplified things," Shanahan said. "We keep it pretty basic. We run a lot of the same plays. Their philosophy, our philosophy on that is just to simplify things, do what we do well. It doesn't matter if the defense knows if it's coming or not because we have things to beat it."