Pitt Notebook: Panthers still plagued by red-zone mistakes

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Despite a hefty 17-point margin of victory, Pitt's game Saturday against Louisville was closer than it needed to be.

The Panthers, who won, 20-3, once again failed to score touchdowns in the red zone, allowing the Cardinals to hang around longer than they should have been.

Just one of four red-zone trips became a touchdown; Pitt settled for three field-goal tries -- and missed one -- for 13 points total.

For the season, the Panthers have converted 15 of 32 (47 percent) of their red-zone trips into touchdowns. That marks a significant drop from the production of last year, when Pitt converted 33 of 57 (58 percent), likely a reason that team averaged three points per game more than this one.

During his weekly news conference, coach Dave Wannstedt said the red zone is an area that needs improvement, but shifting situations make that a difficult task.

"All three trips were different," Wannstedt said of the three red-zone appearances that didn't lead to touchdowns.

"On one, we got beat on a protection and had to throw it to a checkdown receiver. We had a fumbled quarterback exchange on another on second down, and that put is in third and long, and, on the other, we had a screen we didn't get blocked properly.

"So one was a physical breakdown, another was a mental mistake and we had poor execution on the third.

"We have got to get some things cleaned up."

Romeus closer

Wannstedt said defensive end Greg Romeus (back surgery) will work out today and try to get ready to play next Thursday at Connecticut.

"The plan is for him in to come in and get started," Wannstedt said. "And see where he is at and see how he responds."

Mistake-free

Despite the red-zone issues, the Panthers played relatively mistake-free football against Louisville.

Wannstedt said the team has made a commitment to clean up penalties and protect the football, and it did both well Saturday.

"If you were to ask me what the difference in the game was," he said, "I'd say we had zero turnovers and only four penalties, and they had two turnovers and six penalties, and that is as good of a place as any to start in terms of why we were able to win the game."


Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720


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