Units struggle to synch in wins


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A week ago, after putting up 58 points in a wild win against Duke, Pitt's offensive players took home the lion's share of the Atlantic Coast Conference's weekly positional awards.

It's safe to say they probably won't repeat the feat this week.

The Panthers beat Virginia, 14-3, Saturday but the offense struggled to build on the momentum it established the week before.

"Offensively, we struggled," coach Paul Chryst said. "We didn't really get any type of rhythm going and Virginia's a good defense."

Both of Pitt's touchdowns came after Virginia turnovers inside its own red zone. The Panthers' two scoring drives started at the Cavaliers 19 and 18.

But when they had to try to move the ball down the field, the Panthers had virtually no rushing attack, finishing with just 8 yards on 35 attempts.

Even removing quarterback sacks from the equation, the running back trio of James Conner, Isaac Bennett and Rachid Ibrahim combined for 67 yards on 24 carries, an average of 2.8 yards per carry.

Ibrahim had Pitt's longest run of 16 yards, but it didn't come until the Panthers' final drive in the fourth.

"I could've maybe ran harder, I could've gotten my shoulder down," Conner said. "It's a team effort so we'll look at it."

Part of the responsibility also falls on the offensive line, which had been a pleasant surprise through three games. The linemen didn't fare much better in pass-blocking, as quarterback Tom Savage was under pressure all day and got sacked seven times.

Entering Saturday's game, the Panthers had given up just six combined sacks.

"Certainly [Virginia does] have some speed, you notice that on some of the edge rushes," Chryst said.

Savage took such a beating that he had to leave the game with "concussion-like symptoms" in the fourth quarter. Chryst said Savage would be evaluated this week, but there was no update on his status as of Sunday.

When the final whistle sounded, though, the Panthers still got the win. They're 3-1 for the first time since 2009 and, before the end of September, are halfway to the six wins needed for bowl eligibility.

Against Duke, the game wasn't sealed until the offense converted on a late third-down pass attempt. Appropriately, the defense sealed the win against Virginia with a fourth-down stop at the Pitt 3.

"Our offense and defense won't be clicking every game -- it's football," receiver Tyler Boyd said. "I give all the credit to our defense."

A tale of two wins

The Panthers' week four victory against Virginia was a completely different offensive story from their week three victory against Duke. A look at the numbers:

vs. Duke vs. UVA

58 Points scored 14

8 Touchdowns 2

1 Field goals 0

424 Yards passed 191

174 Yards rushed 8

27 1st downs 11

36:22 Possession time 30:15

< pittsports

Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.


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