Pitt's line is taking the 'personal' approach
Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri is sacked by Cincinnati defensive lineman Walter Stewart in the Big East opener for both teams Thursday night in Cincinnati.
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"It's definitely personal," he said. "We're 0-2, we're coming in against a good defensive front, good defense. We're going to be as good as our front five are going to be."
Jacobson, and the rest of the offensive line, are looking to bounce back against the Hokies after a disappointing performance in a 34-10 loss Thursday to Cincinnati.
The Bearcats got pressure on quarterback Tino Sunseri early and often, with three sacks coming on Pitt's first three offensive drives.
While the offensive line is usually the unit blamed for poor pass protection, coach Paul Chryst said the responsibility flows throughout the offense. The quarterback needs to get rid of the ball quickly, receivers need to run precise routes, and backs and tight ends need to help when called upon.
"That's one of the neat things about football is that it takes all 11 guys, and that's a great example of it," Chryst said. "We all know that certain areas are lightning rods and everyone can take ownership of it. That's the great thing about football."
Still, Jacobson admitted there's plenty of room for the offensive line to improve after the first two games. Coming into the season, experience at the position was a major concern. Jacobson and center Ryan Turnley had plenty of experience, but the other three starters -- left tackle Cory King, right guard Ryan Schlieper and right tackle Matt Rotheram -- had only 15 career starts between them.
"There's no excuses," Jacobson said. "A couple of times we all missed calls, myself included. I mean, there's stuff I need to work on. The crowd noise played an effect for those guys, but they're fine. They're the hardest-working guys on the team."
Despite the disappointing result, Jacobson and Turnley said that there were some positives to take away from the Cincinnati game. Notably, Pitt's running backs ran the ball for an average of 4.9 yards per carry.
"We had some nice run plays, we had some bad ones," Turnley said. "Same thing in the passing game. We picked up some blitzes and we got beat a couple of times and we've just got to fix that."
This week, the line will be tasked with handling Virginia Tech's unique 4-2-5 defense. The Hokies have three sacks through two games, but played Georgia Tech's triple option in their opener. They rank 12th in Division I-A with 9.5 tackles for loss per game.
Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said that he will go back and look at film of Virginia Tech, which plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference, from last year. In 2011, defensive tackles Luther Maddy and Derrick Hopkins both played extensively, combining for 70 tackles.
"It's a huge challenge this week," Turnley said. "Their two D-tackles, they're big guys. Not only are they big, they're good ball players."
Now, it's time for Pitt's offensive line to prove that it can go up against the best its future conference has to offer. Turnley and Jacobson are leaders not just on the offensive line, but also on the offense as a unit. Both said they've tried to pick up some of the younger players who may be feeling the effects of Pitt's 0-2 start.
Turnley agreed with the man to his left -- it's all about making that motivation personally.
"I think it's up to each individual person to dig down and say, 'This isn't good enough for me.' "
First Published September 12, 2012 12:00 am