Q&A: Will Bennett & Brown be factors?
Share with others:
Q: How much of a factor do you think Zach Brown and Isaac Bennett will be in tonight's game? Greg Haskins, Philadelphia ZEISE: Even though West Virginia's defense is predicated on stopping the run, teams have had some success running against the Mountaineers this year. They are giving up, on average, 135.9 yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry - so I think Pitt will have some success on the ground. Brown and Bennett are both downhill runners and that is a good thing because the best way to attack this defense is to run straight at it. I don't know that either will have a 100-yard rushing game but I think they could combine for about 150 yards on the ground and that will give the Panthers offense a chance to be successful.
Paul, I read your blog the other day with all of the tie-breakers - is it realistic to think Pitt can still win the Big East? And more importantly, should the focus be more on a bowl game and which one the Panthers could go to? Lawrence Funerbune, Clearfield, Pa. ZEISE: Well, here is the thing - if Pitt wins tonight and against Syracuse they are Big East champs no matter what happens. They will get a trophy and be declared champions. So yes, on that front. Now, the BCS berth is a different matter - Pitt obviously needs help to win that and frankly, the Panthers need to root hard for Connecticut because if Pitt wins two and UConn wins two, Pitt wins it all. But if Rutgers beats Connecticut on Saturday, it is over for Pitt - the Panthers can't win the BCS berth because they really aren't in good position with tie-breakers if Rutgers is involved (Rutgers season is over Saturday so if they win, they clinch a share of the Big East). So Pitt has some work to do and needs some good fortune. As for bowl positioning - it is all going to come down to how many bowl eligible teams the Big East has and who wins the conference. If it is WVU (that wins it) - Pitt will likely end up either in St. Pete or Birmingham. If it is Cincy (that wins it) - Pitt could very well end up in Birmingham again. The bowl thing will play out as it alway does and that actually won't come into focus until we see who wins the league and what happens with Notre Dame. Of course, that assumes Pitt will get a sixth win.....
Last year you did a matchup of Pitt versus West Virginia and you said the quarterbacks were virtually equal - do you care to amend that assessment? Harold Franklin, Fairmont, W.Va. ZEISE: Well, last year Tino Sunseri and Geno Smith were first-year starters and closer to playing at a similar level than they are this year but clearly Smith has made much bigger step forward in his second year than Sunseri has. Smith clearly has the edge in this game but Sunseri has improved as the season has gone on and the biggest thing with him is he needs to play within himself - when he has done that, he has been very effective. Obviously Smith's numbers are far more impressive and he has been more consistent, so yes, I will concede Smith has a fairly significant edge THIS YEAR. But last year he was erratic and inconsistent as a first-year starter and that's when that particular discussion was relevant.
First Published November 25, 2011 12:00 am