The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

October 14, 2013

Panthers struggling to protect Savage

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst knows it’s easy to point the finger at his team’s embattled offensive line after it allowed quarterback Tom Savage to get knocked around for a second straight game.

Chryst also thinks it would be a little misguided. Considering the Panthers are allowing 4.20 sacks per game – more than all but three teams in the country – there’s plenty of blame to go around.

“It’s wrong to put this all on the offensive line,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of making plays. That changes games. Maybe it’s running the football or making a catch to get a little bit of momentum. There are a lot of things to it.

“We’ve got to own it and get better.”

The Panthers (3-2) certainly have to do get better if they want to get serious about making a run. Two weeks ago, Savage was sacked seven times and knocked out of the game with a concussion in a win over Virginia. He was then taken down eight times in a 19-9 loss to Virginia Tech, though Hokies coach Frank Beamer believes his team could have had at least eight more.

He’s probably right. Savage narrowly escaped a handful of sacks in the fourth quarter alone as he tried to spearhead a late rally. It never really materialized as Pitt let an opportunity to establish itself as a legitimate threat in the ACC Coastal Division evaporate.

While allowing the line – which features three new starters – could use some work, it’s hardly alone. Wide receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd were manhandled at times by an aggressive Virginia Tech secondary. The physical play disrupted the timing of the receivers’ routes, forcing Savage to hold onto the ball longer than Chryst would like.

Even Savage isn’t above reproach. While praising his quarterback for standing in the pocket in an attempt to make a play, Chryst would prefer Savage to recognize when it’s better to just throw it away rather than take an unnecessary hit.

“Sometimes it’s hard to concede that you don’t have it and throw it out of bounds,” Chryst said.

A more consistent running game would help too. Isaac Bennett, Rachid Ibrahim and James Conner managed just 49 yards on 14 carries, with Conner leaving early due to a shoulder injury. The inability to generate anything on the ground forced Pitt into too many long-yardage situations on third down, allowing the Hokies to attack relentlessly.

“When you run the ball inconsistently, then you try to get it going through the air and sometimes take a sack,” Chryst said. “We’ve just got to play better on offense. We can sit there and talk all we want, but we’ve just got to play better.”

Pitt takes a break from ACC play over the next two weeks. They face FCS opponent Old Dominion (4-2) on Saturday before traveling to Navy. Don’t expect the Panthers to overlook The Monarchs a year after getting stunned by Youngstown State in Chryst’s head coaching debut.

“I hope we’re making progress (in that department),” Chryst said. “We’re going to find out.”

–––

Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • aaaba 0721 Martella’s sweeps past Delweld

    A six-run rally in the first helped guide Martella’s Pharmacy to an 8-1 win over Delweld in Game 3 of their best-of-5 AAABA League semifinal series at Point Stadium, sweeping the series in the process.
    That rally also continued season-long trends for the clubs, according to their respective managers.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • warshel_0721 Warshel selecting UPJ

    For Kelci Warshel, the call to attend Pitt-Johnstown was based on the availability of her desired major – nursing.
    Taking an opportunity to join the university’s women’s track and field program was a very nice add-on and one that the Richland High graduate is ready to jump into ...
    ... Or hurdle over.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0721 Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pitt picked sixth in cluttered Coastal

    Florida State was an obvious choice as a favorite in one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s divisions.
    In the other one, the pecking order was nowhere near that clear.

    July 21, 2014

  • Local Sports Briefs

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Bedford gets past Clearfield

    Bedford’s Jake Stover had two hits with double and three RBIs in a 9-6 win against host Clearfield in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • American Legion Region 7: Claysburg edges Beech Creek

    Claysburg’s Mike Mock went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run in the fourth inning to help his squad get by Beech Creek 7-6 during Sunday’s winners-bracket game in the Pa. American Legion Region 7 Tournament.

    July 21, 2014

  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • LAG 0720 AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing

    Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes

    Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
    But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.

    July 20, 2014