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Pitt : Rossi: Given Start, It's Time for Pitt to Finish

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Rossi: Given start, it's time for Pitt to finish
By Rob Rossi
Pitt : Rossi: Given start, it's time for Pitt to finish
Paul Chryst, if he's the right coach for the job, was going to get to this point eventually. Maybe he's here a bit early, perhaps before his program is really ready. Oh, well.
It's just Chryst's tough luck that his third Pitt football team is where the ones coached by Dave Wannstedt and Walt Harris were before their tenures ended without what this program really needs: a big win, followed by a big season.
Three weeks have passed in the college football campaign. In that time, everything has changed for Pitt.
The Panthers are 3-0.
They're imperfect, overly reliant on James Conner's running and Tyler Boyd's big plays. The passing game is inconsistent. The defense, though promising, has yet to face a truly dangerous quarterback.
There's no reason to believe this is a great Pitt team.
However, this should become a great Pitt season.
Eight wins are a must. Nine should be the expectation. A spot in the ACC championship game should be the goal.
It probably was before, but now that goal is realistic.
Chryst surely will hate the idea of looking ahead, but his players did that Saturday and still came away with a convincing victory at Florida International.
Everything about that victory was good for Pitt, mostly because the Panthers would have lost the game in the past — like, last year.
There is such a thing as a “trap game.” Every college team has one on its schedule. When trapped, great teams dominate, good teams win, average teams let it come down to a play or series, and bad teams lose.
Pitt won 42-25 after trailing 16-0.
Again, good teams win when trapped by lesser opponents.
Good teams also impose their will on opponents, and Pitt has done that in each of its three wins. Conner isn't the second coming of LeSean McCoy, let alone Tony Dorsett. However, it's pretty clear that Chryst lives to run the ball, and in Conner he seems to have birthed a running back who wears out opponents.
Will that continue as the competition improves?
Well, is the competition going to dramatically improve?
Iowa is the next team tasked with stopping Pitt's ground game. Traditionally, a Big Ten program would do exactly that at Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, tradition is dead in college football. From the looks of it, so are the days when Big Ten teams were mightier than most opponents.
Pitt should be able to run against Iowa, so Pitt should beat Iowa. Get it done, something such as 27-23, and move on.
Actually, Pitt should beat its next three opponents and own a 6-0 record when Virginia Tech visits Oct. 16.
It's too early to tell if Pitt is better than Virginia Tech, but it's worth noting that the Hokies were caught in a trap Saturday, losing at home to East Carolina a week after winning at Ohio State.
It's also worth noting that Pitt's remaining opponents look a lot like the ones they used to play — and should have played better against more often — in the old Big East days.
There's Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Miami. There's also Virginia, Georgia Tech, Duke and North Carolina — or, as they look to me, the equivalents of Rutgers, West Virginia, Louisville and Connecticut from years past.
The knock on Pitt is that it has lost too many big football games since the mid-1980s. That's true, but the Panthers also won some.
What they haven't done is turn those wins into anything.
The Big East was always there for the taking. Pitt never took it.
This ACC belongs to Florida State, but the Seminoles don't play in the Coastal Division. Neither does Clemson or any team that much better than Pitt.
It's time for Pitt to finally take advantage of its so-so competition.
Maybe this is all going too fast. It's only Chryst's third season. There are depth issues. Boyd can't make every catch — or can he?
So much has to go right for Pitt.
That's exactly what happened for Duke last season, which was the first in about three decades that the Blue Devils backed up big football wins with a big football season.
Three weeks into Chryst's third season, it's not about whether Pitt can be what it was in the way, way past.
It's about becoming Duke. That wouldn't mean being a great football team, but it would be pretty good.
During the end of Dave Wannstedt's tenure as head coach, the "expectation" by the university was to win the Big East Championship every year. Anything less was a failure. That's how DUMB the leadership was. Why set the bar THAT high for a team that is starting to come out of rebuilding with Chryst? There was a bowl bid and bowl victory in 2013. Going to a bowl should be expected this season. As me point blank, and I will tell you that, too. This team is good enough to play for a bowl. As far as a conference championship is concerned, Rossi is right. Pitt needs to win the big games. The first one is this weekend at home against Iowa. We will see what the Panthers are made of. However, I do not believe this team is on the same level as Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and maybe Duke. But they are on the rise. It's good to see. I hope the winning ways continue. Pitt : Rossi: Given start, it's time for Pitt to finish

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