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2008 Pittsburgh Panthers football team

 

2008 Pittsburgh Panthers football team

2008 Pittsburgh Panthers football
Conference Big East
2008 record 9–4 (5–2 Big East)
Head coach Dave Wannstedt (4th year)
Offensive scheme Pro Style
Base defense 4–3
Home stadium Heinz Field
(Capacity: 65,050)
2008 Big East football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
#17 Cincinnati $   6 1         11 3  
Pittsburgh   5 2         9 4  
#23 West Virginia   5 2         9 4  
Rutgers   5 2         8 5  
Connecticut   3 4         8 5  
South Florida   2 5         8 5  
Louisville   1 6         5 7  
Syracuse   1 6         3 9  
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
Rankings from AP Poll

The 2008 Pittsburgh Panthers football team represented the University of Pittsburgh in the 2008 college football season. The season was the fourth under head coach Dave Wannstedt, who was looking to achieve his first winning season with the Panthers. The 2008 season marked the team's eighth at Heinz Field and the University's 119th season.

The Panthers started the 2008 season with new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. Ranked in the top 25 for the second time under Wannstedt's leadership, Pitt suffered an early and surprising setback in the opening game against Bowling Green. Pitt rebounded to defeat Buffalo and then Iowa by a score of 21–20. The winning continued when the Panthers upset undefeated and tenth ranked South Florida in a game nationally televised by ESPN. A win at Navy preceded a home upset to Rutgers, Pitt's fourth consecutive loss to the Scarlet Knights. However, Pitt rebounded the following week at Notre Dame with a 36-33 four-overtime victory over the Irish, the longest game ever for both Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. After a 41–7 rout of visiting Louisville, the Panthers improved to 7–2, were bowl-bound for the first time under Wannstedt, and were in contention for a Big East Championship and a BCS bowl bid. However, a loss at Cincinnati in the River City Rivalry eliminated the Panthers from championship contention. Pitt rallied to defeat archrival West Virginia 19-15 on the Friday after Thanksgiving in a nationally televised game on ABC for its second consecutive win in the Backyard Brawl. The following week the Panthers won at UConn to improve to 9-3 and clinched a bid to the Sun Bowl, the first bowl bid under Wannstedt. Pitt lost 3-0 to Oregon State, a team that had previously defeated USC. It was the first time Pitt was held scoreless in twelve years.

Contents

  • Previous season 1
  • Preseason 2
    • Recruits 2.1
    • Spring Practices 2.2
    • Award Watchlists 2.3
  • Roster 3
  • Rankings 4
  • Schedule 5
  • Game notes 6
    • Bowling Green 6.1
    • Buffalo 6.2
    • Iowa 6.3
    • Syracuse 6.4
    • USF 6.5
    • Navy 6.6
    • Rutgers 6.7
    • Notre Dame 6.8
    • Louisville 6.9
    • Cincinnati 6.10
    • West Virginia 6.11
    • Connecticut 6.12
    • Oregon State (2008 Sun Bowl) 6.13
  • Coaching staff 7
  • Team players drafted into the NFL 8
  • Statistics 9
    • Team 9.1
    • Scores by quarter 9.2
    • Individual 9.3
      • Rushing 9.3.1
      • Passing 9.3.2
      • Receiving 9.3.3
  • Award winners 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Previous season

The Panthers finished with a disappointing 5-7 record in the 2007 season. Rarely though does a losing record leave fans filled with satisfaction and optimism, but that was the case in 2007. It was the third season under the direction of Head Coach Dave Wannstedt. It was also the third consecutive season without a postseason bowl game. The Panthers schedule included six home games and six road games. The schedule was generally viewed as unappealing, lacking any marquee matchups at home.[1][2] The Panthers appeared on national television on a Wednesday night, October 10, with a 48-45 2OT loss to Navy that ended when Pitt failed to convert on a two-point conversion.[3] For Homecoming 2007 Pitt hosted #23 Cincinnati, defeating the Bearcats 24-17.[4] The final game of the season on December 1 saw the Panthers visit #2 West Virginia. In this game, the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl, the Panthers defeated the Mountaineers, 13-9, to gain their first road victory of the season and, more importantly, eliminate West Virginia from the National Championship race in one of the most memorable games of the entire 2007 college football season.[5][6][7][8]

Preseason

Recruits

Head Coach Dave Wannstedt signed the top recruiting class in the Big East, his 3rd consecutive top-25 recruiting class, to kick off the 2008 football year.[9] Although Wannstedt had been recruiting well since the beginning of his tenure at Pitt some of that 2008 recruiting power has been attributed to the Panthers' season finale win over West Virginia.[8][10] The highlights of the class are projected to be WR Jonathan Baldwin, RB Chris Burns, OT Lucas Nix, LB Shayne Hale, and athlete Cameron Saddler.[9][10]

Spring Practices

Throughout spring practices the defense dominated the offense, but in the annual Blue-Gold Game on April 19 at Heinz Field, the offense got the better of the defense, winning 60-25 under a modified scoring system that favored the offense.[11][12] The rising stars of the spring practices were defensive tackle Mick Williams, wide receiver Cedric McGee, and newly converted tight end Dorin Dickerson, who all earned the Ed Conway Award given to Pitt's most improved players at spring practices. Other important spring performances included Bill Stull, who re-established himself as the team's top quarterback, and John Malecki, a two-time letterman on defense at nose tackle who earned a starting spot on the offensive line at guard.[12] The Blue-Gold Game was simulcast live locally in Pittsburgh on WPCW and nationally on the NFL Network.[13]

Award Watchlists

Several players on the Panthers have been nominated to various award preseason watchlists.

Roster

Rankings

Pitt began the season ranked at #25 in the AP Poll. It was the Panthers first appearance in any major polling service since 2005 and first preseason ranking since 2003.[31]
Ranking Movement
Legend: ██ Improvement in ranking. ██ Decrease in ranking. ██ Not ranked the previous week. rv=Others receiving votes.
Poll Pre Wk 1 Wk 2 Wk 3 Wk 4 Wk 5 Wk 6 Wk 7 Wk 8 Wk 9 Wk 10 Wk 11 Wk 12 Wk 13 Wk 14 Wk 15 Final
AP 25 -- -- -- -- -- 24 23 17 rv 25 21 20 rv 23 18 rv
Coaches rv -- -- -- -- -- rv rv 20 rv rv 21 19 rv 23 21 rv
Harris Not releasedA -- rv 25 18 rv rv 21 19 25 23 19 n/a
BCS Not releasedB 17 -- -- 21 20 25 23 20 n/a
Notes
  • A The first Harris Interactive Poll is released after the fifth week of games, and the final Harris Interactive Poll is released prior to bowl season at the conclusion of the regular season.
  • B The first BCS Ranking is released after the eighth week of games, and the final ranking is released prior to bowl season at the conclusion of the regular season. Only the rankings for the top 25 teams are released.

Schedule

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
Sat. Aug. 30 12:00 p.m. Bowling Green* #25 Heinz FieldPittsburgh, PA ESPNU L 17–27   45,063
Sat. Sep. 6 6:00 p.m. Buffalo* Heinz Field • Pittsburgh, PA ESPN GamePlan W 26–17   42,494
Sat. Sep. 20 12:00 p.m. Iowa* Heinz Field • Pittsburgh, PA ESPN2 W 21–20   50,321
Sat. Sep. 27 12:00 p.m. at Syracuse Carrier DomeSyracuse, NY (Rivalry) ESPN+ W 34–24   27,549
Thu. Oct. 2 7:30 p.m. at #10 South Florida Raymond James StadiumTampa, FL ESPN W 26–21   50,307
Sat. Oct. 18 3:30 p.m. at Navy* #23 Navy-Marine Corps Memorial StadiumAnnapolis, MD CBSCS W 42–21   37,970
Sat. Oct. 25 3:30 p.m. Rutgersdagger #17 Heinz Field • Pittsburgh, PA ESPN360 L 34–54   51,161
Sat. Nov. 1 2:30 p.m. at Notre Dame* Notre Dame StadiumSouth Bend, IN (Rivalry) NBC W 36–33 4OT  80,795
Sat. Nov. 8 12:00 p.m. Louisville #25 Heinz Field • Pittsburgh, PA ESPN+ W 41–7   44,055
Sat. Nov. 22 7:15 p.m. at #19 Cincinnati #20 Nippert StadiumCincinnati, OH (River City Rivalry) ESPN2 L 21–28   35,098
Fri. Nov. 28 12:00 p.m. West Virginia Heinz Field • Pittsburgh, PA (Backyard Brawl) ABC W 19–15   63,019
Sat. Dec. 6 12:00 p.m. at Connecticut #23 Rentschler FieldEast Hartford, CT ESPN W 34–10   39,535[32]
Wed. Dec. 31 2:00 p.m. vs. #24 Oregon State* #18 Sun Bowl StadiumEl Paso, TX (Sun Bowl) CBS L 0–3   49,037
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

Game notes

Bowling Green

1 2 3 4 Total
Falcons 0 14 6 7 27
Panthers 7 10 0 0 17

The Panthers entered the season in the preseason rankings for the first time since 2005,[31] but their stay didn't last long as they were upset at home by the Falcons. The Panthers, who outgained the Falcons 393-254 on the day, jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first half as they outgained Bowling Green 137-6 in the first quarter.[33] After falling behind early the Falcons rallied and took advantage of four costly Pitt turnovers. The Falcons keyed on Panther tailback LeSean McCoy, who fumbled once and was held to 71 yards on 23 carries.[33] The Panthers defense was repeatedly befuddled by some of the odd formations that the Falcons used on offense, such utilizing an imbalanced offensive line or lining up a wide receiver at the quarterback position.[33] However, the following year, defensive coordinator Phil Bennett praised head coach Dave Wannstedt for the way he handled the defeat, saying, "I told many people this: I've seen a lot of head coaches where the whole thing would have toppled after a game like that. I thought the way he handled it – his demeanor not just with the players but with the coaches – was phenomenal."[34] (Game report)

Buffalo

1 2 3 4 Total
Bulls 6 3 7 0 16
Panthers 0 10 7 10 27
The Panthers, facing a MAC foe for the second straight game, withstood an early charge by the Bulls, taking the lead in the 2nd quarter and holding off Buffalo every time they made a move.[35] LeSean McCoy scored all three touchdowns for the Panthers, scoring on runs of three, one, and two yards.[36] (Game report)

Iowa

1 2 3 4 Total
Hawkeyes 3 7 7 3 20
Panthers 7 7 0 7 21
Pitt went into the Iowa game looking to make a positive statement for themselves against a quality program as well as wipe away some of the stigma attached to themselves due to their earlier loss to Bowling Green.[37] The game was billed as a showdown of two top running backs, Pitt's LeSean McCoy and Iowa's Shonn Greene.[38] Pitt men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon provided a motivational speech for the football team two days before the game against the Hawkeyes in which he described a potential win over Iowa as a "program-building" victory that could help put the Panthers back onto the national radar, propelling them to new heights of success.[38][39] The Panthers jumped out to an early 14–3 lead when two Pitt quarterbacks, Bill Stull and Gregg Cross, each ran a called draw in for a touchdown in the first half.[38] Greg Cross, an athletic, change-of-pace, junior college transfer quarterback, made his Panthers debut, scoring a touchdown on a 17-yard scramble in his first play as a Panther.[40] The Panthers offense struggled greatly after taking the lead in the second quarter.[41] However, Pitt's defensive line dominated Iowa's offensive line in the fourth quarter as the well-conditioned yet undersized Panthers outlasted the Hawkeyes.[39][42] The Panthers' depth on the defensive line also played a role as they were able to rotate nine defensive linemen throughout the game.[42] Coach Wannstedt and his staff were noticeably more aggressive in their play-calling; all three Panthers touchdowns resulted from an offensive drive that included a fourth-down conversion.[40] Although the victory was a big one for the team, the offense still showed great inconsistency and need for improvement.[41] Punter Dave Brytus and linkbacker Scott McKillop were named the Big East Player of the Week for special teams and defense, respectively, following their performances against Iowa.[43] Brytus punted eight times for an average of 47.8 yards, including a longest of sixty yards, one touchback, and one downed inside the twenty. McKillop, who broke his nose on a tackle of Shonn Greene when his nose was crushed by his own facemask,[44] finished with ten tackles, including six solo tackles, two and a half tackles for a loss of nine yards, and one sack. (Game report)

Syracuse

1 2 3 4 Total
Panthers 3 10 3 18 34
Orange 14 3 7 0 24

(Game report)

USF

1 2 3 4 Total
Panthers 7 10 0 9 26
Bulls 7 0 7 7 21

(Game report)

Navy

1 2 3 4 Total
Panthers 21 14 0 7 42
Midshipmen 7 7 0 7 21

(Game report)

Rutgers

1 2 3 4 Total
Scarlet Knights 14 20 14 6 54
Panthers 7 17 7 3 34

(Game report)

Notre Dame

1 2 3 4 OT 2OT 3OT 4OT Total
Panthers 3 0 7 14 3 3 3 3 36
Fighting Irish 3 14 0 7 3 3 3 0 33

The Panthers came away with a 36-33, four-overtime victory after falling behind Notre Dame by two touchdowns, 17-3, at halftime.[45] Conor Lee made the game-winning field goal, one of four overtime fields goals, during his perfect, 5-for-5 day to help lead the Panthers. His five field goals and 18 points are both Pitt records for a kicker; he also extended his school record of consecutive extra points without a miss to 100.[46] LeSean McCoy lead the way on offense with 32 rushing attempts for 169 yards, his 5th straight 100-yard game, and one touchdown as he surpassed 1,000 yards rushing for the season; he also had two catches for 23 yards. The Panthers fell behind in the first half when Notre Dame controlled the clock and took advantage of poor play by Pitt on offense. Quarterbacks Kevan Smith and Pat Bostick, who were playing in place of the injured started Bill Stull, who suffered a concussion in the previous game, were ineffective in the first half, and the running game couldn't get going as McCoy had only 5 yards on 3 carries. In total, the offense only had 71 yards and five first downs in the entire first half.[47] The offense got back on track in the 2nd half as the Panthers scored 10 straight points to tie the game at 17. The Panthers first possession of the 3rd quarter went eight plays and 71 yards, including a converted fourth-and-one pass that Oderick Turner turned into a 37-yard gain. The Panthers next touchdown came on a 15-play, 70-yard drive that used 8:28 of time during the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarters. Pat Bostick, although he was intercepted three times in the game, persevered and stepped up his play in the second half, leading the Panthers on three critical scoring drives.[47] After the game Bostick, speaking of his own performance, said, ""I came out and made some mistakes out there, forced a couple of things, made a couple of plays. We made enough plays to win though and this was a total team win... But the bottom line is we are here to win a football game and when you throw picks, it is not about you, you can't say 'Woe is me.' It is all about, 'What do I have to do on the next drive to take this team down the field to win the game?'"[47] The Panthers defense, led again by linebacker Scott McKillop with 15 tackles, played significantly better than in the week before, allowing only one big play versus the Irish's offense, a 47-yard pass from Jimmy Clausen to Golden Tate.[46] They also held Notre Dame to only 146 yards in the second half and all four overtimes,[46] including just seven yards on three three-and-out possessions in the third quarter.[48] (Game report)

Louisville

1 2 3 4 Total
Cardinals 0 0 7 0 7
Panthers 10 7 3 21 41

(Game report)

Cincinnati

1 2 3 4 Total
Panthers 7 0 0 14 21
Bearcats 0 14 7 7 28

(Game report)

West Virginia

1 2 3 4 Total
Mountaineers 0 3 9 3 15
Panthers 7 0 0 12 19

(Game report)

Connecticut

1 2 3 4 Total
Panthers 0 3 24 7 34
Huskies 0 3 7 0 10

(Game report)

Oregon State (2008 Sun Bowl)

1 2 3 4 Total
Beavers 0 3 0 0 3
Panthers 0 0 0 0 0

(Game report)

Coaching staff

Team players drafted into the NFL

Player Position Round Pick NFL Club
LeSean McCoy Running Back 2 53 Philadelphia Eagles
Scott McKillop Linebacker 5 146 San Francisco 49ers
LaRod Stephens-Howling Running Back 7 240 Arizona Cardinals
Derek Kinder Wide Receiver 7 251 Chicago Bears
[49]

Statistics

Regular season totals [1]

Team

Pitt Opp
Scoring 352 276
Points/game 29.3 23.0
Total offense 4274 3850
Yards/game 356.2 320.8
Rushing attempts - yards 455 - 1719 421 - 1534
Passing attempts - yards 353 - 2555 353 - 2316
Fumbles - lost 21 - 12 17 - 7
Penalties - yards 55 - 425 66 - 576
Time of possession/game 31:32 28:28
3rd down conversions 61/166 (37%) 61/170 (36%)
4th down conversions 13/18 (72%) 7/18 (39%)
Touchdowns, total 42 35
Touchdowns, rushing 29 14
Touchdowns, passing 10 19
Touchdowns, other 3 0
Punts - yards/punt 53 - 39.5 62 - 40.0
Field goals/attempts 20/23 12/18
PAT/attempts 38/38 30/34

Scores by quarter

1 2 3 4 OT Total
Pitt 79 88 51 122 12 352
Opponents 54 88 78 47 9 276

Individual

Rushing

Minimum five attempts or one touchdown
Name GP Att Yds Avg TD Long Yds/game
McCoy 12 284 1403 4.9 21 58 116.9
Stephens-Howling 12 70 283 4.0 5 27 23.6
Collins 12 21 85 4.0 0 25 7.1
Wright 12 5 34 6.8 1 20 2.8
Harris 12 12 21 1.8 0 4 1.8
Cross 2 4 15 3.8 1 17 7.5
Bostick 5 5 -27 -5.4 0 1 -5.4
Stull 11 32 -122 -3.8 1 11 -11.1
TOTAL 12 455 1719 3.8 29 58 143.2
OPPONENTS 12 421 1534 3.6 14 57 127.8

Passing

Name GP Rating Comp Att Int % Yds TD Long Yds/game
Stull 11 126.22 181 306 9 59.2 2304 9 64 209.5
Bostick 5 91.77 20 38 4 52.6 233 1 37 46.6
Smith 1 44.53 65 3 0 33.3 4 0 4 4.0
McCoy 12 108.80 1 2 0 50.0 14 0 14 1.2
Janocko 12 0.00 0 1 0 0.0 0 0 0 0.0
Brytus 12 100.00 1 1 0 100.0 0 0 0 0.0
TOTAL 12 120.57 204 353 13 57.8 2555 10 64 212.9
OPPONENTS 12 119.90 194 353 14 55.0 2316 19 79 193.0

Receiving

Name GP Catches Yds Avg TD Long Yds/game
Kinder 12 35 410 11.7 3 61 34.2
McCoy 12 31 299 9.6 0 34 24.9
Porter 12 24 352 14.7 0 64 29.3
McGee 12 22 190 8.6 0 17 15.8
Turner 12 21 298 14.2 1 38 24.8
Baldwin 12 18 404 22.4 3 60 33.7
Byham 12 18 250 13.9 1 34 20.8
Dickerson 12 11 137 12.5 2 41 11.4
Stephens-Howling 12 10 101 10.1 0 16 8.4
Collins 12 9 77 8.6 0 18 6.4
Pelusi 12 5 37 7.4 0 15 3.1
TOTAL 12 204 2555 12.5 10 64 212.9
OPPONENTS 12 194 2316 11.9 19 79 193.0

Award winners

References

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b
  32. ^ http://www.uconnhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/2008-2009/teamcume.html
  33. ^ a b c
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ a b c
  39. ^ a b
  40. ^ a b
  41. ^ a b
  42. ^ a b
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ a b c
  47. ^ a b c
  48. ^
  49. ^ http://www.pro-football-reference.com/draft/2009.htm
  50. ^ a b c d e f g h
  51. ^
  52. ^

External links

  • 2008 Pitt football archive
  • 2008 Cumulative Season Statistics
  • 2008 Pitt Football Media Guide
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