When the sun finally began to shine on Heinz Field late in the first quarter of their home opener on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Panthers had opened up a 21-point lead over the Delaware Blue Hens. It wasn’t a quiet 21 points either, rather an explosive offensive onslaught complemented by a mean showing from the defense. James Connor powered into the end zone with the opening touchdown. Chad Voytik flashed his ability to find Tyler Boyd with a great lead pass that Boyd dove to grab in the end zone for the second score of the day. Connor would go on to score three more times on the day before being replaced by several backs, including freshman Chris James.
An expected force out of training camp, the offensive line exhibited their strength throughout the day. The most notable play came from the Panther’s 1-yard line. On a QB keeper, the O-Line pushed the Blue Hens back nine yards, giving the home team some room to work. The offense never slowed down, even when they tried to throttle themselves, the team still managed to find the end zone, finishing with a total of 7 touchdowns and 409 rushing yards.
That only tells half of the story of the game, the other half being the impressive showing of the defense. The Blue Hens only managed to drive past midfield twice and never entered the red zone. On their one threatening drive towards the Panther’s end zone, Todd Thomas intercepted a pass on the 1-yard line. That would be the second of three picks for the defense, with two coming from the linebacker position.
While it would be easy to dismiss the offensive and defensive accomplishments of the Panthers due to the FCS level of Delaware, it should be considered that Pitt fluctuates in it’s ability to play well against lesser foes. Two years ago, the team lost it’s opener to FCS Youngstown State while competing into overtime against eventual BCS runner-up Notre Dame. To see the team rolling on all cylinders to the sound of a 62-0 victory right out of the gate is encouraging and should build confidence among the players and the fan base. Next up, Boston College on Friday night.