That 6th win. That’s what the focus is. That the opponent is South Florida seems almost secondary.
“You only go to a bowl game if you achieve a certain level,” Chryst said. “That’s certainly a goal.”
In Pitt’s case, that would mean beating South Florida on Saturday night and reaching a .500 record in the regular season (6-6) for the second consecutive season.
That likely would lead to the school’s fifth bowl berth in a row, either the Pinstripe, BBVA Compass, Liberty or Beef ‘O’ Brady’s.
“There absolutely is value to it,” Chryst said. “The benefits to the program and the rewards to the players are huge.”
The tangible benefits to the players — other than the gift bags and free meals offered by bowl officials at the site — would be license to practice 15 more times.
Senior guard Chris Jacobson, who has gone to a bowl game in all but his freshman season with the Panthers in 2007, said the experience would be good for younger players who didn’t get a lot of practice time during the regular season.
“We really got after it, the younger guys, and the older guys got a break,” he said, recalling previous pre-bowl practices. “It’s kind of rough, actually. I feel bad for the younger guys,” he said, laughing.
It would be nice for the team to go to the bowl game with the same head coach they had for the first 12 games.
The whole extra practice thing is very much just a coachspeak thing. You can make the argument that with 70 teams in the various bowls, there is no real prestige to making some low-level bowl. Here’s the counter-point. With so many bowls, how bad does it look when you can’t even get the requisite number of wins to make a bowl game? How embarrassing is it to be that team?
Another goal for this game should be a decision by the coaches to make sure Ray Graham gets at least 52 yards. Let him get a 1000 yard season after everything of the last couple of years. It would also be something that the O-line could point to in terms of some success. Graham is even closer to moving to second all-time on Pitt’s career rushing leaders. Only 16 yards to reach that goal.
For all the things he’s done wrong, the one thing Sunseri hasn’t done is throw interceptions. Obviously a little luck is involved, but he deserves a fair amount of credit for getting rid of more balls in bad situations and improved throws.
As for the transferring players — Jason Frimpong and Roderick Ryles. Given the problems and injuries to the linebacking corps this year, the fact that Frimpong couldn’t get on the field probably says it all.
Ryles is a little more disappointing. He was a fairly talented safety when recruited with good size. He had offers from Michigan, WVU and Arkansas. With Holley and Taglianetti graduating and Hendricks only having a year left, it would have been assumed that he had a shot to at least make the rotation next year. Either he saw himself falling on the depth chart or he just didn’t like the situation.