Find the Tight End, and Cover Him Like a Blanket: Pitt’s 3rd leading receiver is Hubie Graham. His comical name aside, the tight end has caught 20 passes for almost 250 yards this season with a couple of touchdowns. Those aren’t ‘drop everything and have your defense focus on him’ numbers but he should definitely be accounted for, especially considering the UC defense gave up 51 yards on only 3 catches to USF’s Evan Landi. Graham could turn longish 3rd downs into 1st downs if he’s left alone.
Graham is an oft overlooked weapon for this Panther team. He and the injured Ray Graham were the two most consistent pass catches in the Pitt games I have seen.
Pitt coach has high praise for Cincinnati QB // Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Pitt coach Todd Graham was impressed by Zach Collaros' maturity when the Cincinnati quarterback walked up and introduced himself at the Big East meetings this summer.
Pitt gave up 250 or more yards passing in four of the first five games. But in the past three, the Panthers have tightened up. The Panthers have given up only 174 yards passing to Rutgers, 127 to Utah and 202 to Connecticut -- but a large chunk against the Huskies came late in the fourth quarter when Pitt was playing mostly reserves.
In passing offense Rutgers ranks 56th, Utah 99th and UConn 84th
"We had nice focus, it was a productive week," Graham said. "But the bottom line is, we know what we are playing for, we are playing for first place in the Big East. We are playing a team that is undefeated in the conference, they are the best passing offense we will have played, the best run defense in the conference -- it is all out there, but it will be a challenge.
The blueprint for breaking the Bearcats defense has been laid out. It's no secret. Find a way to buy time for the quarterback and attempt to throw on the Bearcats secondary. The pressure placed on the back line is evident. The UC coaches know it. The Pitt coaches know it. And most assuredly, the UC DBs know it. Check that -- the UC DBs love it.
I don't love it.
Combined sacks+QB hurries > 5. Pittsburgh will be placing its hopes on the right arm of Tino Sunseri, for better or worse. UC buries the run and without RB Ray Graham, the Panthers will be without the firepower to break through. Two teams have protected the passer against the Cats: USF and Tennessee. They both threw for more than 400 yards. The rest didn't top 16 points. The Panthers rank dead last in FBS in sacks allowed (36). If Pitt can't protect Sunseri, it has no chance. None.
The University of Cincinnati’s 2011 payback tour continues here today with a stop at Heinz Field where the Bearcats hope to erase the bad feelings left over from last year’s loss to Pittsburgh.