Through five games, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde season for the Pitt Panthers football team has unpredictable.
You never know which of Paul Chryst’s teams- the good one that beat Virginia Tech or the bad one that lost to Youngstown State- will show up on a weekly basis.
But the one consistency through five games have been countless mistakes, win or lose.
Pitt is ranked near the bottom of FBS schools in two penalty categories — 87th in number per game (7.2) and 83rd in yards lost per game (62.8) and if it’s not the penalties, it’s countless mental mistakes.
Take Friday’s loss to Syracuse for instance.
At the start of the fourth quarter with Pitt driving for the lead, guard Chris Jacobson and left tackle Corey King each took false start penalties, costing Pitt 10 yards.
Then, the Panthers were forced to punt, but they lined up in an illegal formation. Matt Yoklic’s punt went to the 10-yard line, but Pitt lost another 6 yards when forced to replay the down.
Pitt got the ball back and eventually had a first down at the Syracuse 17, simply within a 34-yard field goal of taking the lead in the final five minutes, but quarterback Tino Sunseri took an intentional grounding penalty to knock the Panthers out of field goal range, ultimately costing them the game.
Overall, on the two scoring chances, Pitt gave up three sacks totaling 18 yards and was penalized four times for a loss of 30.
That’s something that must get cleaned up as the Panthers prepare to host Louisville Saturday afternoon.
You can’t blame it on youth. Guys like Sunseri and Jacobson have been around for a long time and especially in Sunseri’s case, his tendency to fold under pressure is something that shouldn’t be tolerated any longer.
Pitt has the talent to put together a decent season and possibly head to a bowl game. But they won’t do that if they keep shooting themselves in the foot time and time again.