PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst insists the Panthers are making progress.
Maybe, but at the moment the program appears on a treadmill of mediocrity it can’t seem to shake.
Early mistakes doomed Pitt in a 41-31 loss to Miami on Friday, a defeat that left the Panthers (6-6, 3-5 ACC) with a third straight .500 regular season and showcased the gap between Pitt and the conference’s elite remains significant.
“I didn’t see anybody not giving good effort,” Chryst said. “We didn’t play smart … I think it was more execution and our mental errors than it was our effort.”
Senior quarterback Tom Savage completed 24 of 43 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Freshman wide receiver Tyler Boyd caught nine passes for 98 yards and a score while setting a school record for receptions by a freshman. Boyd now has 77 catches for 1,001 yards.
Boyd remains a promising part of Pitt’s future. The present, however, remains muddled. The Panthers are 18-18 in the regular season since forcing out Dave Wannstedt three years ago.
Any chance to end the school’s first season in the new-look ACC with some momentum vanished quickly. Pitt fumbled the opening kickoff, had a punt partially blocked and allowed Miami’s Stacy Coley to catch a pair of touchdowns from Stephen Morris before the game was 4 minutes old.
“It’s hard to beat a good team like Miami with all the mistakes that we made today,” Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “You just can’t win games like that. We didn’t get down, and we came out the second half fighting. But we just couldn’t do it.”
Coley later added a zig-zagging 73-yard touchdown run for the Hurricanes (9-3, 5-3 ACC), who kept their hopes for an ACC Coastal Division title alive. Allen Hurns caught nine passes for 173 yards Miami, which has won eight straight and 16 of the last 17 meetings with Pitt.
Most of those wins came when the teams were still rivals in the Big East.
Switching conferences, however, has done little to change the result.
Even the conditions failed to deter Miami. Several Hurricanes warmed up without a shirt on, a symbolic gesture meant to show they weren’t going to let something like a little 33-degree chill bother them.