Originally written on Pitt Blather  |  Last updated 11/15/14

I cannot think of a season where I have been so distracted almost every week by other issues in college football. Then it is Saturday and gametime. The brief respite from everything else.

Ryan Turnley. Dude.

…center Ryan Turnley, who has plantar fasciitis in both feet.

The condition is defined as acute inflammation of a thick band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that often results from overuse. Rest usually provides the best relief.

Turnley’s feet hurt so bad that he hasn’t practiced in the days leading up to the past three games, but there is never a question that he will play.

“It makes everybody else kind of suck it up,” quarterback Tino Sunseri said. “If they get hit, they look at Turnley and keep moving forward.”

Turnley, a redshirt junior, said when the game begins, he forgets about the pain.

“I just go out there and put it out of your mind for a couple of hours and get some treatment during the week,” he said.

So glad he has a high tolerance for pain. The back-up center is listed as Greg Gaskins — presently the starting left tackle. Gaskins is also listed as the back-up at right tackle. Basically, if Lucas Nix is out for another game, that leaves Juantez Hollins as the only non-starter on the O-line depth chart.


Max Gruder has a broken finger, cast on the hand and still playing.

Lucas Nix, as usual, gametime decision.

Ejuan Price has been struggling to get more playing time, while LaQuentin Smith has started to see more.

Whether still hoping to limp to some sort of Big East title or just make a bowl, it hasn’t been the easiest season of transition.

Graham said that playing in a bowl game is an important goal and one he hopes the players embrace because the seniors deserve a chance to play in the postseason.

Graham, in his first year at Pitt, said the senior class gets the short end of a coaching transition and he appreciates the way this group of seniors has supported him and the new coaching staff, as well as given him their maximum effort every game.

“This a special bunch of seniors and when I came here I really reached out to them. I told them about what our commitment was and we have showed that to them,” Graham said Monday at his weekly news conference. “We burned Isaac Bennett’s redshirt because we want an opportunity to win now. We are committed to that and they have been committed to me. They are a great bunch of young men and they don’t get the chance to have another senior year.

“I will probably get another shot next year. But my heart goes out to them because 4-5 is not where I wanted to be. I don’t believe we are a 4-5-football team. As long as I am leading we are going to focus on winning championships. Our [main] goal is not to go to a bowl game, but we want to do that for our seniors. Whatever we can do to make their experience the best one then that will be our focus.”

Three of the losses were by four points or less. The Utah game was far closer than the final score said. Even the Rutgers debacle was still tight for most of the game. Just not finishing games this year.

All of the games had the same troubling characteristics — lack of execution, critical mistakes and an inability to perform routine plays under pressure, not to mention some questionable decisions by the coaching staff.

There is another element common to all four defeats: Pitt had a third-quarter lead and could not hold it.

I blame Sweet Caroline.

Paul Zeise thinks it is much more mental than anything else.

Once again, the Panthers had a chance to be great and were too afraid to reach out and embrace that. I know this sounds way over the top but I really believe this team is conditioned to believe it is supposed to lose close games and tight games and until that mentality is changed, until that culture of “woe is us, we’re destined to lose” is changed this will continue to happen.

I’ll quote Uconn women’s coach Geno Auriemma here — “It is easy to be good, for the most part all you have to do is show up. It is hard to be great and it is even harder to find players who truly want to be great.”

Bottom line — Pitt’s mediocrity over the past few years has become a self-fulfilling prophecy and this team puckers up every single time it has a chance to do something special — like finish a win at Iowa, like finish a win against Notre Dame, like finish a win against Utah and like finishing a win against Cincinnati.

If Pitt had reached out and finished those games, the Panthers would be 8-1 and in first place in the Big East and likely ranked — and considering they were right there to win those games and couldn’t so the idea that they were over matched and out manned is not accurate by any measure -  instead they are 4-5 and not only are they not going to win the Big East, they are a longshot to even get to a bowl game at this point.

Not sure that he isn’t conflating the “woe is us” stuff with the fans than the players. Hate to think we are rubbing off on them. Still, I suppose it can be a little self-fulfilling. Especially after the first couple times it happened.

So, yeah. Louisville at noon. Locally it will be on WTAE at noon. It’s the syndicated “Big East Game of the Week.” Elsewhere it will be shown on SNY, MASN and other stations in Pennsylvania and places. Not sure if it will be a liveblog or open thread. That is still a TBA.


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