Archive

ShareThis Page
Pitt hopes to kick losing habit against UNC | TribLIVE.com
Pitt

Pitt hopes to kick losing habit against UNC

ptrblewitt111514
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt misses what would have been the winning field goal against Duke on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, at Heinz Field.

One day, Pitt coach Paul Chryst will turn to kicker Chris Blewitt and ask him to win a game with a field goal.

Perhaps that day is Saturday, when Pitt tries to boost its shrinking bowl hopes against North Carolina. A loss to the Tar Heels would mean the Panthers (4-5, 2-3) must defeat Syracuse at home and Miami on the road in the next two weeks to reach bowl eligibility.

Expect a close game. The teams will meet in Chapel Hill, N.C., and six Pitt road games under Chryst have been decided by three points or fewer.

If it comes down to a field goal, Chryst will have no trouble putting the season on Blewitt’s right foot.

Two weeks ago, Blewitt missed a 26-yarder on the final play of regulation in a 51-48 double-overtime loss to Duke.

“I thought there was no way I would miss it,” he said. “I wasn’t nervous or anything. It was probably me just being a little too excited.”

Chryst said he expects his sophomore kicker, who has missed only twice in 13 attempts, to be ready the next time.

“Nothing has changed,” Chryst said. “He missed a kick, but he hasn’t changed who he is. He’s been really good and he’s going to continue to be.

“If all of a sudden you change your whole approach, something is wrong. They can’t see you flinch.”

Blewitt recovered quickly from the miss, hitting a 43-yarder in the second overtime.

“The easiest thing you can do is mope around about it,” he said. “But my team needs me to perform.”

The struggling Panthers need more than Blewitt, however. Since starting the season 3-0, Pitt is 1-5, its worst six-game stretch since 2006.

North Carolina (4-5, 2-3) presents a unique problem, with its up-tempo offense — similar to what Todd Graham tried to implement at Pitt in 2011 — and mobile quarterback. Marquise Williams is second in the ACC in total offense (303 yards per game) to Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

But the Tar Heels, who have allowed 43 or more points in five games, are last in the ACC in total defense (4,593 yards).

That could be good news for Pitt, with running back James Conner (1,342 yards) involved in a two-man race with Miami’s Duke Johnson (1,213) for the ACC rushing title, and quarterback Chad Voytik improving steadily. In past three games, Voytik has connected with wide receiver Tyler Boyd 22 times for 363 yards and a touchdown.

“He see things and is aware of things now that he probably wasn’t right off the bat,” offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “It helps him in his preparation and helps him to play better and to grow.

“He’s studying it, putting it on himself to be that guy.”

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.