Pitt football wastes opportunity

PITTSBURGH – There was a big build-up for Pitt’s ACC opener against Florida State, along with a national TV audience and a big crowd at Heinz Field.

But as things turned out, it wasn’t much of a football game.

Pitt had an impressive first quarter, but fell apart after that and was on the wrong end of a 41-13 score.

What’s probably most troubling about that is the conventional wisdom holds that defense is supposed to be the stronger side of Pitt’s team.

Time will tell how good Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is, but he was poised beyond his redshirt freshman status against Pitt.

This has become a disturbing trend for Pitt, through several coaching regimes. They have a big game that creates excitement, and all the hopes get dashed quickly by a lopsided loss.

It’s only one game, and the Panthers have time to regroup before the next game, Sept. 14 at home against New Mexico.

Based on what happened Monday night, coach Paul Chryst and his staff have a lot of work to do.

Easy choice

Mike Tomlin named Isaac Redman the Steelers’ starter at running back for Sunday’s season opener against the Tennessee Titans.

Tomlin said Redman, “has done some nice things situationally for us, short yardage and goal line.”

In his 46 career games, Redman has scored five touchdowns, so he hasn’t exactly been a demon at the goal line.

If someone had zapped Tomlin with a truth ray, he might have said that Redman will start because the Steelers don’t have anyone else. Jonathan Dwyer was cut, Felix Jones is still new to the offense and LaRod Stephens-Howling is a third down specialist.

If No. 2 draft pick Le’Veon Bell didn’t have a foot injury, he would be lining up now with the first team.

The Steelers have opportunities for rookies like they’ve rarely had, and they’re anxious to get Bell in there. He has the most potential of any of the running backs currently on the roster.

Bad choice

Clint Hurdle took a calculated risk on Sunday and it didn’t work.

He had 28-year-old rookie Kris Johnson start for the Pirates against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates had limited options: Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett had already pitched in the series. Moving Charlie Morton up a day wasn’t practical as he returns from major surgery. Brandon Cumpton had pitched for Class AAA Indianapolis and wasn’t available.

The only realistic option was the one Hurdle should have taken. He should have started Jeanmar Gomez with the idea he could pitch four or five innings. Then, thanks to the Sept. 1 roster expansion, he could have had several relievers stacked behind Gomez to finish the game.

Instead, he went with Johnson, who threw a jitters-free extended relief outing two weeks earlier. Unfortunately, Johnson wasn’t nearly as calm this time

He couldn’t throw strikes, and that put the Pirates in a 5-0 hole they couldn’t escape.

Hurdle took a chance, and it didn’t work.

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com