Pitt Football: Offense Finally Clicking as Baldwin and Lewis Make an Impact

Matt ShetlerCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Dion Lewis #28 of the Pittsburgh Panthers runs with the ball against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Now that's more like it.

After waiting six weeks for the offense to start meeting expectations, the Pitt offense clicked on all cylinders in a big win Saturday against Rutgers, who has been a huge thorn in the side of Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt.

With a new quarterback in Tino Sunseri and three new starters on the offensive line, many, including myself had questioned if the offensive unit would even get going, but the past two weeks have shown that this could only possibly be the beginning of what the Panthers are capable of producing.

Let's start with the biggest difference and that's the offensive line is playing much better.  All of the skill players have reaped the benefits the past two weeks because the five guys up front have done the job.

The numbers show the difference.  Instead of the struggling offensive unit we've seen for the first five weeks of the season, the Panthers have amounted 902 yards of total offense and scored 86 points in beating two pretty decent teams in Syracuse and Rutgers.

Other than the offensive line, the most notable difference has been the play of Sunseri.  The Panthers have gotten him involved in games early and his stat line the past two weeks is nothing short of outstanding.  Sunseri has completed 38 of 51 pass attempts, for 573 yards.  What's more impressive is Sunseri has thrown seven touchdowns the past two weeks, to only one interception.

He's not the only one to benefit.  Preseason Heisman contenders Dion Lewis and Jon Baldwin have been non-factors in the Panthers offense until two weeks ago.  Both had outstanding games Saturday as Lewis rushed for 130 yards and a score on 17 carries and Baldwin caught five passes for 139 yards and a score.

Getting them involved like this the rest of the season will be huge to the Panthers success.

Another guy to keep an eye on will be tight end Mike Cruz.  Cruz caught only two passes Saturday, but both went for touchdowns.  Replacing Dorin Dickerson has been much harder than the Panthers probably realized.  If Cruz can make any plays in the passing game, then the Panthers will have a greater chance at success.

So what's the deal?  Was this just two good weeks, or is this something we should expect to see out of the Pitt offense the rest of the season?

It likely could be a combination of both.  The Panthers had high expectations on them coming into the season for a reason.  The weapons are there offensively.

Now that Sunseri is starting to look like a quarterback, Lewis and Baldwin's numbers should continue to rise.

Pitt likely won't score 40 points a game the rest of the way, but the offense should be able to play with anyone left on their schedule.

It could be due to Pitt losing three tough games, but that experience has them ready for the Big East season.  Whatever the reason, this is the type of offense that Panthers fans expected coming into the season.

If they can keep it up, along with the way the Panthers defense played Saturday, then Pitt could be very tough to beat the rest of the way.