Pregame: USF at Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- Kickoff is closing in between No. 16 USF and Pitt on a cool, breezy night at Heinz Field. Here are a few keys to the game.


1. Establish the run game. Pitt would love nothing more than to test the new-found confidence B.J. Daniels is playing with in his first road game since the opener at Notre Dame. Darrell Scott has shown some nice flashes, but it is one thing to have a big game against Florida A&M. It is quite another to have a big game on the road against a Big East opponent as solid as Pitt.

2. Harass Tino Sunseri. This is something that nearly everybody has had success doing early on in the season, a big reason why Pitt has given up 19 sacks. Sunseri has not looked comfortable running this offense, and USF needs to keep it that way. The Bulls have played decently well on the defensive line, and should have an advantage against a Pitt offensive line that has struggled at times.

3. Keep testing the Pitt linebackers. Pitt actually played its best game on defense last season, but the Panthers have shown problems covering underneath routes in the pass game. USF could take advantage of this with its fast receivers that have the potential to get big plays in the pass game.

For Pitt

1. Get to B.J. Daniels. Pitt has played well up front, and that has to continue against a Bulls team that has done essentially whatever it has wanted in the past three games. Much has been made of the way Daniels has played through the first three games of the season, but we will see how he responds if Pitt knocks him down a few times and keeps the pressure on. Todd Thomas and Ejuan Price are going to be huge in the contain game, should Daniels be able to escape the pocket when the pressure closes in.

2. Get Sunseri comfortable. That means getting a little more help from his teammates. Better play from the offensive line. More consistent play from the receivers. More of a reliance on Ray Graham. Sunseri has not been able to shoulder the entire offensive load thus far.

3. Get Graham going. Graham slowed down a bit in his past two games, but there is no question he has got to help the Pitt offense get going with some big plays.