NCF Nation: Jordan Campbell

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For Pittsburgh, thankfully, it's in with the new. For Syracuse, depressingly, it was on with the old.

Both teams came into Saturday's game in unexpected places. The Panthers, after being picked to win the Big East almost unanimously, were 2-3 and teetering on the brink of collapse. The Orange stood at a surprising 4-1 and had the Carrier Dome jumping at kickoff in anticipation of a breakthrough win.

[+] EnlargeTino Sunseri
Richard Mackson/US PresswirePittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri completed 17 of 24 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns Saturday against Syracuse.
Before halftime even arrived, roles had reverted back to normal. Pitt blasted Syracuse 45-14 in a game all too familiar to long-suffering Orange fans. Many of the 40,168 hopeful headed for the exits midway through the third quarter. By the final 10 minutes, the place looked like a ghost town from the Greg Robinson days.

It was the kind of lopsided result you might have expected before the season, but not after the way the Panthers bumbled through the nonconference portion of their schedule. They saved their most complete performance for the start of Big East play after coach Dave Wannstedt preached all week about beginning a new season.

"We knew it was a tale of two seasons all along," quarterback Tino Sunseri said. "We had a tough out-of-conference schedule, but we still have all of our goals ahead of us. The Big East championship is ahead of us. We wanted to come out fast today and let the Big East know that we can play."

Sunseri looked like one of the team's weak links earlier in the year, never more than when he struggled so badly against Miami that many fans called for backup Pat Bostick. But the sophomore has progressed since then, and on Saturday the game plan revolved around him.

Wannstedt said when he arrived in the team hotel on Friday night, he flipped on the TV and saw Syracuse coach Doug Marrone's show. Marrone, he said, "must have said the word 'physical' 10 times during the course of the show." Wannstedt also saw how the Orange brought pressure against South Florida last week, daring Bulls quarterback B.J. Daniels to burn them with big plays.

Daniels couldn't. But Sunseri could. He completed 17 of 24 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns. Pitt's first play from scrimmage was a short pass that Devin Street took 79 yards for a touchdown. Sunseri also made third-down touchdown throws to Ray Graham and Mike Shanahan as he stood in against the blitz.

"That was probably his most complete game," Wannstedt said. "He has showed little spurts, signs of getting better. But today I thought from start to finish, he maintained a consistency he had to have."

Pitt's improvement has coincided with its shuffling of the offensive line, moving Lucas Nix inside, Jordan Gibbs to tackle and replacing Greg Gaskins. Dion Lewis (15 carries for 80 yards) and Ray Graham (11 for 54) both found running room against a good Syracuse run defense. But neither went off, and Jon Baldwin finished with only one catch, yet the Panthers scored 45 points.

"Everybody thinks it's just Ray, Dion and JB," Graham said. "But Tino spread it out, and that's what is great."

The defense also played its best game, holding star back Delone Carter to just 38 yards before Syracuse was forced to throw nonstop in catch-up mode. The Panthers created four turnovers, including cornerback Ricky Gary's 80-yard pick-six, while moving pieces around. Shane Gordon got his first start at strongside linebacker, Dom DeCicco went back to safety and Tristan Roberts returned to start at the weakside linebacker spot.

Wannstedt was hesitant to use the "new season" theme, lest his team forget its mistakes of the past. But it was hard not to think that this looked like a different Pitt, one that could compete with West Virginia for the Big East title if it maintains this level of execution.

"We should be unstoppable," defensive end Jabaal Sheard said. "We have great athletes and tremendous talent everywhere on the field. If we play like we did today, with everybody stepping up to make big plays, we'll be all right."

If Pitt looked renewed, Syracuse appeared to relapse.

The Orange benefited from a soft early schedule, and now they face consecutive road games at West Virginia and Cincinnati that could turn that 4-1 start to a 4-4 crossroads. They don't have another home game until November, and by then the excitement they built up may have significantly eroded.

"What I feel bad about is for the people who came out to watch the game," Marrone said. "Their expectations were high, and so were ours. My expectations were high for these players to get over the this hump."

Not quite yet. What's old is new again, and vice versa.

Another player bolts USC

July, 7, 2010
7/07/10
9:10
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Redshirt freshman safety Byron Moore is leaving USC for a junior college, USCfootball.com reported.

Moore was listed No. 2 on the post-spring depth chart behind Jawanza Starling.

Moore will have to sit out a year before transferring to another FBS program. As a freshman, he's not eligible to take advantage of the NCAA waver that allows Trojans juniors and seniors to transfer to another program and be eligible to play this fall.

Moore is the third player to opt to transfer after the program was hit with NCAA sanctions, joining linebacker Jordan Campbell (Louisville) and defensive end Malik Jackson (Tennessee). Also, the Trojans released touted offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson from his scholarship commitment, and linebacker signee Glen Stanley reportedly also wants a release.
It was obvious during spring practice that Louisville lacked playmakers on defense.

Well, Charlie Strong has addressed that with two apparent summer upgrades.

Former Michigan signee Demar Dorsey has pledged to play for the Cardinals. And now ex-Southern Cal linebacker Jordan Campbell says he's transferring to Louisville.

Campbell, a junior, served mostly as a backup and special-teams performer for the Trojans, registering just 16 total tackles in 17 career games. He started last season's Washington State game and had eight tackles before injuring his ankle late in the contest.

Because of the NCAA sanctions levied against USC, upperclassmen from that school can transfer to another team and be immediately eligible.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Campbell was ranked as the 42nd-best inside linebacker by ESPN's Scouts Inc. coming out of high school. Louisville's top two linebackers from a year ago, Jon Dempsey and Chris Campa, were both seniors. Though Campbell saw little playing time at USC, he seems talented enough to step in right away and contribute, if not start, for the Cardinals. Dorsey is in the same situation at defensive back.

So Strong might have found two defensive starters in the summertime, or at the very least a couple of playmakers. That could be a huge boost for Louisville's chances this fall.

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