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September 5, 2011Ray Graham's debut as Pitt's full-time starting running back was a success on a number of fronts, and on Monday the Big East recognized the junior as the conference's offensive player of the week.
Graham rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries in Pitt's 35-16 win over Buffalo at Heinz Field in the season opener on Saturday night.
"I thought Ray Graham was outstanding; I love his toughness," Pitt head coach Todd Graham said after the game.
Saturday night marked Graham's second career 200-yard rushing performance; he rushed for 277 yards against Florida International last season, the second-highest single-game rushing total by a Pitt running back in school history. That performance also earned Graham Big East Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Incidentally, Graham has now rushed for at least 200 yards in two of his three career starts.
As the backup to Dion Lewis in 2010, Graham rushed for 922 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. He also caught 24 passes for 213 yards - 8.9 yards per reception - and two touchdowns.
Graham was one of three Pitt players to earn conference weekly honors last season. Lewis was named offensive player of the week after rushing for 261 yards and four touchdowns in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati, and placekicker/punter Dan Hutchins earned two conference special teams player of the week honors.
Also honored by the Big East this week were South Florida safety Jerrell Young (defensive player of the week) and West Virginia's Tavon Austin (special teams player of the week).