November 7, 2006

Penalties are an increasing problem for Pitt

After spending the better part of the season as one of the Big East's least-penalized teams, the Pitt Panthers now find themselves in the middle of the pack in the conference, losing an average of 46.3 yards per game to penalties. The Panthers' last game, a 22-12 loss at South Florida on Saturday, saw the team get charged with 11 fouls, a stat that undoubtedly played a factor in the game's outcome.

"We were just shooting ourselves in the foot and making mistakes," quarterback Tyler Palko said. "If you look early on [in the season], we were the least-penalized team in the Big East and one of the least-penalized in the country; in the last couple weeks we got away from that. When you're shooting yourself in the foot and putting yourself in bad down-and-distances and things like that, it's tough to rebound. So we need to clean up the mistakes, get back on the horse, and just fight. If mistakes happen, we need to get to the root of them fix them, and get back on track."

The loss to USF came one off-week after the Panthers fell to Rutgers at home. In that game, Pitt was charged with eight penalties for 53 yards. Those calls came in crucial situations, keeping drives alive and giving the Scarlet Knights extra yardage. Against South Florida, the Panthers' 11 penalties resulted in 96 lost yards, but the number was probably a little higher, considering several holding calls that not only pushed Pitt's offense back 10 yards but also took away any gained yards on the play.

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