Four Stats For Victory

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I've gone heavy on the old traditional journalism this week. We had the postgame column from Tuesday night's basketball game, story on the secondary Thursday and today's excellent piece from the newest intern addition to, Chris Gundrum, on JaQuon Parker.

Before we head into Saturday night's game at Pitt -- 7 p.m., ESPNU -- here is this week's Four Stats For Victory.

1. Combined sacks+QB hurries > 5. Pittsburgh will be placing its hopes on the right arm of Tino Sunseri, for better or worse. UC buries the run and without RB Ray Graham, the Panthers will be without the firepower to break through. Two teams have protected the passer against the Cats: USF and Tennessee. They both threw for more than 400 yards. The rest didn't top 16 points. The Panthers rank dead last in FBS in sacks allowed (36). If Pitt can't protect Sunseri, it has no chance. None.

2. Rush for more than 150 yards. Pittsburgh rushes the passer effectively. Thirteen sacks the past two games proves that. Protecting against their edge rushers will be a challenge. However, the Panthers can be gashed in the run game.

Take a look at the last four games:

UConn -- Lyle McCoombs: 25-124
Utah -- John White: 36-171
Rutgers -- Team: 42-97
USF -- Team: 38-202

Isaiah Pead may still be kicking himself over game film he said he stopped watching in the third quarter because it his play was "disgusting." He's refocused and knows pounding No. 23 will be the most plausible method of success at Heinz Field.

White averages 5.1 yards per carry and McCoombs 4.2. Pead and his 6.2 ypc should be primed to run all over the Panthers and exact revenge for Dion Lewis' 267 yards last season.

3. Zero special teams points allowed. Pittsburgh proved it can score on special teams. Against Utah they had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as well as a blocked punt return for a score. Avoiding the equalizer of special teams breakdowns for touchdowns or flip field position will allow UC's defense to force Sunseri to drive his team the distance.

4. No red zone turnovers. The biggest bugaboo for Zach Collaros this season hasn't necessarily been his six interceptions, rather where they occurred. Four of his six picks have come in the red zone and taken points off the board. In a game where points will come at a premium against a quality defense, he must learn to throw the ball away and settle for three.

Most of his mistakes have come with split decisions on improvisation in the pocket. Whether it be trying to lob a pass up to Anthony McClung under pressure in the back of the end zone or the backhanded shovel pass attempt, learning to keep the ad lib to a minimum and make smart decisions when he does run out of the pocket can avoid giving any momentum to Pittsburgh headed the other way.

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