(RNN) – One of the Atlantic Coast Conference newcomers will attempt to hit the reset button on the 2013 season.
Big East transfer Pitt (0-1, 0-1 ACC) was made a footnote in the young career of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston when the teams squared off Sept. 2. The Seminoles' freshman QB completed all but two passes in his Sept. 2 debut and totaled five touchdowns in the 41-13 victory over the Panthers.
Pitt should be well-rested from a 12-day break and ready for redemption as they play host to the Mountain West Conference's New Mexico Lobos (1-1). The team will see a much different look from the Lobos – an option-based attack that has gained more than 75 percent of its offense on the ground.
"[New Mexico does] a good job of running the football and making the defense susceptible to play-action passes off of it," said head coach Paul Chryst on Monday. "For us defensively, discipline and trust will be two keys words. We've got to execute, we've got to tackle."
In Week 1, the Panthers took the opening drive into the end zone but had little success otherwise in their first conference contest. Seminole defenders swarmed running backs, kept pressure on QB Tom Savage and forced two interceptions.
The result was a letdown for a squad expected to be among the top teams in the Coastal division. However, there is still plenty for their fans to be excited about.
Savage showed he still has the arm to make any throw on a football field – a trait that made him a top recruit coming out of high school. After starting his college career at Rutgers then transferring to Arizona before arriving at Pitt, he finally has the opportunity to display his skills.
An offense-minded coach in Chryst and an All-ACC caliber receiver in Devin Street don't hurt his chances either. Street, the 6'4, 190-pound senior, came within 25 yards of hitting the 1,000 mark a season ago and made six catches for 141 yards last game.
For New Mexico, Kasey Carrier will be the one entrusted with moving them down the field. The senior running back has already gained 345 yards with four touchdowns through two games – a better pace than last year when he ran for nearly 1,469 yards.
The Panther defense was a top-20 squad nationally in 2012, and it returns eight starters. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald solidifies the middle of the line, and his ability to get in the backfield (18.5 tackles for loss in 2012) should help disrupt a team that relies so much on the run.
The Lobos have allowed nearly 400 yards to UTEP and UT-San Antonio this season, while getting only one turnover. Head coach Bob Davie's team will need an inspired performance from a struggling pass defense to keep the Panthers offense from moving the ball at will.
Winston had heat as a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy before he took a game snap. Now, "Famous Jameis" is drawing all kinds of attention, and many wonder if he can really be as good as he looks.
His opportunities to put up big numbers won't get much better than Nevada, who allowed 58 points to UCLA two weeks ago.
Winston is also winning over the reporters in news conferences, and he may have said the line of the week. According to ESPN's David Hale, the QB said he was excited to play the Wolfpack because their defensive end had a mullet.
To be fair, it was "glorious."
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