Youngstown State hands Pittsburgh a 31-17 loss in home opener

By Chip Patterson | College Writer
Youngstown State RB Jamaine Cook totaled 126 all-purpose yards, including a 23-yard pass for a touchdown. (US Presswire)

The first game of the Paul Chryst era at Pittsburgh did not go as planned; losing 31-17 to FCS foe Youngstown State.

The day started with news that Chryst had suspended starting defensive lineman Tyrone Ezell, highly touted freshman running back Rushel Shell, and four other players for disciplinary reasons. Maybe it was the suspensions, or a related issue, but the Panthers were run over by their opposition.

Youngstown State totaled 204 team rushing yards, and converted on 11 of 16 third downs. Every time the Panthers needed a stop, it seemed like the Penguins were able to move the chains with ease. Some hiccups in the transition are expected.

After all, the team is with their fourth coach in three years and in the midst of switching schemes on both sides of the ball. But fans were not expecting Saturday's performance from a team still stocked with talent - particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

There were some bright spots, though. The status of starting running Ray Graham was uncertain heading into the game, but he was able to get some much-needed game action for that knee he injured last October. Graham carried 14 times for 71 yards (5.1 yards per carry), but eventually handed the reigns over to Isaac Bennett.

Whatever was wrong with Pittsburgh needs to get fixed fast because Cincinnati is waiting for them on Thursday. Chryst and his staff will have a day to watch the tape, then it will be time to focus on the 2011 Co-Big East Champions. It will be the first game of the Bearcats' season, and they will be ready to pounce (no pun intended) after watching PItt's performance in the 31-17 loss.

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