PITTSBURGH (AP) -Nate Byham sees much to like in a Pitt season that, after only two games, would appear to be a disappointment to anyone not wearing a Panthers uniform.
The Panthers tumbled out of the Top 25 after losing to a Mid-American Conference school at home for the first time - Bowling Green won 27-17 at then-No. 25 Pitt on Aug. 30, then went home last week and was beaten badly by Minnesota, 42-17.
Pitt rebounded on Saturday with a 27-16 win over another MAC team, Buffalo, yet hardly dominated the way that might be expected of a team considered to be a legitimate Big East title challenger. Pitt led only 10-9 at the half and 17-16 after three quarters, a second consecutive rough game during what is supposed to be the easy portion of its schedule.
It gets rougher now - Iowa (2-0) is up next on Sept. 20 after easily defeating Maine and FIU to start the season - yet Byham believes the Panthers are much better than they were when the season started.
nd. ``We have a bye week and time to recover and an extra week to game plan for Iowa, and we're going to go into that game and have a lot of confidence.''
To Byham, a young, reconfigured Pitt offensive line played much better against Buffalo than it did against Bowling Green, and the line's performance is the single most important factor in determining the Panthers' success or failure.
Pitt was outrushed by Buffalo 125-111, yet sophomore LeSean McCoy found enough open lanes to gain 93 yards on 20 carries and score three times, his fourth three-TD game in 14 college games.
``A team can't come in here and play us and say, 'We've got to stop Shady (McCoy) and this one receiver and we'll be good,'' Byham said. ``They have to know when they play us that they've got to cover everybody - everyone can come out and make a play, and that's what is expected of us.''
Quarterback Bill Stull looked more settled and relaxed under center than he did the week before, completing passes to seven receivers while going 22-of-33 for 241 yards.
``I'm going to be more comfortable every single day, every week,'' said Stull, whose 2007 season was cut short by a thumb injury in his one and only game. ``Our whole offense is developing. We're excited about this.''
nly because he believes the offensive line was that much better. The Panthers outgained Bowling Green 393-254, yet committed three turnovers and were shut out in the second half.
``It all starts with what the offensive line's going to do - if they play good, our offense is going to play great,'' Byham said. ``That's what happened (against Bowling Green), their defensive line got pressure and it kind of messed up the whole rhythm of the offense.''

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