On the opening drive Saturday, Pittsburgh sent a message. Senior running back Ray Graham scampered for a 12-yard touchdown to get the Panthers rolling.
They added to it quickly, with a pair of touchdowns to put Pittsburgh up 21-3 at halftime.
The Virginia Tech defense struggled mightily, with missed tackles, missed assignments and a number of other bad execution plays. But the will to come back and win never left the Hokies.
"Honestly, we still felt like we were able to come back to win the game," sophomore safety Kyshoen Jarrett said at yesterday's weekly press conference. "Especially during halftime, everybody rallied together, offense and defense. We said, 'We're gonna pick it up. We're gonna pick up the intensity, try to play with more passion and such. I don't feel like we felt defeated, but they were just capitalizing on big plays."
Of course, the defense didn't get any help when cornerback stalwart Kyle Fuller went down with an injury in the second quarter and didn't return. The injury was called a "shoulder contusiuon" but sounds like it was a nerve as well in his shoulder.
"I guess it hurt only because he's definitely one of the leaders of the defense and one of the older guys," Jarrett said. "But for future references, a lot more guys are gonna step up. Even though I'm young, including myself, I can definitely step up and take charge. It's just being more vocal."
Jarrett said the loss gives Virginia Tech's players plenty to think about and learn from. One of those lessons is from a mindset standpoint and something that should be taken into account whether it's Pittsburgh, Bowling Green or even Florida State.
"We can't underestimate anyone," Jarrett said. "Even what their record says, this is college football and especially at Virginia Tech, everyone is gonna give you their best. We just have to play with a lot more passion out there, communicate better and I feel like we'll be just fine."