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“If you look at our team now, compared to five or six weeks ago, you’re seeing improvement in the offensive line,” Wannstedt said. “You’re seeing improvement in our running game. You’re seeing improvement in Tino Sunseri.”

And in Lewis, whose slow start was matched by the Panthers, who lost non-conference games to Utah, Miami and Notre Dame. Still, the Panthers would play in a BCS bowl if they win the Big East.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on offense,” Lewis said. “If we execute and click and we’re all playing as one, we’re a dangerous team and that showed (against Rutgers). Now we’ve got to keep moving forward.”

Especially Lewis, who is certain Pitt won’t change its offensive personality even though the fast-improving Sunseri has thrown seven touchdowns in two games. Pitt has rushed for 1,118 yards in seven games, down only about 100 yards from last season’s 1,222 yards. That’s because Graham has gained 645 yards in six games, an average of 107.5 yards.

“We’re still a running team,” Lewis said. “Everybody’s really getting their assignments now. We’ve still got a lot of work, and we know we can play even better. … If we execute, we feel that we’ll win every game.”