- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Skip Holtz isn’t big on history, abbreviated as it may be at South Florida.

Respect it? Sure. Use it to gauge his team’s future prospects? Not really.

The second-year coach doesn’t care that the 16th-ranked Bulls (4-0) have lost three straight games to Pitt (2-2), a fact he insisted he didn’t know when brought to his attention earlier this week.

“The 2011 football team has not played the Pitt team,” Holtz said. “Whether we’re 0-92 is irrelevant.”

USF’s situation is not quite that dire, though its last visit to Heinz Field was a nightmarish 41-14 loss in 2009.

Holtz was still coaching at East Carolina then, and is quick to point out most of the impact players who will take on the Panthers in the Big East opener on Thursday weren’t on the field that night.

The Bulls have become road warriors of sorts under Holtz, winning at Miami, Louisville and Cincinnati last season before adding Notre Dame to the list with a 23-20 win on Sept. 3.

Three straight blowouts against overmatched opponents have followed. The smarting Panthers should be a significantly tougher test despite a pair of fourth-quarter letdowns in losses to Iowa and Notre Dame.

The “high octane” offense coach Todd Graham promised when he took over is only operating sporadically. Pitt’s longest pass play went for all of 18 yards and quarterback Tino Sunseri spent most of the game scrambling behind a makeshift offensive line.

Graham placed some of the blame at the feet of his players on Monday, chastising quarterback Tino Sunseri for holding onto the ball too long and hinting the receivers are running the wrong routes.

He’s since backtracked, stressing “we’re not pointing fingers, and you’ll never hear excuses coming for me.”

If the Panthers can’t turn it around soon, there’s no telling which direction the fingers will go.

Pitt viewed the stretch of three games in 12 days to end September as chance to make a statement. After limping to the finish in consecutive weeks, they’re simply hoping to keep their season afloat.

“We had a goal to win the national championship, and we fell short of that,” Pitt running back Ray Graham said. “But we also have a goal to win the Big East. We still have high expectations with that, and we still can do that. So, that’s what we’re concentrating on right now.”

And they’re concentrating on it with Sunseri. Though the Panthers have inserted freshman Trey Anderson into the lineup occasionally, he remains a part of the team’s future. Sunseri is the present.

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