For the second game in a row, Pittsburgh senior quarterback Tom Savage was battered by an opposing pass rush. This time, he and the Panthers couldn't overcome it.
Savage, who has impressed NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt, was sacked eight times and completed just 13 of 28 passes for 187 yards and zero touchdowns in a 19-9 loss to Virginia Tech (6-1), which became bowl-eligible in the win. In Pitt's last game, Savage was dropped seven times but still managed to throw a TD pass in a 14-3 win over Virginia. Savage is 26 of 59 (44.1 percent) for 378 yards, a TD and two picks in the past two games.
As Brandt wrote, Savage has a strong arm and can make all the throws. But he lacks mobility, and when he is pressured, as he was Saturday by a relentless Hokies defense, his mechanics break down and he starts throwing it all over the place. That has been the issue with Savage since he started as a true freshman at Rutgers in 2009.
Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster cooked up some new schemes for Saturday's contest, including standing up end Dadi Nicholas and strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett on the edges of each side of the line on some third downs. Nicholas had three sacks Saturday.
Savage was a consensus national top-15 quarterback prospect in the 2009 recruiting class. Savage, from Philadelphia, signed with Rutgers and was seen as a recruiting coup for then-Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano. Savage started 10 games as a true freshman and had an up-and-down season, throwing for 2,211 yards, 14 TDs and seven interceptions but completing just 52.3 percent of his passes. Rutgers went 9-4 that season.
Savage began the 2010 season as the starter but lost his job early that fall to lightly regarded true freshman Chas Dodd. Savage finished with 521 passing yards and transferred to Arizona after the season. He sat out the 2011 season under NCAA rules, then left after Rich Rodriguez took over as Arizona's coach following that fall because he was ill-suited for Rodriguez's version of the spread. Savage transferred to Pitt and again sat out as a transfer last season. Now a fifth-year senior, this is his final college go-round.
Mike Huguenin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.