CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va — The defense mostly stole the show in Pitt’s 37-7 win over Virginia on Saturday at Scott Stadium. However, the offense showed some signs of life as well and they also helped create a 28-0 first quarter lead to assert control and ultimately take home a convincing conference road victory.
Pitt sophomore wide receiver Bub Means had a big hand in that offensive showing. Means caught three passes for a season-high of 90 yards. He also hauled in his first touchdown in a Pitt uniform, which came on a 31-yard first quarter strike from Kedon Slovis.
It has been a long time coming for Means, who really has not had the impact on offense some were predicting in the preseason. Entering Saturday’s game, Means had totaled just 22 catches for 297 yards and no touchdowns. He did not record a catch in last week’s game against Syracuse, but was a key player for the Panthers on Saturday.
“Just consistency, practice,” Means said on what he did to improve throughout the season. “I mean we just go out there and execute what we do in practice. I don’t really look too much at my individual stats. As long as we get a win and I help the team win, that’s all that matters to me.”
Means’ touchdown grab was vital in helping the Panthers secure a win. He went up and used his size to come down with a pass in the end zone with two Virginia defenders in the area with 2:33 remaining in the first quarter.
That touchdown gave Pitt a 28-0 advantage.
Saturday’s touchdown grab was a similar play to one earlier in the season against Tennessee. Means went up for a jump ball in that game against the Volunteers, but a dropped pass by the Louisiana Tech transfer led to q costly interception.
Means dropped a couple passes early in the season, but has bounced back nicely in recent games, especially on Saturday.
“It feels amazing,” Means said of showing improvement from some early season struggles. “At the beginning of the season, we did have a few drops. But we stayed consistent and worked on it. Everything that we did in practice was shown on the field. I’m just happy our hard work paid off.”
Means is a big player that can take the top off of defenses. He made a few deep plays against North Carolina two weeks ago, and averaged 30 yards a catch on Saturday.
“He’s done a great job,” Pitt quarterback Kedon Slovis said of Means. “I think more and more, it’s really getting him opportunities to do what he does well. You’ve seen that speed and that versatility he has to run past people. I think just getting him those opportunities has been huge.”
Means has been a fixture on offense throughout the season, even though he has not received many opportunities or balls thrown his way. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi was quick to praise Means’ unselfishness throughout the season.
“Bub is such an unselfish guy,” Narduzzi said. “I think back to camp in the first scrimmage he didn’t even have a catch and he doesn’t care. He’s like, ‘I don’t care’. He’s so unselfish. Last week he didn’t have a catch, and Konata has six or Jared has six, and sometimes they come in droves like that and I was happy for him.”
Pitt’s offense was able to play with some confidence on Saturday after benefitting from two interception returns for touchdowns in the opening seconds of the game.
“We went out there with complete confidence, especially with our defense doing the things they are doing,” Means said of that early cushion. “We had no doubts that we could go out there and execute what we have been practicing, a good game plan. We just had to go out there and make those plays, and we made those plays.”
The Pitt offense still struggled to put up points on Saturday. They only generated two touchdown drives, but in recent games the deep pass has been there for Slovis. Means has big play potential, and though it is late in the year, it’s starting to come through.