Pitt's 21-20 win over Iowa at Heinz Field on Saturday helped the Panthers improve to 2-1 on the season, and on Monday the Big East announced that two Pitt players were among the conference's standouts for the week.
Redshirt senior middle linebacker Scott McKillop took home Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance against the Hawkeyes. McKillop, a Kiski Area graduate, recorded a game-high 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss, and one sack. The sack came on Iowa's final drive of the third quarter, when the Hawkeyes took the ball in Pitt territory.
On first down from the Pitt 47, McKillop got to quarterback Jake Christensen for a seven-yard loss. Iowa eventually punted on the series.
For McKillop, the sack was one of six second-half tackles he recorded.
"I think our team got stronger as the game went on," McKillop said after the game. "I think in the third and fourth quarter we were the best team."
McKillop is joined in this week's Big East honors by senior punter Dave Brytus, who was named Special Teams Player of the Week. Brytus averaged 47.8 yards on his eight punts against Iowa, but it was his final kick that placed him among the conference's best specialists for the week.
Pitt led 21-20 with less than three minutes to go in the game when the Panthers' offense took over at its own 41. Iowa called a timeout after each of Pitt's three plays, putting Brytus on the field at his own 42 with 2:28 on the game clock.
As was the case throughout the game, when Pitt absolutely needed it, the Panthers made a big play. For his punt, Brytus leaned into a booming kick that rolled out of bounds just inside the Iowa 1 for a picture-perfect 57-yard coffin-corner punt.
Pinned against their own end zone, the Hawkeyes were never able to generate enough offense to present a threat, and Pitt came away with the win.
"I just try to approach every punt the same way," Brytus said. "That punt, I approached it the same way as I did my first punt: go out there, do my job, place it where it's supposed to be, and good things are going to happen."
After the game, McKillop expressed his teammates' admiration for the punting performance.
"Dave came through with a big time kick. It was a big time play," he said. "I hope he gets enough credit for the play. I hope he knows how crucial of a play that was."
"It's a great feeling to contribute like that," Brytus said.
For McKillop, this is his second Big East Defensive Player of the Week recognition for 2008, as he was previously named Player of the Week after Pitt played Buffalo. He now has three Player of the Week honors for his career, with the other after Pitt played Rutgers last season.
For Brytus, it is his second career Big East Special Teams Player of the Week recognition. He was previously named Player of the Week following the 2007 season opener against Eastern Michigan.
Chris Peak can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org