What Does James Conner’s Season-Ending Injury Mean For Pitt?

    James Conner will have to sit out the remainder of 2015 after suffering a season-ending injury. Here's what his loss means for the Pitt Panthers.

    September 7, 2015

    It wasn’t supposed to be that big of a deal.

    Pitt All-America running back James Conner cranked out 77 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries against Youngstown State, and then he left the game with what appeared to be a minor knee injury. The word was that everyone was just being cautious against an FCS team like Youngstown State, but instead, it turned into a disaster.

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    It’s the last thing new head coach Pat Narduzzi and his staff needed.

    Conner is not only one of the nation’s premier running backs, but he’s also a perfect fit for a new staff that wants to dictate with a physical, bareknuckle brand of football. Through an offseason of intensive conditioning, he shed unnecessary pounds, and was supposed to play a more prominent role in the Pitt passing game this fall – and now it’s over.

    What did he mean to the Panthers?

    The battering ram out of the backfield smashed Tony Dorsett’s single-season school rushing and scoring records, on the way to being named the ACC Player of the Year rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns on 298 carries.

    So now it’s time to move on for the season, and the hope has to be that Qadree Ollison’s opener in place of Conner is a sign of things to come.

    With 297 yards and a 71-yard dash with a score on just 16 carries, the 6-2, 230-pounder out of the Buffalo, New York area looked like Conner-lite showing off the same sort of speed and power. Just a redshirt freshman, he came to Pitt as a top prospect with the thought being he’d work his way into a roll and a rotation with Conner, but now the spotlight is on.

    Fortunately for Pitt, Akron is up next before dealing with Iowa and Virginia Tech. But with four of the next five games on the road, combined with the loss of its star, the wheels can’t come off this early with one major injury.

    MORE: ACC Football Roundup, Reactions & Rankings After Week 1

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