There were multiple factors that led to Pitt's 28-21 win over Notre Dame this past Saturday.
Certainly, Ray Vinopal's three forced turnovers were game-changers. The actual touchdowns that put points on the board, or the fact that Pitt's offense was much more efficient in either setting up short-yardage situations, or converting them.
But none of this would have even mattered had it not been for a great performance by the Pitt offensive line. Pitt converted 23 first downs on Saturday, eight of them rushing. Of those eight converted first downs, six were second down plays of five yards or less, and another was a third-and-one.
Pitt showed considerable improvement in short yardage situations. However, don't expect offensive line coach Jim Hueber, or his players, to be looking for any medals.
"If you play hard, you stay with it, you get it done," Hueber said. "It was far from perfect. I think everybody knows that, but they played hard, and hung on there until the end. It was great."
Offensive coordinator said the running game's success in those short-yardage situations was noticeable. He too didn't call it a complete game.
"You have makable third downs, you can have success running the ball," Rudolph added. "It keeps things balanced. I think that's when we play our best. We can run the ball successful, we can have a little bit of balance. We can have success running the ball and passing the ball."
One area where Hueber sounded impressed was how his group reacted to a different look that Notre Dame showed to start the game. It was a slight difference, but one he felt the group recognized and acted upon.
Is it the fact that nine games in, has the offensive line seen enough different looks to be able to react to any type of defense?
"Some of the stuff (Notre Dame) threw at us, (the offensive line) had not done," Hueber said. "I thought the kids did a great job of picking it up in pass protection."
Artie Rowell expanded on it.
"They were showing one look, then right before we snapped the ball, they'd shift into a different look," Rowell explained. "You really have to trust your roles, your technique and the guy beside you.
"They showed a look we knew that they did, and then stemming into a different look that we knew that they did. We recognized both looks. It's a second, maybe a second and a half for me to make the right call, and other guys to get the right call out."
A step in the right direction, but still a hope for even more improvement with three regular season games to play.
"We're still not where we need to be," Hueber said. "Even after that win. Regardless of the opponent, we're not consistently where we need to be."