PITTSBURGH -- Utah isn't ready to panic. Neither is Pittsburgh.
Any more missteps by two teams in the midst of very different transitions, however, and it might be time to start.
The Utes (2-3) head east today to take on the Panthers (3-3) struggling during their first season in the Pac-12 while Pitt has been unable to play with any sort of consistency under first-year coach Todd Graham.
Both sides insist they're not in over their heads.
Maybe, but things could be better.
Utah is winless so far in its three Pac-12 games while Pitt remains very much a work in progress. One week the Panthers are crushing South Florida, the next they're getting drubbed by Rutgers.
"That performance was a head-scratcher," Graham said.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham can sympathize.
The Utes demolished rival BYU 54-10 on Sept. 17 but have followed it up by self-destructing in losses to Washington and Arizona State, games in which Utah turned it over a combined 10 times.
Whittingham hasn't placed any extra emphasis on fixing the problem, worried it might get into the heads of his players.
"It's something we've got to tighten up," Whittingham said. "Sometimes you talk too much about it and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and everyone's on pins and needles. You can't let it get to that point. You just got to be fundamentally sound with how you carry the football."
Utah will play without quarterback Jordan Wynn, who will miss his second straight game with a left shoulder injury. Junior college transfer Jon Hays held his own for awhile last week against the Sun Devils but ended up with three interceptions.
"I took some chances when I shouldn't have, should have checked the ball down couple times," Hays said.
Instead he forced the issue and learned a lesson he has no plans repeating. Neither do the rest of the Utes, who held a players-only meeting in the aftermath hoping to get back on track.
"It was us re-evaluating what we expect of each other," offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom said. "It wasn't like a chew-out session. We need to pick it up and find way to fix it. It's on us."
It's a mantra the Panthers could certainly adopt.
Pitt was full of swagger after dropping then 16th-ranked USF by 27 points last month. Then came the unexpected dud against the Scarlet Knights, who pulled away in the second half.
"It just seemed like Rutgers was playing harder than we did, point blank," quarterback Tino Sunseri said. "They came out with more energy and forced us to get back into those bad habits that we had earlier this season."
Namely getting sloppy with the ball and missing assignments as Graham's "high octane" attack continues to sputter at inopportune times.
Yet Graham remains resolute in his vision. He has no plans to modify his spread offense to accommodate a roster full of players more accustomed to former coach Dave Wannstedt's more traditional approach.
"I'm not scaling it back," Graham said. "I'm just not doing that, so we'll have to figure it out."
And figure it out quickly.
The Utes upset the then 15th-ranked Panthers 27-24 in overtime last year, a game that signaled the beginning of the end of Wannstedt's tenure.
Pitt, however, isn't looking for revenge. There's simply too much at stake to worry about the past. A fourth loss, albeit a nonconference one, by the middle of October would put a serious crimp in Graham's sky-high expectations.
"Our goal is still to win the Big East, and we can still do that," running back Ray Graham said. "We have six games down and six more to go, so we're only halfway done. We've still got a lot of football left to play, so it's not too late for us to get back on track."
The Panthers, however, know their margin for error is small. Todd Graham says the Utes are deeper and more physical than the Scarlet Knights. If Pitt takes Utah lightly, things could get ugly.
"You better humbly approach each opponent each week," he said. "If not, you'll get humbled, and we got humbled (against Rutgers)."
It's a feeling the Utes know well. They knew it would take time to get used to playing in the Pac-12. They also expected to have a conference win by now.
"I've never been one to look at rankings and standings but it's one of those things that doesn't take a genius to figure out," Bergstrom said. "It's rough. It's one of those things that weighs on your mind a little bit but at the same time motivates you. It's kind of the point now where I'll do anything."