Well, it seems there’s a bit of pessimism going into the Pitt season with regards to the quarterback position. It seems that a lot of that stems from the awful quarterback play (especially from one player) during last year’s bowl game. So, to present an opposing view and hopefully bring some confidence to Pitt fans in the upcoming season, I’m ripping off a great ESPN show: ‘The Top 5 Reasons You Can’t Blame…’. The show is pretty self-explanatory. They pick someone who’s famous for an error, and give 5 reasons why they shouldn’t be solely to blame for the losses it caused their teams. So, without further adieu, here is the top 5 reasons you can’t blame Bill Stull for the Sun Bowl disaster.
Bill Stull was carted off the field with a concussion during the Rutgers game, if you remember. I’ve never had a concussion, but I can imagine that they’re probably very painful. I’d also imagine that it may take some time to be able to recover and concentrate and play quarterback at the high collegiate level. Bill wasn’t really the same after Rutgers. Consider that his passer rating fell from an average of 87.34 per game before the injury to 70.02 after the injury.
4. The Playcalling
Bill wasn’t put into a position to succeed in the Sun Bowl. The scouting report on him is pretty clear: he’s a pretty good decision maker, little mobile in the pocket but not great and certainly not a running threat, and NO ARM STRENGTH. There were 5 games last season where Stull didn’t complete a pass over 30 yards. Matt Cavenaugh had Bill Stull attempt 8 long passes to Jonathan Baldwin during the Sun Bowl (I looked up the play-by-play). My guess would have been even more than that. Oh, and by the way, we completed 0 of those 8 attempts. If the well is dry, don’t keep going back to it! Baldwin was able to run under some passes in the South Florida game, but that was because he wasn’t a known commodity and he just outran the coverage and waited under the ball until it got there. Oregon State was prepared.
3. The Wind
I have no idea why people are always ignoring the fact that Oregon State only scored 3 points themselves. I know I know, they were missing some key offensive weapons, but there was another reason: the wind. Check out the Sun Bowl Stadium:
A couple of things to notice. First of all, notice that the end zone stands are pretty low, and the stands rise up another level on the sidelines. Nothing unusual. Now, notice that the stadium is literally carved into a mountain range that accentuates that difference in level. The other sideline stands are just like this (you have to trust me), and the open end you’re looking at is the edge of the mountain range that opened up clear into the city of El Paso (read: flat. Look for more mountains on the horizon. Can’t find any). That means the stadium was a giant wind tunnel. I was at the Sun Bowl that day (unfortunately). Trust me, it was windy enough to make it difficult to throw.
2. OSU’s Defense
When there’s a shutout, it’s a combination of two things: the offense playing poorly and the defense playing great. Well, why are people placing all the blame on the first option? Oregon State’s defense was nothing to sneeze at. They were the #3 defense in the Pac 10 in terms of yards per game (and only because USC and Cal had otherworldly defenses). They were a top 25 defense in the country. They were in the top half of the Pac 10 in every defensive category. Both teams were very defensive oriented. A 3-0 score is pathetic under any circumstances, but maybe it’s not as bad or unexpected as you might think. I guess in short, you have to put this in prospective. It was a bad performance to be sure, but it wasn’t against the Sisters of the Poor. It was against a very quality D.
1. Where’s Jason?
I think the biggest factor in the Sun Bowl was probably the least talked about. Left tackle Jason Pinkston was out with a shoulder injury. Jason’s a preseason all-conference player this year, and is probably Pitt’s best offensive lineman. OSU got 5 sacks in the game. Guess how many came from the weak side? Yup. 4 of those sacks came from Victor Butler, the man matched up against the left tackle. Hmmmm…..I’m sensing a pattern here. Even when Stull wasn’t taken to the ground, he was always under pressure. Especially with the injury maybe making him a little gun shy, a constant jailbreak from his blind spot may not have been a welcomed thing. Maybe he could have made some throws if he was given time.
So there you have it. 5 reasons that Bill Stull is not totally at fault for the Sun Bowl. If you notice, all 5 are temporary things that can be fixed. That means there’s still hope for this season, Pitt fans! We’ll have to wait and see on Saturday whether the Sun Bowl was a bad game by a bad QB, or a bunch of bad luck listed above. I can’t wait.