Tag Archives: Pitt defense

Pitt 61 USF 70

image from postgazette.com

Game Recap

Well, the less than stellar performances just keep on coming.  It’s very easy to diagnose what went wrong in this one.  The defense had too many miscues.  The offense was struggling to hit jump shots.  Then to top it off, when the game was on the line, Pitt couldn’t hit a free throw to save their lives.  That was the most frustrating part after we had improved so much in that area this year.  Just an awful game all around that I’d like to forget as soon as possible.  Here are some other random thoughts:

  • Pitt out-rebounded the Bulls, but the Panthers are still allowing way too many offensive boards.  USF had 12 in this game.  It’s becoming a bit of a pattern that I mentioned in previous posts.  The problem as I see it is that we’re gambling for blocks too much instead of going for rebounds.  You have to make the shot tough for the shooter and then immediately box him out.  This HAS to improve.
  • On offense, Pitt is getting the most production when it is getting assists for their baskets.  Over the course of the season, Pitt has had 328 assists on 489 baskets.  That’s an assist for every 1.49 baskets.  The Panthers had 8 assists on 23 baskets in Tampa.  Assists mean that you’re taking a good shot.  That a teammate found you in a good position and you hit the shot.  Low assist to basket ratios mean selfish play that always leads to offensive struggles.
  • Remember when DeJuan Blair used to lower his shoulder to clear room for a shot, and all the other teams would yell for fouls and not get them?  I saw the other side of the equation in this game, and it sucked.
  • Dominique Jones scored 37 of South Florida’s 70 points.  There are a zillion defenses to stop one guy.  I’m shocked at that total.  But I’ll also say that Pitt having it’s best defender on the bench doesn’t help matters.
  • USF shot 13 more foul shots than Pitt.  Even with the total being padded by some intentional fouling at the end, that’s pretty high.  But it’s because South Florida pounded the ball inside.  I miss watching Pitt do that.
  • Coach Dixon got a technical after you can see on the replay that he yelled “that’s not right” after a bump at the top of the key (he claims to have said “Call that”.  I think both are pretty much the same thing).  Now, the T was given by Ray Perone who I don’t know too well because he rarely does Big East games, so I did some research.  He’s mostly an Atlantic 10 and Northeast conference ref.  And he’s very very quick with the technicals.  Let’s compare him to Tim Higgins (who was also reffing the game), Ed Hightower and Jim Burr: three guys who have been doing tons of Big East games for years and really know all of the coaches and their styles.  So far this year, Perone has 15 technical calls.  Tim has 6, Jim has 4 and Ed has 2.  That’s a pretty big gap (oh, and to be fair, Ray has 49 games this year compared to 41, 46 and 47 respectively).  Last year Ray had 30 T’s compared to 16, 19 and 25 from the three other guys.  So, he’s got a track record of not taking any crap whatsoever.  Now, I’m pretty sure that both “Call That!” and “That’s Not Right!” would be acceptable in just about any game I’ve been close enough to hear coaches yell.  But this was not a Big East ref who knew Jamie.  It took me all of 5 minutes to get his background.  I know reffing crews aren’t announced until the day of the game, but one guy with a laptop can do some reconnaissance for you.  I call that mistake a lack of scouting.
  • Lots of miscommunication between the Pitt players on defense.  There were many instances where a guy got caught up deciding whether to help or not, and ended up leaving his man open without affecting the ball carrier at all.  I’ll chalk that up to a young team, but that’s another area that needs to improve.

All in all, a lot of things to work on.  But such is life with a young team.  We get a chance for redemption on Wednesday in Morgantown.  An unlikely win makes everyone forget the Bulls.  A loss puts us in a bit of a hole.

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Pitt 68 Wichita State 55

 

image from pittsburghlive.com

 

Game Recap

There were a lot of good things that I saw in this game.  Wichita State obviously saw video of our first game because they came out and really pressured us on defense.  Especially in the second half.  I saw a lot of traps and ball pressure, and we handled it extremely well.  In fact, I can’t remember us being bated into a stupid turnover at all.  Against a team that plays like the Shockers, that’s fantastic.  The box score says 17 turnovers which is getting awfully close to 20 which is where I start to get worried, but I guess I’ll take it.

Defensively, we did very well running with the Shockers.  Wichita loves to run the floor and see what comes out of it.  It hardly ever did anything this evening.  We’ve struggled against teams like that in the past (anyone else get a shudder when I say the word Villanova?), so once again I’m seeing improvement.  Wichita State didn’t really run much of an offense.  They forced a lot of things, which really helped us out.  I’m pretty sure we won’t get that from Texas tomorrow.  That lack of patience also caused the Shockers to have 24 turnovers.  What a gift.

Some overall game notes:

  • The rebounding edge was pretty even (Wichita State took it 27-25).  The Shockers are a very good rebounding team.  Past Pitt teams would have manhandled them, but given how this team has been shaping up (awful on the glass), I see the rebounding totals in this game as a step in the right direction.  Now, if they can do that again against Texas I’ll be beside myself.  But that’s very unlikely with Dexter Pittman in the paint.
  • We didn’t show much depth tonight.  For the most part (J.J. Richardson and Dwight Miller both got one solid minute of game time) we went with an 8 man rotation.  I’m not sure I remember a Pitt team that thin before.  Even this season.  Miller especially has gotten a few more minutes than that in the first three games.  Maybe Dixon is saving them for more minutes against Texas?  I don’t know.
  • We shot the ball extremely well.  46.7% from the field and 70.0% from the line.  Take that in for a moment.  70 percent free throws.  Pitt.  Crazy, right?  I won’t argue, though.  That 46.7% was pretty much without a post presence, as well.  Dante Taylor didn’t really show up, and Gary McGhee occasionally made his presence known.  But that’s definitely going to be a weakness this year.
  • The Shockers couldn’t match our quickness in the backcourt.  It led to a ton of foul calls, and we took advantage (70%.  Ha!).  I didn’t really expect that in this game, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I’m not sure how long that will last, though.  I think a lot of teams left on the schedule have quicker guards than Wichita State.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: with this young team, I’m just looking for progress.  If we get better every game, we’ll be fine in the Big East.  But we’ve got to start learning lessons now, and it really seems like we are.  I’ve already seen some holes in our game close (like playing against a zone), and I haven’t seen too many new ones open up.  We’re not going to be a great team, but I’m liking our chances more and more for a tournament spot.

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Pitt 24 Rutgers 17

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Phew.  I just need to take a deep breath after this one.  I don’t think I was the only Pitt fan to have flash backs to NC State in the 4th quarter.  It was good to survive this one and exercise a lot of demons.  A few notes from the game.

First of all, I’m still going nuts over this base defense, but I guess I have to live with it seeing as Wanny is obviously not going to change for anyone or anything.  This time there was a 3rd and 23 that we met with a 4-3 (that still baffles me).  Also, I think we should have blitzed a freshman quarterback a lot more than we did.  The front four was doing an excellent job of getting through Rutger’s great offensive line, but they could have used some help.  I understand the theory of having a great front 4 get pressure by themselves which frees up a lot more players to drop into coverage, but if you run into a good offensive line and they need help, they need help.  Now, the line had 3 sacks and allowed only 38 yards of rushing (granted that 38 is a bit inflated because Rutgers was behind and therefore passing for most of the game).  That’s fantastic, and I acknowledge that.  But there were a lot of times where Savage could sit in the pocket, and that can’t happen with our secondary.

The offense looked well balanced and had an excellent day.  Bill Stull had a decent game (ignoring the fumble).  A few poorly thrown balls, but nothing dangerous, and he was very productive.  He’s not afraid to scramble this year.  He did it twice this evening which will open things up for him in the future.  Our stable of running backs is incredible.  Rutgers is a very, very good defense up front, and we made them look ridiculous tonight.  That’s hard to do.  Dion Lewis had a game that should open up some eyes around the country.  I wonder how long we can continue to pull great young running backs out of our behinds?

Dan Hutchins is going to take a lot of crap for this game.  I’m not going to kill the guy.  He’s been alright this year.  But I will say this: Kevin Harper has a bigger leg, but isn’t as accurate from what I’ve heard.  If today isn’t an anomaly, Hutchins is taking away the one thing that’s keeping him in the job.  He’ll have to make it a pretty long trend to get out of Wanny’s good graces, though.  He’s one forgiving coach.

We had a period at the end of the first half where we just got stupid and undisciplined.  Luckily, it only cost us 3 points, and we corrected it at halftime, but what was that?

Overall, you can’t be upset with this game.  There were some areas to improve, obviously.  But Rutgers is a solid team.  And they’ve had our number for a while now.  The defense played solid.  The offense played solid.  We made some mistakes at key times, and that’s what kept Rutgers in the game.  We eliminate those, and we’re going to be tough to beat this year.  South Florida is next.  Very fast, spread offense.  They’re a WVU knock-off.  They even copied WVU’s penchant a few years ago for stupid penalties.  They shot themselves in the foot against Cincy.  Lets hope they afford us the same courtesy next Saturday.

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Pitt 24 UConn 21

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Well, this was far from a pretty win, but in college football, all that matters is the final result.  The defense was so-so, and the offense was bi-polar, but it’s a win.  More than that, it’s a conference win against a solid mid-tier team that really will define who’s a contender and who’s a pretender in the conference.  UConn won’t win the Big East, but they’re going to a bowl game.  I’ll take it.

I’ll keep you waiting on the defensive thoughts for a moment.  Let’s first concentrate on that offense, shall we?  The offense revolves around the quarterback, and ours unfortunately is hot and cold.  This week he decided to be both at the same time.  He made some pretty good throws that were right on the hands of the receivers.  He also made some poor decisions including two interceptions.  The first interception was a miscommunication between him and the receiver.  He locked eyes with his receiver for an improvised route.  The receiver juked left and went right.  Stull unfortunately bit on the juke and threw left right to a UConn defender.  He has to wait until a receiver is open to throw, but that’s an understandable mistake.  He’d been holding the ball for a few seconds and he wanted to get rid of it.  The second interception was totally his fault.  He didn’t look off the secondary, and a safety read his eyes and jumped the route.  If you focus on one man, that will happen every time.  A senior quarterback can’t make that mistake.  I think that was the most troubling thing I saw from Bill all day.  Not looking off his safeties and missing an open man because he’s too focused on his reads.  They’re both indicative of the same problem: not reading the defense.  But, I guess we have to live with him.  Having a hit or miss quarterback is better than having a purely terrible one.

Besides Stull, the rest of the offense had a fairly good day.  UConn focused on the run, putting 8 in the box a lot.  That’s okay.  Dion Lewis and Ray Graham took what was given and were content.  Their job on Saturday was to keep the defense honest and keep the passing game open, and they seemed to understand that.  The offensive line had a fine day pass protecting.  There were some hurries, but against a great defense like UConn’s, that’s going to happen.  I guess the only thing I can nit pick is that there were a few dropped passes.  But this isn’t the pros.  Guys will drop passes occasionally.  It happens.

The defense seemed to struggle a bit, even though they only gave up 14 points (7 were on an interception return).  The defensive line sure didn’t look like the overpowering force they were made out to be in the pre-season.  UConn was manhandling us in the trenches.  We struggled both stopping the run and getting pressure on the quarterback.  The latter problem really put some pressure on our secondary which isn’t a good position at all for this team.  I think a lot of this was that the defense was not put in a position to succeed.  The entire game I think I saw one play where we were in something besides our base 4-3 defense.  On obvious passing plays, that puts pressure on the linebackers by forcing them into coverage.  If you’re not bringing a linebacker in to blitz, the extra man in the secondary on 3rd and long would really have helped on a number of occasions.  As for the run, I think UConn was successful because of the tremendous amount of blockers they put in.  For most of the game, they would put in a tight end and a fullback both to block, which meant they only had 2 true receivers on the field.  That’s in invitation to switch to a 5-2 or a 5-3 and try to out-man them on the line.  As it was, they had 7 men blocking and we had 7 in the box.  They put a hat on a hat every time and got gaping holes for their running backs.  It’s the defensive line’s job to get off blocks and make the tackle, but if you don’t see that happening, you have to put an extra man in the box and out-man them.  I didn’t get the defensive play-calling at all.

So, overall, not a good game from really anybody (including the coaches), but I’ll take the win.  I saw the stadium kind of clear out when we were down by 15, and I think that it spoke volumes about the program.  We consistently lose games where we fall behind in the second half.  We’re not a comeback team.  We’re a play good defense and hope we score enough to win team.  I hope this sparks a trend that makes Pitt football a bit more exciting.  Having a dynamic offense that can stage a comeback like that is new around here.  Maybe that would earn a few new fans, as well.  Also, I hope that kicking a game-winner does wonders for Dan Hutchins’ confidence.  The place kicking is as weak as I can remember it.  Short week and then Rutgers on Friday.  The Scarlet Knights are a game we need to win if we want to remain a serious player in the Big East.

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