Tag Archives: Pitt Football

Pitt 19 UNC 17

image from charlottesportstravel.com

Game Recap

Boy, it’s really nice to finally end a season with a win.  Pitt’s been on a 3 game skid with bowls, and it’s been frustrating.  I’ll be honest.  We didn’t have our best game of the season, but we played well.  Besides, it could have been worse (see last year’s Sun Bowl).  There’s weren’t a lot of mistakes, and there was even a big surprise which bodes well for next year (more on that later).  In fact, we probably out-played the Tar Heels by more than 2 points considering some of the bad bounces that didn’t go our way here.

Offensively, it was obviously the Dion Lewis show.  He was the bowl game MVP, and he earned it.  159 yards on 28 carries is impressive against anyone, but UNC has one of the better defenses in the country.  I have to admit that I was surprised by it.  I think Lewis was just plain quicker than the UNC defense.  I’m not sure if the Tar Heels have racked up their gaudy numbers by stopping a bunch of power guys (I don’t follow UNC football too much), but they were certainly a little slow to the outside.  Credit the coaching staff for seeing that and exploiting it.  Bill Stull didn’t have his best day ever, and I’m not sure why.  He looked awfully rushed, and threw off his back foot a lot.  The offensive line was allowing a bit of pressure, but they were giving him more than enough time.  I think it just looked like he was afraid to get hit out there.  The numbers don’t back me up.  He was 17 for 24 with 163 yards.  But a lot of those misses were his fault and way overthrown because of throwing off his back foot.  And most of those 17 completions were dump offs and timing routes (once again, credit the coaching staff for giving him throws he could make on a day he was struggling.  Matt Cavenaugh are you listening?).  Overall, he was a very serviceable quarterback (don’t get me wrong), but he wasn’t staying strong in the pocket and D1 quarterback (a senior D1 quarterback no less) has no excuse for not doing that.  I guess that’s the line on Bill Stull in general as he departs.  He had a lot of flaws.  He was never going to be great (no matter how much you booed him).  But at least his flaws were consistent so you could game plan around them.

Defensively, I was a bit disappointed.  The Tar Heels are hardly what you would call a juggernaut offensively.  I know that the secondary is usually what takes the heat on this defense, but they are the phase I was actually the most pleased with.  Nobody knows his name, but Greg Little has been a special receiver all year.  He’s the leading receiver on UNC by about 300 yards.  That’s incredible.  And he showed just what he could do with that really special catch in the end zone.  That was about as well defended as you can get.  He just made a great play (and then showed his big flaw by losing his head and punting the ball into the stands, but I digress).  The Tar Heels average 175 yards a game through the air.  They got 183 on Saturday.  There’s nothing to be mad at there.  The real disappointment for me in this game was the front 7.  We allowed an average of 3.6 yards per carry which is an invitation to rush the ball 3 times and get a first down consistently.  But that doesn’t tell the story.  What made that number go up was a bunch of long runs that had no business being as extended as they were.  We missed a lot of tackles.  A whole lot.  It was just like the NC State game (maybe its playing in North Carolina?).  There’s no excuse for it.  I saw way too many arm tackles that shouldn’t be happening at the end of a season.  There was no reason we shouldn’t have dominated this game up front and forced them to throw.  Just very disappointing.

There was a couple of really nice surprises in this game.  First of all, Dan Hutchins shook off an early game miss to get his next 4.  He’s never had the biggest leg and he hasn’t been our most accurate kicker ever by a long shot.  But it was nice to see him refuse to fold mentally.  That’s a lot tougher than you might think.  That being said, he’s really limited our offense this year by making them drive a lot deeper to get some points.  Here’s hoping Kevin Harper’s been improving his accuracy so that we can have a bigger leg step out there.  The other (and probably more important) surprise was Chris Jacobson.  He stepped out on the offensive line for the injured Joe Thomas and played extremely well.  We’re losing 3 guys off a very very good offensive line.  So knowing that one of those 3 holes can be filled without much of a drop is a big relief.  I think this win bodes really well for next season, though how that offensive line holds up will have a lot to do with how good we are.  This was a very encouraging game, and like I said, it’s nice to end the season on a good note again.  Finally.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pitt 44 Cincinnati 45

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Ugh.  That’s about all you can say about this one.  It’s extremely disappointing to be on the losing end of a close game like this, but surprisingly I’m more okay with this game than I have been for others.  I think it’s because we played a good game.  We made some mistakes, but I think the game as a whole was a good representation of our abilities.  We gave it a good shot, and we came up short.  We were beaten by a better team.  That’s the breaks, and that’s something I’m willing to accept.

Now, I will say that it’s frustrating coming from a classical school of thought with football.  I think most people growing up with football in Western PA love the classic 3 yards and a cloud of dust game.  It’s not just Pittsburgh, though.  It’s a rust belt thing.  They love it all over the Big 10.  They love it in Cleveland where the Browns used to play that way in their heyday.  Cincy doesn’t play that game.  They play a new spread passing offense.  They don’t want to beat you up.  They don’t care if you score a lot.  Just as long as at the end of the day they come out with one more point than their opponent.  There are a lot of people who think that it’s a cheap way to play and almost consider it a bit dishonorable.  But, it’s not.  It’s smart.  It takes advantage of the fact that there are over 100 D1 schools which dilutes the talent at the college level, and more importantly takes advantage of the fact that these are all kids who make mistakes.  Every spread offense is designed to get the play-makers in single match-ups and take advantage of a single mistake.  It’s a good bet in the college game.  Now, just to be sure so I don’t get a bunch of angry comments here, I’m not saying that it’s the best way to go.  Just a smart way to go.  The basic vanilla game plan Pitt plays wins a lot of games.  It wins against a lot of different teams.  If Cincy runs up against a team with an outstanding secondary with a couple of shut-down defenders, they’re screwed.  If they run into a team that gets the counterpoint defense to their scheme, they’re screwed.  Because they can only hurt you one way.  And they’ve built their program around it.  If someone comes up with a scheme to stop them that anyone can play, they’ve invested a few years of recruiting specific kids that fit the system, and they don’t know another way to score.  They’d be stuck.  So, in the long run, Pitt is in a good place.  We have a well-rounded team that’s playing at a high level.  It’ll be good again next year, too.  But on Saturday, we were bested.  And that’s fine.

Just some random thoughts after hearing the complaints from fans:

  • Dave Wannstedt does not deserve to be fired.  He didn’t lose this game.  True, he didn’t figure out a scheme to stop Cincy’s air attack, but neither have the other 11 teams that played them this year.
  • Continuing the last point, I didn’t see anything wrong with how the end game was handled.  I’ve heard a ridiculous thought that Dion Lewis should have gone down instead of scoring a touchdown so we could run more clock.  Are you serious?  First of all, Wanny was already running the ball.  He was trying to wind the clock down as much as he could, but if you can score a touchdown, you score it.  Did you not see the extra point afterward?  Anything can happen with a kick in that weather.  Anything can happen on any play.  Take the points when you can get ’em.
  • Which is a nice segment to the next point.  The botched extra point didn’t lose us the game.  Remember: Cincy doinked one off the upright earlier in the game.  They just had an opportunity to go for two and get it back.  The missed extra point didn’t lose the game for us.  If anything, the timing of it did.
  • The refs.  Well, there were some questionable calls, to be sure.  But when is that not the case in a college football game?  Plus, there’s been a precedent set in the college game.  Teams that a conference benefits the most from winning have mysteriously been getting a lot of calls this year.  Overall, I don’t think much of the conspiracy in this game.  None of the penalties ultimately affected the outcome.  I think there are a few calls that stick out in my brain because I’m a Pitt fan and I’m naturally going to remember calls that go against me more than for me.  But, at worst, it was something that shouldn’t be too surprising (which bring me to a rant on why college refs should be full-time NCAA employees instead of hired by the conference, but I won’t go there).
  • The WVU game is still meaningless.  Sorry, ‘eers fans.  With the special considerations the Gator Bowl made to take a 6-6 Florida St. while screwing over the ACC, they would have absolutely screwed over the Big East and taken an 8-4 WVU over a 10-2 Pitt.  We would have gone to the Car Care bowl no matter what happened last week.  This was the big game.
  • A note to Cincy fans: you were loud and proud in Heinz Field.  It was good to see from a Big East school.  Kudos.  But enjoy being on top while you can.  Brian Kelly is leaving (maybe not to Notre Dame.  Maybe not even this year.  But schools with big checkbooks will come knocking.  Don’t kid yourself).  And when Brian Kelly leaves, you’d better hire a pass happy coach.  I realize that Zach Collaros can run, but you’re still a system team that’s been recruiting guys that play a certain way.  If that doesn’t jive with a new coach, you’re in for some misery.  Just ask your buddies down in Louisville what happens when you have a passing system that gets handed to a guy who wants to change things.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Huge Recap

image from sspreowned.com

Well well.  My computer picked an awful bad week to just decide to crap out.  Every team I talk about had at least one game.  So I’m just going to run down my current thoughts on each, and then I can move forward like nothing happened.  Sound good?  Alright.  Let’s go.

Steelers

I’ll lead off with ‘dem Stillers cuz I know that’s what yinz guys like to hear about.  Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that the world is ending for the Steelers.  We’ve lost 3 in a row for the first time in years.  We’ve got our quarterback and star receiver arguing.  We’re on the verge of missing out on the playoffs.  There is no doubt that the world is going to end tomorrow.  So.  Now that you’re caught up, how do we save the world (or just the Steelers)?  Well, first things first.  How do we get everyone to just get along?  I mean its bad enough that the Bengals took our division lead…did they have to give us their drama on the way?  C’mon!  For those that aren’t in Pittsburgh and/or haven’t been paying attention, Hines Ward said in an interview that he’s played hurt and insinuated that Ben should too.  Ben allegedly went through the locker room saying ‘good luck without me guys’ in a sarcastic tone.  That’s a very high level recap, but the actual details don’t matter.  What matters is  what happens on the field.  How do we cut this beef between Ben and Hines up, grill it up and eat it so that we can play better?  Well, the short answer is win.  There is no drama in a winning locker room because there is no blame in a winning locker room.  The long answer is that Ben and Hines need to sit down and talk about this.  It was an obvious misunderstanding.  Both were frustrated at the time of their incidents.  In fact, I’m fairly sure that they’ve already talked (being that they’re grown men and this is an obvious step to take for two people striving towards a common goal).  So, in short, I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either.  So with that cleared up, what is wrong with this team on the field?  Well, besides the obvious injuries I mean.  The defense seems to be giving up a lot more ground (especially in the fourth quarter) than they ever have before.  I’m just stumped as to why.  It could be because they’re getting old and tired at the end of games.  It could be because we really miss Troy.  My personal guess is that it’s the cornerbacks.  These have been come from behind fourth quarter wins in the past 3 weeks.    That means the other team has been throwing a lot.  If a team is most successful coming back in the 4th because they’re throwing, and we usually step up our blitz when we’re ahead, the only thing left is the corners that need to step up.  Maybe if they just jam their receivers a bit more at the line to buy some time it would help.  But I really don’t know.  That’s just a guess.  The special teams has also been awful.  If it’s not a kickoff being returned for a touchdown, it was awful punt coverage against Baltimore.  We just can’t win.  But, unfortunately, you can’t do much with special teams beside get guys in who really want to be there.  The one thing you can’t say much about is the offense.  They’ve been fine.  The loss of Ben hurt last week, but hey, it happens.  We’re much more balanced lately which I love.  So, in conclusion, the secondary will hopefully improve with Troy coming back soon which I hope will shore up the defense, the offense looks good already, and we just have to cross our fingers and hope the special teams don’t cost us too many games.  Oakland comes into town next week, so that should be a great opportunity to get back on track (though I said the same thing about Kansas City a couple of weeks ago.  Gulp).

Pitt Football

Hmmm……well that was a fairly depressing recap I just finished, and it isn’t going to get much better here.  The loss to WVU was ugly.  We didn’t just play poorly.  WVU played poorly and we played even worse.  I hate to say it, but this one goes on Billy Stull.  Now, as Mike Tomlin would say: ‘he’s got some money in my emotional bank account’, so I’m going to dismiss this as one bad game and not get on him too bad.  However, he played awful and he’d admit it.  He was overthrowing and underthrowing everybody.  It makes me wonder if he just gets tired at the end of a season (remember: he was alright leading up to the Rutgers game last year, though not as good as this season).  His inability to pass made us completely one-dimensional.  That will lose you a game every time.  Now, usually, when a quarterback is struggling, he’ll go with a lot of dump-offs.  Just to get back in a rhythm.  I saw a couple of passes to Dickerson (which he dropped.  He also had a terrible game).  But I only saw 2 passes to Dion Lewis.  You’ve got to dump off to him a bit more in that situation just to get some completions.  It seemed like he was chucking it to Baldwin every time.  I understand that Baldwin probably had a mismatch, but you can’t keep trying something that doesn’t work (well, it finally did in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t worth the total effort and wasted downs).  But, lucky for us, this game didn’t matter.  We still win the Big East with a win on Saturday.  And no matter what people will tell you, there was no way the Gator Bowl was taking us even if we won.  Especially with Bowden crying for one last gasp of attention (he wants to play his last bowl game in Florida and furthermore against WVU if he can because he used to coach there).  This loss probably just dropped us from Charlotte to Birmingham/Toronto if we lose on Saturday.  So crappy bowl to crappier bowl.  Hmmm…..  Not that big of a loss.  But this is still a huge game on Saturday.  Who would have thought that the River City Rivalry would ever mean anything?

Penguins

The Pens have been the most busy of any team.  Since I last left you, they’ve gone 3-1 including a home and home sweep of the Rangers.  Now that we’ve got some guys returning from injury we’re really playing at a high level.  Sid really seems to be on a role, but I think that may have more to do with the Rangers opening the ice to the coast to coast game that he really excels at.  The power play is still my biggest concern, by far.  I have no idea why this team struggles so much, except to say that we look for the perfect shot way to much.  The power play is a time for decent shots, not great shots.  But, overall, you have to be pleased with the play of this team.  Overlooking a hickup on Long Island, we’ve really been controlling the puck well and doing an excellent job being physical and checking teams.  It’s a return to that great play we started the season off with, and I’m going to run out of ways to say ‘we’re awesome’ before too long.  But Colorado will be a tough test on Thursday.

Pitt Basketball

Pitt only had one game over the long weekend: a fairly easy one against Youngstown State.  The game story was that it was a close game for the first 30 minutes before Pitt finally out-lasted them in the final 10.  I think the general assumption is that we had superior depth compared to YSU, and that’s what eventually won us the game.  I noticed something, but I haven’t read it in any recaps yet, so here it goes: we finally figured out their zone with about 10 minutes left and that’s what lead to the turnaround.  YSU played a classic 2-3 zone from start to finish.  It was fairly obvious that Coach Dixon thought it was very slow on the rotation.  He was having the team do a lot of perimeter passing trying to pass the ball faster than the defense could react.  Either it will open up an open 3-point shot or it will open up a lane to pass the ball into the post.  Well, the defense was slow to rotate alright, but when we saw the open space we didn’t take the jumper, our eyes light up and we drove the lane…..right into the teeth of the defense.  We had a ton of turnovers that way.  The only reason we stayed in the game was that Youngstown had a horrible offense and absolutely no frontcourt presence.  We also crushed them on the glass which didn’t hurt.  With about 10 minutes left, we finally started to attack the zone the right way and take what the defense gave us.  It was like the light bulb finally went on that ‘Hey!  Coach Dixon might know what he’s talking about.  Maybe we should try his advice’.  And, what do you know?  It worked.  I hope that’s the last of our struggles against the 2-3 zone, because as I said before, that’s something we’ll see a lot this year.  Duquesne is up next in the city game and the last college b-ball game in the Mellon Civic Arena.  I think this will be a really hard test for Pitt.  Much harder than most people think.  I wouldn’t even be surprised to come out with a loss in this one.  But I sure hope I’m wrong.

Pirates

….still suck.  Actually, they signed some guys this week, but no one of consequence.  We’re going to trot out a AAA team again next year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pitt 27 Notre Dame 22

 

image from espn.com

 

Game Recap

That was a great win last night, but I can’t help but feel a little empty looking back at it.  I guess that’s because we didn’t quite accomplish the goal.  The game was meaningless in the standings.  The goal was to prove to the nation that we were for real.  That we were something to watch.  Well, reading the postgame stories, it appears that the story line is that we survived Notre Dame and got some questionable calls at the end to hold them off.  That’s misleading to say the least.  We out-played the Irish for 3 quarters.  The questionable calls?  Well, that certainly was a chop block.  There’s no arguing that one.  As for the fumble at the end?  Well, looking at the replay, it looks like the ball came out at the back of his windup.  Exactly in no-mans land fumble wise.  Now, I understand the Irish argument of how the ball went forward if it was a fumble.  Well, the defenders arm was also swinging forward at the time of the fumble following Clausen’s arm path.  So the ball is going forward fumble or not.  Looking closer at a replay, I would have ruled it an incompletion.  I can see the ball going forward, but not that far forward if it were a fumble.  And I wish they would have ruled it an incompletion, too.  Notre Dame was facing a 4th and 16 and some long odds to getting the winning score.  Even with their great passing game.  I would have liked to see them lose by themselves and take away any doubt.  Though, in hindsight, any doubt would have been removed if we hadn’t allowed that punt return, either.  But, alas, that’s not the case.   We won.  We got zero respect for it.  I had a sinking suspicion that this was a no-win game for Pitt.  Either we lose and the Big East is weak and so are we, or we win and Notre Dame gets torn apart in national perception this year and we still have no “quality” wins.   That’s exactly what happened.

But, anyway, lets step away from my frustrations as a fan of a non-insane-amount-of-fans team and examine the actual game, shall we?  When the Irish had the ball, it was no surprise how much Notre Dame relied on the passing game.  The Irish had 42 passing downs and 25 rushing attempts (as compared to 27 passing plays and 32 rushing plays for Pitt).  Notre Dame only got 66 rushing yards on the day, but it appeared like a lot more with Armando Allen busting off a few good 10 yard rushes.  The Irish offensive line is huge.  They average 315 pounds per man with the shortest guy being 6’4″.  They’re monsters.  They’re in stark contrast to our much quicker by smaller defensive line.  You saw both strengths get highlighted on different plays.  There were times when the Irish line just got in our path and wouldn’t let us through.  That was when Clausen would get what looked like 10  seconds to make a throw or Allen would get to run 8 yards before being touched.  On the other hand, if we got  around them, they weren’t going to catch up.  That’s when you saw us flush Clausen out of the pocket (we only had 1 sack, but a lot of pressures) or make a throw he wasn’t ready for.  The defensive backs played a very nice game.  But, as I’ve said in previous posts, the defensive backs have never been the problem this season.  When we’ve gotten exposed by a passing game, it’s by little over the middle stuff that attacks our outside linebackers in coverage.  Notre Dame didn’t run one crossing route all game.  That was a mistake.  Throwing toss-ups to Golden Tate is not a bad idea.  The kid is a freak athlete, and I was really impressed by him.  He has outstanding hands, and then can kill you when he’s got possession of the ball.  But, that’s still not attacking Pitt’s weak spot.  They had some success throwing dump-offs towards the sidelines.  I’m wondering why they didn’t expand on that success.

Offensively, we showed a lot of balance.  The Notre Dame defense kept switching back and forth between stacking the rush and dropping into coverage for the first couple of quarters.  They finally decided on blitzing with an eye towards stopping the run.  No matter what they did, we found a way to counter.  We did a fantastic job of picking up blitzes.  That right there is the single biggest reason that we came out a winner in this one.  Bill Stull had a clean jersey all game, and just picked apart the Irish defense.  Dion Lewis didn’t have much against a much bigger front 7 than he’s faced before, but he stayed patient.  He had the one big 50 yard touchdown run, but didn’t break off any other big ones.  To his credit, he didn’t get frustrated and just took what was given.  He ended up getting 102 yards on 20 carries (excluding the big 50 yarder).  He sure didn’t play like a freshman.  Jonathan Baldwin stole the show offensively.  He made a couple of very athletic catches that brought back some shades of some guy named Larry that just rolled through Pittsburgh a few years ago.  Who says we’re no longer wide receiver U?

Overall, the national perception of this game is disappointing, but at least we got the win.  It’s much better than the alternative.  I don’t think any Pitt fans were surprised by the performance the team gave yesterday, and we’ve got a couple of more games in this season to make the rest of the country wake up and smell the coffee, too.  The Backyard Brawl being the first of them a week from Friday.  I think Morgantown will be foaming at the mouth considering what happened the last time we were down there.  To tell you the truth, I’m kind of glad that the game is meaningless in the Big East.  I think we’ve got more talent, but you never want to have something on the line when a team is looking for revenge like that.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pitt 37 Syracuse 10

 

image from espn.com

 

Game Recap

Well, what can you honestly say about this game?  I mean, it was exactly what you expected from this matchup.  Syracuse’s defense was the heart of the team and made us work for every point we put up.  The Orange offense, however, couldn’t score.  At all.  They marched down the field on basically one play then settle for a field goal to start the game, then go 3 and a half quarters without doing anything, followed by a 5 penalty drive that gifted them a touchdown.  In that drive, Syracuse gained 39 total yards on penalties and 19 yards by their own doing.  All 5 penalties gave them first downs.  If I’m Syracuse, I’ve got too much pride to let someone gift me a score like that.  I mean, if the refs giving you pity touchdowns isn’t a sign that you suck, I don’t know what is.

The actual play by the team was nice.  The secondary has continued its streak of terrific play after a shaky start to say the least (but they weren’t really tested all that much in this one).  The run defense was pushed a little bit because Syracuse has some excellent running backs.  I was disappointed in the run-stop (especially because they were one-dimensional.  If you can’t stop what you know is coming, you have some serious issues), but it’s at least excusable for one week.  Offensively, we again showed a ton of balance.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I can’t remember this many weapons on one Pitt team before.  I think that’s the real secret to our success right there.  Both facets of the offense work to open the other up.  It’s terrific.

I mean, I’m running into the same problem with Pitt that I’ve run into for a few times with the Pens.  Unless you’re completely inept (like the Pirates), it’s much easier to pick apart what’s wrong than to praise the same things after every game.  I don’t know what else to say about this Pitt team.  The offense is fantastic.  I feel lucky every time I step into Heinz Field that I get to watch them (and I wish more people would want to experience that.  I’m tired of seeing yellow).  The defense isn’t perfect, but it’s darn good.  And certainly good enough to win given the offense this team has.  Now comes the fun part: the final exam we all knew was coming.  These final 3 games will define a lot.  Our perception is most likely about to change: for the better or worse.  Both nationally, and more importantly, right here in Pittsburgh.  We can either be the new and improved Pitt that has returned to prominence, or the same old Pitt that becomes a paper tiger when the games get tough.  Next week will be important not just for Pitt, but the Big East.  If we win, there’s a chance that we could reclaim the Gator Bowl for the Big East and send Notre Dame to Charlotte.  If we lose, it doesn’t hurt us (except for the rankings and prestige), but Notre Dame almost certainly gets the Gator Bowl.  Should be a packed house for once, and a really exciting game.  I’m already looking forward to it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pitt 41 South Florida 14

image from espn.com

image from espn.com

Game Recap

Wow. Just wow. I had no idea that Pitt had a game like this in them. I had a knot in my stomach leading up to this game because these are the games that Pitt generally loses. We always get expectations up and then fall on our faces. Well, this was a statement game, I guess. This team will not be doing that. I was discussing with my dad, and neither of us could come up with a lopsided score like this in Pitt’s recent history (that wasn’t against a 1-AA team). Well, after a little research, our memories are just bad. Last year Louisville came into Heinz Field and lost 41-7. But we were favored pretty handily in that one. The last game that we turned into a laugher that wasn’t supposed to be was not in the 80’s surprisingly. It was in 2006 when Virginia opened up the season coming to Pittsburgh. We were a 3 point favorite, but ran away with it 38-13. Now, UVA turned out to be pretty bad that year, but there’s no saying USF will improve, either. We’ll see. But I think the fact that I couldn’t come up with one of those blow-outs was telling. The general perception of the Pitt team is that they always fall short of expectations. This could be a big year where we finally exceed expectations. I really hope so.

As for the play on the field, there’s not much you can really say. All 3 facets of the game were clicking. The offense was unstoppable. We got 214 rushing yards against a very very good defensive line. Bill Stull completed 18 of 25 balls for 245 yards. A fine day that even his critics can’t poke too many holes in. I think the reason for the offensive success was balance. USF came out determined to stop the run, and they did. So we threw the ball all over the yard on them. So they backed off. Then the running game opened up. They couldn’t win any way they played. That’s the reason that we can match up against anyone offensively (man, didn’t think I’d type that sentence this season). But the best stat of the day was that we were 11-16 on 3rd down. That will win you a lot of ballgames.

The defense was just as dominant. We only allowed 90 yards in the air, but more importantly limited the Bulls to 122 yards on the ground. USF lives with the running game. When we shut that down, they were sunk. We did an excellent job kepping B.J. Daniels contained in the pocket after struggling earlier in the year with mobile quarterbacks. *cough Russell Wilson cough* I think this defense has really improved since the N.C. State loss. I’m not sure what made them click, but I’ll go with it. We had 4 sacks. Usually, I’d say that’s good but this line can do better. However, you have to look at the other team in this one. Daniels was scrambling half of the time, so there’s little room to sack him. The secondary, after starting out real slow, had 3 picks in this game. I tore them down, I’ll give them credit when it’s due. (I still think the problems with the secondary were more problems with the outside linebackers, but I’ll drop that for now).

There are two more great things that happened that I have to point out. First, Bill Stull stayed clean the whole game. Not one sack. Tino Sunseri got hit in garbage time, but the first string offensive line did a great job protecting, and I haven’t heard much praise for them (I guess there’s too much to go around in this one). The second thing: we didn’t punt all game. Not. Once. I never thought I would see a Pitt team do that. Ever. I’m still flabbergasted looking at the stat sheet. If that doesn’t show the strength of our offense, I don’t know what does. We’ve got a by-week coming up and then Syracuse. The team can’t overlook them, but I will for the fun of it. IF we get by ‘Cuse, it sets up 3 monster games to end the season, and all three are within an hour of Pittsburgh. It should generate some much needed pub for this football team. Just cross your fingers that it’s good pub and not bad pub.

Oh, P.S.: the rankings are out and if you haven’t yet seen, Pitt is number 15/16 16/17 (we’re 15 in the BCS poll.  Sorry). That in itself will turn some heads in the city.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized