September 21, 2008

I had to leave midway through the 3d Quarter. The 6-year old girl was fine, but a 17-month old boy in the sun just was gassed. We left just before Iowa took a 17-14 lead. I had promised the wife that I would leave after Pitt’s next series. Unfortunately for me, that was in the midst of Pitt’s 5 straight 3-and-outs.

I’m stunned Pitt managed to win the game. Honestly, the Pitt coaches did their best to lose this game. Even before the half, we were looking at each other and saying “Bowling Green.” It’s like, the minute that Pitt reaches a double digit lead, Wannstedt decided that it was up to the defense to win the game and castrated the offense. As much as Cavanaugh’s playcalling and offense enrages me, I put it on Wannstedt.

The whole tone and style of the offense changed. You know this was what he wanted. It’s all runs and time to eat the clock. Can’t risk a pass because there could be turnover, the clock would stop on an incompletion and/or if theres’ a sack field position is at risk. There’s a reason the fans were booing Pitt before the first half even ended. The fans in the stands knew what they were seeing.

Thankfully, the Iowa coaching staff was able to top Pitt. The stubbornness at sticking with Christensen in the second half. That and Shonn Greene may have been hurt.

To say nothing of the fact that Iowa is one of the few teams in college that Wannstedt can actually coach against. They play standard pro-style. Right down to the conservative playing for field-position POV.

If Bill Stull doesn’t step into his throws, they are going to suck. He is decent enough, but his arm strength is not there to let him try and throw without using his body.

Anyone shocked that Baldwin still doesn’t have a catch? Or that after Greg Cross gets a TD on his first touch in the first quarter and he only gets one more chance in the final few minutes of the 4th quarter when everyone knows Pitt will not do anything but run. It’s like Wannstedt resented the fact that the “gimmick” offense worked.

The defense is being overworked. There’s no reason teams shouldn’t stack against the run. Especially if they are losing. Everyone knows what Pitt will do. The coaches will kill their own momentum.

If Pitt had lost, you know Wannstedt would have blamed it on turnovers? Afterall Pitt had a fumble and an Int. Iowa only had one fumble. Clearly it was the turnover battle.

I know. A win’s a win. Hard to be too enthusiastic. Just relieved.

After reading Ron Cook at the Post-Gazette, I wasn’t sure if the columnists saw the same game I did.
But then there is reliable Chas, saying how it is. Having left with 5 minutes left in the game for a prior obligation with Pitt up 21-20, I was sure that Pitt would blow it.
Yes we won. Congrats to the team. But there is no reason to become complacent with this team yet. Win the next two games (the next one handily) and I will agree with Mr. Cook that Pitt is on the right track.
As for now, Pitt is still falling short of expectations. 5 straight three and outs? Seriously?
Throw the ball on first down. Do some good old college trickery. If Wanny looked at the films of his big wins, he will find that there were a few tricks/going for it on fourth down/gambles that lead to thw win. We have the talent and we arent playing an NFL Defense – this is college. Tricks work.
Now that I have rambled, I am proud of this team. Good for Shady for saying the win is more important than personal stats. And more importantly, good for Pitt that Shady will likely be a junior at Pitt rather than a rookie in the league.
Win the next two, and Bowling Green is behind me. Stumble and I will continue to be mad that I am flying cross country to see this team.

Comment by wannstache 09.21.08 @ 3:43 am

ok now the important stuff.. did any body here anything about the basketball recruits at the game?

Comment by dc 09.21.08 @ 4:13 am

Too many 3 and outs. Stull gets “happy feet” and bails out on plays too soon. We need more than two series for Cross and more throws to Byham and Dickerson. They did try a flea-flicker, that’s about as innovative as DW and MC get. Happy for the win, we need to improve before the Bulls game.

Comment by Pittastic 09.21.08 @ 5:57 am

….and nothing will ever be good enough.

Yes, maybe PITT didn’t play up to the pre-season hype. But what I watched yesterday was a team that stuck through adversity to pull out a win against a decent, undefeated BCS conference team.

Bitch as much as you want about the conservative coaching, but it won us the game in the fourth quarter. Anyone with two eyes can tell you that DW will do anything to avoid turnovers at all costs, and running the ball – and playing the field position advantage late in the game – set this win up. We did see some things that we’ve wanted to – and again, as is DW’s style, he puts a taste in before he does a lot of it – but let’s not bitch about his showing his players he trusts them and then going 3-3 on fourth down conversions.

I want to see more points on the scoreboard also, but more importantly I want to see us have one more point than the other team at the end – and that’s what we got.

How about, after looking at all the aspects of the game we didn’t do so well in, and they are there, we also look at some bright spots. Our O line gave the QB time to throw, our D line rose to the occasion and put pressure on the QB, our pass defense was good, and our special teams contributed. We gave up some big yardage plays then made Iowa waste those plays as we held them without TDs in three series, something that didn’t happen in the past.

I’ll take it… and give those kids, and their coaches, well deserved congratulations for a hard earned win against a decent opponent.

Comment by Reed 09.21.08 @ 6:22 am

Why, Why, Why 5 minutes to go in the game and we get the ball back. 3 snaps 3 running plays Stull snaps the ball with 12 seconds on the play clock. Learn from Roethlisberger, he always snaps the ball with less than 1 second on the play clock.

Comment by Andy 09.21.08 @ 7:39 am

Has Stull completed a pass in the flat this season? He is even a worse flat-passer than (shall I say it) .. Kordell Stewart who had no touch at all. Stull also telgraphed a couple of throws that were easy knock-downs; I know this was only his 3rd start but needs to get much better

Comment by wild Bill 09.21.08 @ 7:56 am

Listening to the game on Sirius radio, the announcer kept questioning why Pitt after being aggressive on offense went so conservative after they had the lead…play to not looose!

Comment by markp 09.21.08 @ 8:27 am

When you are up 14-3 go for the KILL!!!

The coaching staff is too conservative, it cost them the BGSU game and it almost cost them this game.

The fundamentals are in place for a decent team and a decent year but I’m sorry our coaching is a train wreck.

Comment by Anton 09.21.08 @ 8:40 am


Complements of the Sunday Trib.

RECRUITING TRAIL: Two Pitt Class of 2009 basketball recruits — Dante Taylor, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Fort Washington (Md.), and Lamar Patterson, a 6-5 wing from Newark (N.J.) St. Benedict — attended, along with two highly regarded players considering Pitt: Durand Scott, a 6-4 shooting guard from New York and Talib Zanna, a 6-9 forward from Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNamara. It was the first official visit for Scott, who also has offers from Louisville, Memphis and Connecticut. James Padgett, a 6-7 forward from Brooklyn, canceled his visit.

Comment by winedogs 09.21.08 @ 8:50 am

A few observations from the game:

The team looked ready to play and there was lots more emotion and focus on the sidelines (compared to Bowling Green). Players were jumping around, excited after plays, even DW was vocal and showing some energy!

As everyone else mentioned, we need to stop the playing not to lose routine after we get a lead. The crowd was deflated after seeing Bowling Green all over again. The play calling overall was pretty good, except for the over conservative approach in the late second. They used a flee flicker (underthrown or a TD), an end around, tight end Dickerson made a big catch, Cross in the wildcat (needs more touches but they did use him and effectively, they also threw more on first down. I think DW and Cav are still afraid to trust Stull especially when we start from our 20. And rightfully so. Stull seems to be able to throw a nice 15 to 20 yard pass but everything over that seems wobbly, inaccurate and often underthrown – so maybe they are extra conservative for a reason??? After all, they see practices everyday, is there a chance they know more than we do? Just asking.

The energy at Heinz was as good as I’ve seen it in a while. Over 50,000 and loud when Pitt needed them.

The sweet caroline thing is ok with me, it got fans chanting Lets Go Pitt and we can in some way call it our own. The students seemed to like it, so lets stop complaining and join in.

Greg Cross needs to see more time. I think that would take some pressure off stull and make other teams prepare for 2 QB’s.

It wasnt pretty but it was a win we needed over a quality opponent. I still believe that just like last year this team will continue to get better as the year goes on. But for now we still have a shot at a bowl game and a decent season.

Comment by Rex 09.21.08 @ 9:07 am

Agree with your assessment of the team and game. Progress has been made week to week by this team which any football coach would tell you is what they expect to see. Pitt can build on the Iowa game and pick up momentum to a good season. I still think we could use a creative OC to compliment the offensive talent.

Comment by Marty 09.21.08 @ 10:39 am

Real college programs know how to go for the kill when you get a 14-3 lead. This offensive play-calling has me REALLY missing the Walt Harris syle offense. We have the talent on offense to really score a ton of points. Shady would be terrific if we opened up the offense – we have too much talent at WR and TE to not take advantage of it!!! Cavs is just as bad at play calling as he was in college. It is really bad football to watch. Is it me, or did our QB get half of his passing batted down. Stull has yet to impress me – I appreciate Bostick during his first year more now after watching Stull again. I’d also like to see Cross get more time. OPEN THE OFFENSE UP SO I STOP FALLING ASLEEP!!!!!!!

Comment by Dishman 09.21.08 @ 10:40 am

“a Win is a Win is a Win is a Win”, Johnny Majors 1979

Comment by TMGPanther 09.21.08 @ 11:07 am

So many on these boards and chat rooms continue to claim Pitt went conservative in its play calling after getting up 14-3. IMO, you saw what you had previously convinced yourselves you would see based on the past two games even if it wasn’t there to see. IMO, what really happened was Iowa’s defense made adjustments and were applying increased pressure/push at the LOS and beginning to dominate Pitt’s OL rather than any scheme to be more conservative in play calling. That was what resulted in the 3 and outs not any deliberately conservative play calling or attempt to sit on the lead.

Comment by pitt1972 09.21.08 @ 11:21 am

Iowa’s punter did a great job keeping us pinned inside the 20. Our coaching staff had no faith in the offense to keep the innovative play calling from the 1st quarter and went into a shell. Brytus didn’t punt well at all until the last one, so Iowa got the field position advantage back in the 2nd – 3rd quarters, which let them take over. That 80 yard winning drive was a good sign, as was the defense’s resilience on a hot day, because everything else was set up to result in another loss.

Again, the coaching let us down after a great start. Starting at the 2 is one thing, but just because you start a drive on the 17 instead of the 35 is no cause to go into Operation Shutdown.

Comment by geeman2001 09.21.08 @ 11:44 am

The only team that can play a pro style offence and get away with it is So Cal. The pro game without the players is booorrring and not what college football is about. I see OSU saw the light after being embarrased in Cal. If we would have got Pryor he would still be on the bench and not ready for the playbook!! How much worse can a pass from Cross be than one from Stull!

You see all these other programs using freshmen, I think Alabama is starting 4 or 5 true freshman and aniother 4 redshirts but at Pitt they are not ready because the college game is so complex. So much bull!

I like DW but it is far past time to wake up and play college football.

Comment by J.P. 09.21.08 @ 11:48 am

I still don’t think Stull is as bad as Bostick was last year.

Stull might not be incredibly accurate and he may not have mastered the art of not staring down his receivers, but at least his throws have some zing on them.

Also, is it me or does it seem like Stull throws better balls 8-15 yards downfield than he does screens and dumpoffs in the flat?

We won, I’m not going to bitch about that. Sure we should’ve blown them out. We were faster and more skilled than Iowa, but Wanny (once again) had trouble adjusting to Iowa’s adjustments after the 1st quarter.

And being scared to do anything but run up the guy w/ Shady inside our own 30 was a bit ridiculous.

If Stull can’t throw the short stuff well, but is decent at the intermediate stuff, THEN THE THROW THE 10 YARD PASSES!!! We have the talent at WR and TE to catch those balls even if we still refuse to put in Baldwin.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 09.21.08 @ 12:03 pm

BTW, I’m not giving up on Bostick, the guy was not ready to play college football last year at all and got thrown into the fire. The redshirt year will help him a lot. I’m just saying that Stull shows gets more zing and accuracy on his intermediate passes than Bostick ever did. Now if Stull could just work on hitting the long and short stuff.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's my Dad 09.21.08 @ 12:05 pm

It’s true that Iowa made a defensive adjustment and that’s why Pitt didn’t look as good after its first two drives — but that’s the point! When the other team makes a change, you have to adjust as well, if what you originally did no longer works?! Its sheer stubborness and stupidity to keep pounding your tailback into the line when the whole stadium knows its coming and the defense has 20 guys in the box looking for it…including their cheerleaders! How many 10-15 yard shots down the middle were available to Porter, Byham, Dickerson because of it — and imagine how that would loosen things up for McCoy. Can we call Dr. Frankenstein and graft Walt and Wannstedt together? Good O and good D — what a novel concept.

Comment by Matt 09.21.08 @ 12:26 pm

Is this is the most negative board ever? I understand that Cavanaugh and Wannstedt didn’t call the best game or even a great game for that matter, but one has to say that, this offense looked totally different than it did against Bowling Green. Although the play calling is not the best it is improving. There where several deep shots taken, a reverse, a flee-flicker, and lots of throwing. While I am not defending Cavanaugh’s play calling I do think it must be acknowledged that it is improving each game. As far as the criticism of Stull, it’s ridiculous. He seems to be one of the smarter quarterbacks Pitt has had in recent memory. He reads the defense well,runs through his options, and hits his check downs. He is obviously a smart player. He has made poor throws at times (example: the pick) but it was not a bad decision, there were two open receivers. Keep in mind the guy has started 4 college games ever. He will continue to improve. His pocket poise is better than most recent QB’s as well. As far as the deep balls go. Kinder going deep isn’t a great option, he just didn’t have the speed to create separation. Also, Porter had the flee-flicker in his hands. So I wouldn’t put those on Stull. So lets not anoint Greg Cross a starting QB. Although, agreeably he should be used to mix it up more often. One of the most discouraging things about the game I think was the fans. Boo’s reign down at every opportunity including when players don’t make plays. Sometimes it is deserving for the coaching staff but it is inexcusable to boo your own players. (it was pretty embarrassing to be a pitt fan when aaron smith was booed for dropping the ball at the end of the BGSU game, and some could be heard after Porter dropped the flee-flicker). Do you know how terrible that looks to potential recruits, who visit schools where, get this, their fans actually support them? So keep up the negativity guys!

Comment by Pittsburger 09.21.08 @ 1:17 pm

I think that Stull is doing an OK job. Every QB misses some throws, but Stull’s problem is that when he misses, he misses by a long way, which makes it seem so much worse. Also, the receivers are not really helping out much with all the dropped passes. I can think of three specfic plays where the pass was on target and the WR or TE just dropped it (one of those in the end zone). There were probably more. If teams are going to stack the box, then our WR and TE need to step up and make some plays. Regarding “Sweet Caroline”: I have never been a big fan of Neil Diamond, but I have to admit, that song brought first the students, and then the rest of the crowd back to life…And the students were by far the best I have ever seen in terms of their involvement in the game. If this participation keeps growing, they will become a force like the Zoo for opposing teams to deal with. It was great to see.

Comment by HbgFrank 09.21.08 @ 1:41 pm

I was not at the game, but man we are way to negative. Its a win already. THe only thing you can be negative about is Sweet Caroline. I’m willing to bet that Bill Fralic wouldn’t sing the song. Actually, I bet he would throw any person singing the song down on the ground if he were in the stands.

Comment by PantherPride 09.21.08 @ 2:14 pm

I definitely agree with Reed- let’s enjoy the WIN. Great job by the guys getting it done.

One positive that stood out to me was on the 4th and 1 when they called the QB keeper, the O line completely blew the Iowa D line off the ball. That is a very encouraging sign. They knew it was coming, but our guys just plain beat them. HAIL TO PITT

Comment by Dan35 09.21.08 @ 3:38 pm

For those who still think we went conservative in play calling I suggest you read the thread on the scout board where a poster goes through play by play the entire series of 3 and outs play by play. It is pretty clear that there wasn’t any orchestrated conservative play calling except for the final series before the half and that was just smart play calling given the time remaining and pitt’s postition on the field and the fact that we were getting the ball back to start the 2nd half.

Comment by pitt1972 09.21.08 @ 4:53 pm

It’s a Win and for that I’m happy…did the play calling get a bit too conservative at 14-3–yes, but one time Stull and Kinder weren’t on same page on a throw about 12 yards downfield; on another, Shady busted otuside and except for a shoestring tackle, might still be running…so it’s a Win when we needed one…

A few kudos:

1. Cav for opening up the playbook at the beginning of the game. He has been villified for his play-calling all year by fans, so let’s give him some props for the first two series….and let’s in a positive manner encourage more of the same.

2. Watching on TV, Aaron Berry looked superb in his coverage–kept up with his assigned receivers and stays with them. He also had a bigtime deflection in the endzone.

3. OL…for the most part their protection on passing was good….Joe Thomas seemed to have a good day, keeping his man away from Stull.

4. LBs…the young and inexperienced guys did a good job, and Scott, despite having tissue up both nostrils to stop bleeding, never stopped.

So, our summer season ends at 2-1…and now it’s on to Syracuse.

Hail to PITT!

Comment by Oregon_Panther 09.21.08 @ 4:57 pm

What is in the Koolaid you’re drinking?

I would rank yesterday’s game as one of Aaron Berry’s worst games as a Panther. He was continually beaten, did little in the return game and committed penalites.

Send me some of those special sunglasses you’re wearing, please.

Comment by Brian 09.21.08 @ 6:40 pm

A win is a win. Yeah the coaching is questionable but I think a lot of you people are missing the big picture. We beat another BCS team, and finally won a respectable game. I know Im happy because we won a must win I think which may have saved the season. Syracuse looks like we will and should win. But after that USF looks like a tough one.

Comment by Lou 09.21.08 @ 8:36 pm

I can’t wait to see how we do next week at the Cuse. Anything short of an impressive victory will be a dissapointment. Or will it be, get a lead and go conservative and decide it in the fourth quarter!

Comment by J.P. 09.21.08 @ 8:42 pm

J.P., sadly, I’m going with the latter.

Comment by Dugdog 09.21.08 @ 9:26 pm

i appreciate you calling it straight. i love that pitt is 2-1. i’ve only been a pitt fan since i’ve started school there in 04, and pitt NEVER wins this game. as i see it, the staff keeping berry at pr will force us to make the 75-80 yard extremely frequently. not knocking him as a potential playmaker on d, but he is what we’ve consistently seen back there. on a bizzare note, i’m so glad wannstedt’s hand was forced on greg williams – that man is a player.

Comment by christopher 09.21.08 @ 10:33 pm

Winning a hard-fought close game is a good thing. Last year we lost that kind of game so this year is an improvement. They are still a young team so give them time. They are learning how to win in NCAA Div 1A.

Comment by IronmanEE68 09.21.08 @ 11:02 pm

I thought Berry did a pretty solid job… He got called for a couple penalties, but people forget to realize he is almost always on the long side of the field, usually on an island.

The flea flicker was a decent play call. I would have preferred to have Cross in there for that series. Run on first to set up the flea flicker. Unlike Stull, he has the arm to throw that pass correctly.

Comment by Frank 09.21.08 @ 11:19 pm

Good posts… here’s some more notes:

Brytus’ punts were almost all directed to certain spots – I paid close attention to him since he’s been getting so much flak on the boards – but he did a great job of putting the ball where the chance of a return was minimized.

Stull was OK as far as his overall play, his passing was hit and miss (you could see that INT happening). His decision making and pocket presence is very good and his play action fakes are good also. Give credit to the O Line for Saturday’s protection – our QBs are getting time to run through their check downs out there.

McCoy still is missing the initial holes created by the O Line regularly. Better than against BG and Buffalo though, but I still believe he has to think first down rather than TD. Us fans have to come to the realization that he really isn’t the big play breakaway scat-back that everyone wants him to be (a la’ Dorsett). McCoy’s value is getting chunks of yardage to keep series going, with the occasional bigger play due to his talent. Big plays will come when he starts following his blockers consistently. I’m not complaining as he’s great at finding the end zone, but he can get better at his bread and butter worth.

I don’t see a complete blow out at Syracuse, but a game where we start to put together all aspects of O and D and win handily.

Comment by Reed 09.22.08 @ 5:12 am

Frank, you said…

“The flea flicker was a decent play call. I would have preferred to have Cross in there for that series. Run on first to set up the flea flicker. Unlike Stull, he has the arm to throw that pass correctly.”

Sorry, you must have seen a different play, Stull’s pass was very good and the receiver had the ball in his hands – not much more you can ask for on that play.

Comment by Reed 09.22.08 @ 5:14 am

I’ll take the win but let’s not get too carried away. The first 14 points Pitt scored was on busted plays. The offense was creative enough just to keep me from getting my 3rd Primanti’s sandwich. It is still early in the season and one win isn’t getting us to where we need to be. I STILL think Wanny is not going to get us where we need to be but for now I’ll relax and enjoy. As for the posters who say we are “negative”, I ask you how many Pitt games have you sat through?

We’ll see how far around the corner we are when I am sitting in Tampa on 10/2.

Comment by Yeti 09.22.08 @ 9:18 am

The one thing I havent heard anyone mention was Pitts defense. Six sacks and overall a pretty good effort against “a strong physical bigger Iowa Big 11 team”. Again, look at the MI State game 2 years ago how their bigger more physical O line absolutely dominated us – that didnt happen Saturday. This was a good win that we should be proud of, as someone else said, in the past these are the games we always seemed to lose.

Comment by Rex 09.22.08 @ 9:38 am

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