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September 24, 2008

Oh, No. Not Mousetraps

Filed under: Coaches,Football,Tactics,Wannstedt — Chas @ 10:30 pm

Back when Wannstedt was with the Dolphins, he used the gimmick of hanging lobster traps to warn his team of  the danger of “trap” games. It, uh, didn’t work. Kevin Gorman noted that Wannstedt may dislike “gimmick” plays, but loves “gimmicks” to try and get his team’s attention (less charitable people have referred to it as “dime-store psychology“).

And sure enough, we find out that he’s gone back to the “trap” gimmick.

Q: How do we avoid the dreaded “let-down game” this weekend against Syracuse? The Orange are not a good football team, but the Carrier Dome isn’t always the easiest place to play.

ZEISE: Well, I think the coaches are very aware of it because there are mouse traps hanging around the hallways at the practice facility and players are talking about the “trap game”. But from what I’ve see of Syracuse, if Pitt can’t win this one it is time to tear up the blue prints and start over because the Orange, and I’ll be polite, are an awful football team. And given the circus that is surrounding the athletic director talking publicly about firing the head coach and the fact that they are actually already talking about replacements, it is in even worse shape than before. The Orange haven’t recruited well in recent years, Greg Robinson is clearly in over his head, has no solutions and doesn’t have a very good plan, and it has all come crashing down on them. In short, I can’t see Pitt losing this game. I said at the outset of the year and I still believe this is the worst team the Panthers play. But Pitt is 18-22 in its last 40 games with losses to teams like Ohio, 2006 Connecticut and Bowling Green, so the Panthers should not be overlooking anyone.

[Emphasis added.]

I don’t think Pitt is going to lose, but would I be getting too negative if I’m already thinking that Pitt will be coming out against Syracuse a little tight?

The Orange Alert

Filed under: Big East,Conference,Football,Opponent(s) — Chas @ 1:14 pm

So, it’s an Orange week. Syracuse coming off a gritty 30-21 win over a game, 1-AA Northeastern team that isn’t as bad — no. I can’t do it. Syracuse is horrible. They lost by 20 to Northwestern. They lost by 14 to Akron — at home. Their last home win was a 20-12 nailbiter over Buffalo last year.

The Orange under Robinson are 6-16 at the Carrier Dome, 8-31 overall. They are 2-19 in the Big East, with only 1 win coming at home. They are as bad as Rutgers, Temple and/or Buffalo at their nadir.

They have an egomaniac of an AD who made a hideous hire for a head football coach; and until the good DOCTOR Daryl Gross got criticized on College GameDay was backing. Once the AD got criticized, then it was time to make it known that Greg Robinson’s days were numbered. Oh and to let everyone know that the AD is doing a hell of a job. Not that Gross should worry about his job security with the school chancellor supporting him and signing a contract extension through 2014. And we probably shouldn’t talk too much about the Ernie Davis statue.

Yeah, the behind-the-scenes stuff of Syracuse football is much more interesting than the actual team. Don’t ask Coach Wannstedt about it, though, he’s going to keep his distance on a coach being on the hot seat.

Syracuse and Pitt are the only Big East teams that haven’t played in a bowl game the past three seasons, but Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said he and Robinson haven’t discussed their respective programs’ struggles.

“I see him at the league meetings for a day or two, but you don’t talk much about programs,” Wannstedt said. “For me to talk about it now, we don’t have enough time.”

Roughly translated, “I’ve never seen that man before in my life. I know nothing of the situation, nor if I did, would I be inclined to discuss it at this time. Plus, I have enough of my own crap with which to deal.”

Especially since the two share the distinction of being hired before the start of the same season, and neither have made a bowl game or finished above .500 — the only two teams in the Big East to pull off that exacta.

Syracuse will be honoring one of their greats (they actually had some, once upon a time) in Art Monk this Saturday. Clearly that will provide the same lift the premiere of The Express had for the Orange a few weeks ago.

Don’t tell the players that they are 1-3, though. They are a confident bunch (it really helps if you roll your eyes after reading these cliched statements).

“We know we’re capable of playing with them,” said quarterback Cameron Dantley. “We feel going into any game we know we can play with anybody.”

That’s what you’d expect him to say, but in this case, he has some history on his side. Dantley played significant minutes for the first time in his career at Pittsburgh last year, playing well in relief of the injured Andrew Robinson. SU lost 20-17, but the Orange had a chance to tie or go ahead on their last possession in a statistically even game.

So what does SU have to do to get past the Panthers this season?

“We have to carry on with what we did last year,” said safety Bruce Williams. “We know we have the same athletes they do. We held them to under 100 yards rushing last year (actually 141). We have to do that again. Last year we were right in it, right down to the wire.”

Pitt is something like a 16 point favorite. I’m not disputing that Syracuse is bad, but that seems like a sucker bet. I just don’t see Pitt putting that kind of beating on Syracuse. Plus, this has all the makings of a letdown game. The win over Iowa and then a huge Thursday game looming in South Florida. I’m not saying loss. I’m just saying a continuation of uncomfortably close wins.

Here’s the playcalling crew for this ESPN Regional game: Mike Gleason, John Congemi, Quint Kessenich.

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