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September 26, 2009

First off, this was a win for NC State. They have the scoreboard. They made the plays on offense and did enough on defense. The post-mortem is about what Pitt did wrong (and occasionally right).

Maybe this is about the post-Navy hangover for the defense. Afterall, last year after Navy they let Rutgers hang a huge number on them. Eh, I’m grasping.

You know, in a way Bill Stull is the ultimate QB for Dave Wannstedt. A pure reflection.

If you looked at Wanny’s record in Chicago and Miami without any context, you would see a mediocre head coach in the NFL. Surely not a good one, but not one that has engendered such anger years later at his very mention. It almost seems so outsized from the results. Of course, the reality is it wasn’t just how many wins and losses it was the way it happened.

Now Stull had a decent game. The loss should not be on him. He led Pitt to 31 points and was effective most of the game. The supposed big time defense got gashed on the ground and air. Yet, all most of us can see is Stull inconceivably throwing the ball away on 4th and goal from the 8 in the final minutes. Not trying to make the hero play. Not trying to give a receiver a chance or maybe draw a pass interference call. A boneheaded decision that I can’t wait to see defended by Coach Wannstedt. In the end, it seemingly reinforces everything thought about Stull before the season and wiping out his performance in the rest of the game.

Really, though, this was about a hideous defensive effort. In case the Pitt D did not realize it, the main guy to stop was Russell Wilson. The guy under center in the red. He threw for 322 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 91 more. That’s 413 of the 530 yards of total offense that NC State had. You know 78% of their offense. You might want to base the game plan on limiting him. The D-line rarely got pressure on him, and definitely struggled with containing him when he left the pocket. As bad as the secondary for Pitt was — and it was putrid — the supposed strength of Pitt’s D gave little help.

This was not a game where NC State had all the breaks. The officiating was not even close to the reason Pitt lost the game. Pitt had the field position all through the first half. They got the one big turnover. NC State missed two field goals.  The fact is, the Pitt defense was unable to stop Russell Wilson and the rest of the Wolfpack.

All through the game, you would see the Pitt defense make a play. Maybe even two straight. Only to get gashed and give up another drive sustaining first down. NC State only had to punt three times in the game.

I honestly don’t know what the answer is. Unlike the D-line or the linebackers there just isn’t a lot of depth or talent with the corners or safeties. Who exactly would you move ahead of the present starters for any reason other than pure frustration with the starters? Purely on talent, I’m only seeing Jared Holly getting more playing time.





Nice post. I think it really captures the frustration after this game.

Comment by Jeff 09.26.09 @ 11:38 pm

well stated.

QB didnt lose the game but he clearly didnt win it either which is probably more important given the fact that he is the returning starter and senior.

DB are downright terrible and under talented. I agree that the worst thing about the DB’s is that there isnt anyone left to replace them with. Deccicco, Berry, and Holly are not D1 starters. Fields has potential.

Wanny is wanny. Great speech but little real substance when you get down to it. All the pomp and circumstance that you want in a motivator but poor X and O guy. He needs one of those positions that they gave Johnny Majors at the end. The only thought that come to my mind about Wanny is the saying “you are who you are”

Comment by At least Penn Stater lost to a Pittsburgh Guy 09.26.09 @ 11:45 pm

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by frick ryan. frick ryan said: RT @pittbuzztap: Pitt Blather >> There Might Be Issues With The Defense link to bit.ly [...]


Well, let’s see, when I said for a year now that this kind of loss has been happening ever since Wannstedt has been coach, and there will be more similar losses to come, I was called all kinds of names in here, especially by w bill. Well, I guess I was right, eh? Where are the homers hiding tonight? How much mediocrity do you have to see before you agree with me?

Comment by Mark 09.26.09 @ 11:50 pm

Stull didn’t come close to being the reason we lost this game and I thought the offensive playcalling was very good compared to Cavanaugh in the past.

Bottom line is we do not tackle well on defense and our secondary is undersized and not good. I thought Mason played adequately, but we definitely missed Gunn and his leadership.

This is a bad loss and “credit” for it gets completely blamed on the “D”.

Comment by Rob 09.27.09 @ 12:31 am

While you can’t totally hang the loss on Stull, no one is talking about how the offense completely went in the tank after Baldwin’s TD. Not a single first down after that. While Stull wasn’t the whole problem, when it was third and goal from the 8 at the end of the game, I knew we would not score, because I still cannot see him coming up big in that type of spot.

Comment by Hollywood 09.27.09 @ 1:17 am

I totally agree with Rob- the defense did not tackle well at all. Didn’t wrap the guy up and put him down. When the offense puts up 31 points it should be enough to win a game. Stull’s blunder at the end was bad, but bottom line is that he should not have had to make that play on 4th down to win the game. But it bugs me, how can we not put the ball in the endzone from 8 yards away?
8 crummy yards!!!

Comment by Annie 09.27.09 @ 1:23 am

Sounds strange to say, but the loss of Taglianetti, perhaps the least physically gifted defensive player Pitt has, is really starting to show up in the results. Taglianetti is an intelligent playmaker and the Pitt secondary is missing his presence greatly.

Comment by Dave in Orlando 09.27.09 @ 1:49 am

Oh, and however petty it is, I’m taking solace in the Penn State loss.

Comment by Dave in Orlando 09.27.09 @ 1:50 am

Good summary of the the frustration Pitt football fans have endured over the past decade:

link to community.post-gazette.com

Seemingly always on the verge of success only to have it plucked from our grasp in the most inhumane fashion.

Comment by Dave in Orlando 09.27.09 @ 2:14 am

While I can’t figure out why Stull just threw it away on forth down, I wonder why no one has mentioned the fact that he put it on the money on third down. If Dorin Dickerson doesn’t drop that touchdown, Stull is the hero. He does drop a ball he SHOULD have caught, then Stull throws to no one on the next play, and Stull is the one being questioned. He may not be Dan Marino, but he put the ball in the end zone.

Our defense was awful, and there is no way to sugar coat that. I don’t understand how our D was supposed to be our strength, and they don’t even come to play some games. What is WVU going to do to this D? What kind of numbers will Tony Pike put on this D? I would add Jimmy Clausen to the list, but I hate him way too much.

Comment by The Prowler 09.27.09 @ 2:20 am

The sky is falling!

Honestly though, we yet again had a camera-man/woman who was unable to follow a Stull ball on that last 4th down. What the F??? It’s so frustrating not knowing how to make heads or tails of it. How could Stull have such a decent game, just to piss it away?

I’m growing tired (as I’m sure we all are) of Pitt not keeping up their end of the bargain when it comes to BigEast representation. Most everyone in the conference is putting up the good fight with non-cons, but Pitt can’t win these games? It’s very black and white, but come on!

Time for the pitchforks and torches!

Frustration aside, we’ll bounce back. But HOW LONG is it going to take to stop taking steps backwards?

HTscriptP

Comment by Cool Hand Nuke 09.27.09 @ 2:55 am

I agree that Stull put a TD pass in Dickerson’s hands last night – any way you look at it that should have been caught by Dickerson.

Regarding his last fourth down pass – was I the only fan to that notice the receiver Turner was cutting in towards the middle of the endzone when it looked like the called play was a fade to the corner? The ball was thrown high, but I wondered if there was a problem of communication on that play. Splitting hairs maybe as that was a poor play all around.

What’s concerning me more than Stull’s play – which I though was pretty good last night… hell in all honesty he generated the only offensive production in the second half at all – are the drops and mistakes we are seeing from our WRs. McGee had another drop that would have been a first down, Baldwin didn’t get a foot inbounds for what would have been another first down and DD had a drop that would have been a TD. Right there is two first downs that would have extended drives and kept our defense off the field at least and the tying score. We saw the same thing last week in the second half of the Navy game also. Five WR drops in two games, that doesn’t help our offense at all.

I’m not putting this loss on Bill Stull by any means, not when there are so many other aspects of our game that just fell apart.

Comment by Reed 09.27.09 @ 5:15 am

In reality, we shouldn’t have had the 4 tries from the 8 to tie it at the end…we should have been driving the length of the field with about 2.5 minutes to go, and who knows how ugly that would have been! I feel for Stull. I’m not a Stull fan, but the 4th Down Sail Pass will add to his ever growing non-legacy. I think Chas hit it on the head, he is just like Wanny. He is tremdendously average…coach and QB alike. And in football, you need above average at the QB position and HC to succeed at the highest level. Look at all the upsets yesterday, and go back and look at the QB play and coaching. QB play likely played a major roll on the outcome. Heck, look no further than east to Darryl Clark and Poopy Pants. Big Stage, prime-time atmosphere…big terd, bad fundamentals, ints…loss.

Having said all of this, Stull did enough to put us in a position to win. Our gloriously overrated defense laid a big egg out there last night. Two great stops and then a big breakdown. It never seemed to end. The middle of the field was a wasteland??? Wide open! That Russel kid is good, but he is not the second coming of Phillip Rivers! Make a stop, defense.

Well, my “one game at a time” recalibration of expectations continues….

Comment by Pauly P 09.27.09 @ 8:20 am

I just hate it that we come up so SMALL in non-con games for our BE brethern.

Comment by Pauly P 09.27.09 @ 8:24 am

Unquestionably, the secondary is miserable. Decicco is probably the worst defensive player I have seen recently. He reminds me of short-lived 49ers CB Mike Rumph who got thrown at about 50 times a few years ago and was out of position and couldn’t tackle. It defies belief that not only is Decicco unable to position himself correctly (the ‘brains’) he is also unable to tackle correctly (the ‘athleticism’).

While Stull had a good numbers game, I am certain that most fans knew this game was over after NC State went up a touchdown. Stull is not going to scramble for the big first down. He is not going to make the miracle Hail Mary to anyone but hte 3rd row of fans. He is just going to do the smart thing and throw it away….on 4th and goal – down by a touchdown.

Comment by JoeyD 09.27.09 @ 8:26 am

Goats for the game

#4 – Dorin Dickerson – Big time players make big time plays. Got to catch the ball in the endzone

#3 – Stull – Big league QB’s can lead their team to victory.

#2 – Deccicco- not worthy of being onthe field. Poor decision making. Can’t cover, tackle or hit.

#1 WANNY – WANNY BE! AVERAGE MEDIOCRE COACH WHO WILL COME OUT ON MONDAY WITH THE PEP RALLY SPEECH. ALL TALK AND NO SUBSTANCE!

Comment by PITT in Atlanta 09.27.09 @ 9:08 am

After watching the game; it’s almost unconceivable to think that the defense was going to be strength this year. As for Stull, I don’t put any blame on him for the loss but I don’t believe he’s a QB you want out there when the game is on the line. He’s just a game manager not a game winner. Again, Pitt was up 14 points and the holes got smaller for Lewis so why not hand the ball off to Hynoski and see if can milk the clock? Pitt just seems to have one plan and doesn’t make the necessary mid-game adjustments to win. Wilson made a ton of third and long scrambles. Put a spy on him on third down situations, I rather him beat us with his arm and not his legs. It’s a very hard loss to take. Let’s see how they regroup and handle the conference schedule.

Comment by Pittastic 09.27.09 @ 9:15 am

two issues:

1) maybe we have to scrap the man-to-man defense. I know when playig the zone, we got beat a few times vs Buffalo, but that was due to bad angles taken which are correctable. However, if we don’t have the psersonnel to play man-to-man as it appeared yesterday, then that is not correctable.

2) we are assuming that NC St is an average ACC team based on pre-season projections .. and maybe they are. But remember, Rutgers was the preseason BE favorite by most projectiosn, and we had all thought that our defense was the strength of this team. NC St had 14 starters return from a team that got much better as the season progressed last year. They lost a close game to what appears to now be a pretty good SC team,and the Wolfpack O-line was in much more disarray then, due to injuries and illnesses, than what is was yesterday. Who knows, if they compete for the ACC title, maybe this loss won’t seem as bad … I believe from what I saw yeaterday that they are much better than an average ACC team … and are much more than just a QB … but we will see.

Comment by wbb 09.27.09 @ 9:43 am

This loss will either rally the troops or be the beginning of the unraveling of the season. THE LOSS IS A SEASON CHANGER (one way or the other). It really has that feel to it. Very tough one to let slip away in this manner. Havent felt this way in years. Only a couple other games come to mind
1) S.Florida loss in 2001 (26-35) second season in D1 (disbelief and embarrassment)

2) Ohio U loss on friday night (Stunned on national TV)

3) Toledo loss in 2003 (31-35). Oh, we were ranked #9 at the time and Toledo’s QB torched us for 461 IN THE AIR!

4) Bowling Green loss last season (17-27)

5) Penn State loss in 1981 (14-48) I still cry at night about that one…

Comment by PITT in Atlanta 09.27.09 @ 9:48 am

While the defense was not stellar, they were on the field way to much. Two big problems, lack of containment of the QB and penalties extending plays.

The other big problem was that the offense did not help in the second half. The scoring drive happened way to quick and the three and outs were devastating. I am not sure whether it was the O-line or Lewis that pooped out, probably both, but they did not give the D a rest.

They need to get the ball to Bynum more often and how about running Hyno three or five times a game.

I am not a big fan of the dump pass on third down. Too many times Stull throws low and behind. If you need four or seven yard throw the ball five or eight.

All this being said, This team should be competitive in all of its games and with the right breaks should win most of them.

Comment by gc 09.27.09 @ 9:54 am

Chas – Great,great comment and analysis from you.
Could not be more correct about the anger still remaining in Miami and Chicago (I worked in both those cities while Wanny was there). It wasn’t that Wanny lost…it was HOW he lost…unprepared, poor decisions, no adjustments, no QB talent…but the worst is his taking his foot off the gas pedal (i.e. stopping momentum) on offense when he has a team beat!
Classic expample is the Steeler/Bears game of 95…the only win ever for the Steelers in Chicago.

The anger and frustration Wanny’s “coaching” casuse in all of us is consistant.

No pettiness intended here but the PSU loss was a thing of joy!

Comment by Dan 72 09.27.09 @ 10:16 am

I have had this position since the hiring of Wanny, he is not the guy to take this program to the next “level”.

When will the administration get it?

Again Walt wasn’t the guy either, but at least we went to minor bowl games for the most part.

I know it is one loss but this was the first “decent” team we played, this season is starting to spiral out of control, our defense just cannot stop anyone. Major adjustments are needed!

Comment by Dallas Panther 09.27.09 @ 10:17 am

All “we” can see is Stull throwing it away on fourth down? Really? All I can see is the defense having a soft underbelly and a secondary that can’t tackle. The game is four quarters long, not one play.

Stull has been exceptional this season and to even bring up that play emphasizes a gross misunderstanding of not only football but competition in general.

Suppose we did score. We were handed the ball at the eight yard line. So, it’s undoubtedly a PAT and overtime. Were we going to outlast them starting at the 25? No. This loss is on the defense — no one else. You’re reaching if you think otherwise.

Comment by JTC 09.27.09 @ 10:36 am

BC made halftime adjustments on the running game and that was ball game. Overall the defense is need of new blood. Wanny better use the remaining ships on DBs. At least one from the JC ranks.

Comment by joel 09.27.09 @ 11:05 am

Look there is a reason why college coaches fail in the Nfl and Nfl coaches fail in college, except a few Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, etc…Wanny is a Nfl coach, not a headcoach but he belongs in the NFl…College is different…It is not about field position and defense…hell Pitts defense has been the worse since Wanny came…not that it was good when the other guy was here but aleast they can outscore you…Im not a Pitt fan, my team is Ohio State, has been since 1995, but I criticize Tressel for the conservative play calling…College is all about Spread Offense and speed…The Sec, Pac 10, Big 12 have speed and thats why they dominate…Rodriquez will dominate the Big-Ten like he did the Big East once he gets his players in…Tressel/Wanny change with the times…it 2009 not 1989…but CHANGE is not something the Pittsburgh area is familiar with so expect Wanny to be here for a while…

Comment by J-Money 09.27.09 @ 11:28 am

Dan 72, the Bears lost to the steelers in 95 in OT primarily because their FG, Kevin Butler, who was perfect thus far in the season missed a ver makeable FG by just a couple of feet to the right … funny, how history reverses itself.

Dallas Panther, if we do hire someone to take us to the next level, and that is a crapshoot, he would leave for a larger profile job in a few years anyway (Majors & Sherill revisited) although maybe we will accept that is we can win a few BCS bowl games. The thing is that there is just no guarantee that this person would be hired.

Comment by wbb 09.27.09 @ 11:33 am

clarification of previous post — Butler’s FG would have given the Bears a 10 point lead with 3 minutes left in regulation …pretty much sealing the game (unless Steelers woild have scored a quick TD and recovered an onside kick .. Steelers did score a tying TD but that was in the final minute)

Comment by wbb 09.27.09 @ 11:37 am

I was at the game and even in the first half i was saying to my NC ST friend our secondary had no clue what was going on. Never turned their heads and didn’t even know what defense they were in. NC St would send every one deep and then dump it off or scramble and before anyone saw it they were 20 yards downfield.

Oh and the Wannstadt stuff…every where I go and ALOT yesterday, Bears and ‘phins fans hate him and tell me about it. I hear it all the time. He teases you and then breaks your heart.

Comment by BDuBB 09.27.09 @ 11:55 am

Some general thoughts on the game…

1. Zeise said all week that these two teams were very close and the separation at the end of the game would be a touchdown at the most. What I saw last night seemed to confirm that. What worries me about that is that Zeise seems to be convinced that NC State is a very mediocre team. So that’s either a bad day by a good Pitt team or…we’re a mediocre team.

2. I was a little surprised that Bennett didn’t have the defensive line playing more of a contain game with blitzes coming up the middle. Instead, he seemed to be trying to generate a lot of pressure with the ends, which allowed Wilson room to get around once the pocket collapsed.

3. Count me among those who will not pin this one on Stull. He made a good throw on 3rd down…might have been a LITTLE high, but Dickerson still could’ve come down with it. Not sure what happened on the 4th down play, but it did seem that there may have been some confusion in the pass routes there.

4. I’ve long been a supporter of Wannstedt and I’ve wanted him to succeed because I know how much this program means to him. But I’ve heard a lot of Wannstedt critics say that the losses his teams seem to suffer and furthermore the heights to which his teams typically aspire are limited by the same sorts of issues – limitations at the quarterback, ultra-conservative gameplay and games that are sometimes marred by mind-numbing mistakes in preparation.

5. So while I’m also starting to find my faith in Wannstedt shaken a little more, Zeise’s blog post that Dave in Orlando referenced up above proves to me one thing…this program was NOT better off with Walt Harris when it came to these kinds of losses. This program under Walt was still marred by the same mistakes, the same untimely calls, the same decisions that seemed to be reflective of a coaching staff either overthinking things, overcomplicating things or in some cases, being too damned inflexible for their own good.

6. All of this said, let’s please keep this in mind going forward:

- this loss does not damage Pitt’s chances for a BCS bowl berth.

- if you’d have told me after four games, that Pitt would be 3-1 and Stull would have 750 yards passing, 8 touchdowns to one INT and a 65.6% completion percentage, I’d have taken it. The offense does not look to be the problem here and it seems like it’s got potential to get better as more players are being worked into the equation.

- After some past poor defensive performances over the last couple of years, we’ve said the same things. “What’s WVU going to do to this defense?” “What’s Cincy going to do to this defense?” In the past, the defense has managed to get it figured out to keep those teams in check much better than any of us thought they would after losses like this. I think this one still has room to come around.

Comment by Stoosh 09.27.09 @ 12:00 pm

Defensive backs have to be among the most athletic players on the team.

Comment by steve 09.27.09 @ 12:06 pm

Aside from the terrible defense, the other goats that are not mentioned are the receivers. Why did Cedric McGee run a 5 yard route on a 3rd and 10? How many 6 yard passes over the middle in key situations is McGee going to drop? For all the accolades that Baldwin gets, he takes a lot of plays off. In the 3rd quarter there was a very catchable ball that went by him and he didnt even bother to dive for it.

I hope the admin. cancelled the charter flight and made the team take the Greyhound back.

Comment by JoeyD 09.27.09 @ 12:14 pm

Maybe we all need to chill and chalk it up to bad karma.

You realize that the turning point was probbaly the false start penalty which was reversed to a ‘disconcerting signal’ penalty, which changed a 3rd and 12 to a 3rd and 2. Pitt was winning 10-0 at that point and in control, but instead of holding them, they got the 1st down and went on to score their first TD.

I am kidding about the karma but not becessarily about the chilling out.

Comment by wbb 09.27.09 @ 12:22 pm

Sure the secondary was bad, but I noticed really, really bad play by the linebackers. Many times Gruder looked like he was spying Wilson and bit on the play fakes. And at least 2 times, maybe 3, the running back snuck into the flat for a 20 yard reception. And the big gains that came after slants right over the middle, it looked just like the Buffalo game in that regard.

Why was Steve Dell in quite a bit instead of Mason? Not that either actually did very well.

Comment by KeyboardKev 09.27.09 @ 12:57 pm

DeCicco just missed another tackle.

I long for the days of Josh Lay. He couldn’t catch an INT for his life but he was pretty good in coverage.

Comment by JoeyD 09.27.09 @ 1:08 pm

Is it me, or does our punt returner rarely field a punt. The past two games especially, I’ve noticed Smith running away from punts rather than running up to field them. Yesterday, we gave up so much field position by not catching punts it was ridiculous. We had great field position most of the first half until Smith ran away from a punt which evidentually changed the momentum for the rest of the first half. Does Wannstedt’s conservate nature bring about this non fielding punt practice, or should we be looking at another punt returner. Again, maybe it’s me, but Cam Saddler appears to be the kid I’d prefer to returning punts. Is there a simple reason that he doesn’t, like he can’t catch?

Comment by ltl49 09.27.09 @ 1:13 pm

I bitched about punt returns last week. He catches 1/10 and when he does, he sprints to the sideline. On the other 9/10 he does not catch, he waves his hands like an incomplete pass and apparently doesn’t communicate with his blockers to say “short punt” because in the 1st quarter, if there wasn’t an NC State penalty, that ball hit our player.

If you aren’t going to return it, at least run up to it and fair catch it. Don’t let it bounce for 20 yards.

Comment by JoeyD 09.27.09 @ 1:34 pm

I think Zeise and Hollywood said it best – Pitt went 3-and-out on its last 4 drives. No wonder the defense looked exhausted. Some of the blame for the defensive collapse has to go on the offense.

Comment by Patrick 09.27.09 @ 1:40 pm

The defense looked exhausted because they failed time and time again to get off the field on 3rd down.

Would have been nice to see the offense move the ball a little bit more in the 2nd half. McGee once again had a big-time DROP that was a possession killer.

Incredibly frustrating game. The weakness that has been exposed in the secondary will continue to be exploited by opposing OC’s.

…On the bright side, the Buffalo and NC State gave us the most trouble because their mobile quarterback was able to elude pressure from our defensive line. I’m not sure we’ll see a kid who can really move around like Wilson did yesterday for the rest of the season, he’s a heck of a player.

Comment by TJ 09.27.09 @ 1:46 pm

I wish you fellow PITT fans where more positive, instead of always doom and gloom. Ok yesterday sucked I agree but I think the part of the problem is the negativeity that alwasy goes with PITT football, which is created by the local media. Don’t get me wrong loosing games sucks, but when your starting to compete and are a respectable program, why not be alittle more opptamsitic? Its like everytime we loose a lot of you are so concentarting of the negative that it actully carries over to the players. As opposed to when the Steelers loose the local media and fans give more excuses to why the other team got lucky to win. Yeah you should critizie the team yeasterday, the D sucked. However the Offense didnt play bad. I just wish more of you would change the negative ways, and be more upbeat and supportive.

Anyways in yesterday’s game the D was bad, and in
particular the linebackers and safeties. If they stop NC State at least 3 times we most likely win the game. God this D reminded me of a Paul Rhodes defense, Unable to stop a QB on 4and 15. I don’t know what defense Bennit called but why not have at least one spy on Wilson, you know he can run.

Comment by Lou 09.27.09 @ 1:55 pm

more disrespect for the BE …. new AP poll has BYU (3-0) which was whooped at home last week by FSU at 20th. USF (4-0) which dominated FSU at Tallahassee yesterday is 29th …. and if you’re going to ask who has uSF played aside from FSU, I am going to ask you why is UF No. 1 and PSU still ranked (15)

Comment by wbb 09.27.09 @ 1:59 pm

I am not an X & Os guy, but if the defense played porously against Buffalo and again yesterday, what changes have to be made – what changes can be made – to save the season? How could the progonsicators have been so wrong?

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.27.09 @ 2:09 pm

Remember that Gunn was out and a true freshman, Mason, was supposed to call the defensive plays. While Mason is a terrific athlete, he may not understand the defense completely. It looked like no one was on the same page. DW is not known for half-time adjustments, so they look good in the first half, stink in the second. Pitt will improve and will probably finish the season strong, but unfortunately it is typical for a team which loses a game like this to lose the next one. DW also runs very physical practices, and I wonder if they leave their best football on the practice field. The danger with starting the season with slower opponents is your players take the wrong angles against faster teams until they adjust to that speed.

Comment by 66Goat 09.27.09 @ 2:13 pm

One of the things I constantly heard from my Chicago buddies about Wanny (aside from no QB, conservative Offense, mind-numbing playcalling) was his inability to make in-game and post-game adjustments.

Sound familiar?

Should be an interesting couple of weeks…

Comment by Pauly P 09.27.09 @ 2:15 pm

did you see that Shady is operating out of the Wildcat today, and even scored a TD from it?? Eagles beating KC at half, 24-7

Boy, that Cav was a great OC!

Comment by wbb 09.27.09 @ 2:38 pm

On the negative:
1. Just a total collapse…
2. What happens (or doesn’t) in the locker room at halftime? How do we come out in the third quarter of every single game without adjustments? They found the way to stop lewis and torch us on offense. We couldn’t even slow them down, let alone stop them.
3. Pitt can’t put teams away. We were up 14 in the second half and lost…total collapse.
4. Aren’t Wanny and Pitt supposed to be known for strong fundamentals in tackling and penalties?

On the positive:
1. It’s not a conference game. It would have been a great non-con win for us and the big east, but in the long run it’s not devastating.
2. Bill Stull is atleast playing solid, not great, but certainly good enough for the time being.

This makes Louisville a season-changing game for us. If we win, it’s a solid 4-1 (1-0) record. It’s on national tv, a game we need. If we lose, the morality will be gone and we’ll be sitting at 3-2.

Comment by Glass half full/empty? 09.27.09 @ 4:54 pm

Once again Pitt played just good enough to lose… everytime this program is close to making a name for itself they go out and crap the bed. Bad coaching, bad coaching, and bad coaching, what does Pitt have to do to make a breakthrough that lasts longer than one week? If the defense doesn’t come together fast this team will be lucky to win 7 games.

Comment by Marco 09.27.09 @ 5:20 pm

I hate all this calling for Wanny to leave or be fired. It is ridiculous, true he is often too conservative, but he has done some great things for the University and I don’t think we’ll find another coach who is truly as passionate about Pitt as he is. That game yesterday still sits poorly with me, and I am worried about our upcoming schedule. Pitt needs to be more aggressive on offensive; lets face it we have some weapons and need to use them especially with the way the defense is playing. I think in general the defensive line and linebackers are still pretty solid. They made some great plays. Mick Williams kept turning to the visiting section to get us hyped up and I kept thinking, you need to be turning to your defensive backs and get them hyped up. It seems like that is our real weakness- our defensive backs. And it doesn’t seem like there are suitable replacements on the sidelines to replace the mediocrity that is on the field. Fields seems to be an inept tacker who also doesn’t play every down, and DeCicco reminds me of the player in little league standing in right field watching the clouds and playing with the grass. The other thing I noticed at the game is that Baldwin sometimes looks like he takes plays off and isn’t always giving 100% on every play. We need to tighten up and make a good run at our Big East schedule.

Comment by Heel Hater 09.27.09 @ 6:03 pm

You need eight yards at the end of the game. Give it to Hynoski. It would have fooled NC State because it hadn’t been done yet and if you would have done it twice in a row, we might have been in the end zone without worrying about Stull’s risky arm.

Comment by AJ 09.27.09 @ 6:22 pm

Who cares if he’s passionate if he’s just mediocre? The goal is to win.

Comment by Mark 09.27.09 @ 6:55 pm

Wanny will never be fired at Pitt. He will resign if he feels he cannot get Pitt to a higher level.

Comment by joel 09.27.09 @ 7:42 pm

I find it amazing that on a weekend of college football where 4 top 10 teams lost, proving that anyone can beat anyone on any given day, we have people crying that the sky is falling because we lost a close game as if it ended our BCS title dreams or something. We are 3-1. We could be 4-0. But we weren’t so much better than NC State yesterday that we SHOULD be 4-0. This is different from the way the Steelers have lost the lost 2 weeks where they completely dominated the games and pissed them away in the fourth quarter.

The reality is, it isn’t always the “best team” that wins, but the best team on a given day. When Pitt dominated WVU two years ago- a WVU team that was on the verge of a national championship- we all knew that WVU was the better team. But Pitt was the better team that day. Given 4 more quarters, I don’t think WVU would have beat us. But we weren’t a national championship caliber team and they were. That is, as Christ Berman likes to say, why they play the game.

Our season is not over. Wanny doesn’t need fired. Anyone who blames Bill Stull for that loss has an agenda- they hate Stull and want any reason to blame him. I don’t think Stull is the kind of QB that could lead us to a BCS championship- but we aren’t a BCS championship caliber team. Stull has played FAR BETTER than anyone thought he would. He has 1 INT through 4 games. He has been plagued by receivers dropping balls in all 4 games, or his numbers would be even better. Somehow Dickerson has been let off the hook by so many after his drop in the end zone. “Stull isn’t the guy who can win it at the end,” people are saying. He put the ball in the receiver’s hands.

We all know that the defense has looked very poor. But if we want to figure out how to win games like this one, we HAVE to figure out how to get positive rushing yards in the second half. Other than breaking a huge run late against Buffalo, our rushing game has been virtually non-existent in the second half of games. I don’t know if it is play calling, poor line play, or not reacting to defensive adjustments (it is likely some of all 3), but if we can’t get our running game going in the second half of these games, then we are going to have a lot of 3 and outs.

And, to reiterate, if our WRs keep dropping balls, especially drive extending or point scoring balls, then you can’t pin that on Stull. I saw two bad passes out of Stull yesterday. One was to Baldwin, when Stull was being pressured, he stepped up and threw off his back foot and put it just behind Baldwin. If he got that to Baldwin, it was a first down and maybe a touchdown. The other was the fourth down play to end the game- where I too thought there was miscommunication on the route. I agree with the person who said above- if Pitt scored that TD at the end, is there any reason in the world to believe that our D would have finally stopped NC State in OT?

Comment by The Prowler 09.27.09 @ 7:45 pm

Prowler, Great post. I agree with everything you said. I started out a Stull hater this season, probably one of his biggest critics, but even I have to admit, he has done pretty well so far and was in no way to blame for yesterdays lost. He has done what has been asked of him so far and has been efficient in doing so. I’m just glad we didn’t go to overtime cause (1) my two year old and infant were starting to get restless and (2) I don’t know if the result would have been any different. The only thing I think Pitt should have done differently yesterday was stop forcing the NC State QB out of the pocket. That resulted in a multitude of positive plays for state. I’d still take Wanny anyday over anyone else.

Comment by Heel Hater 09.27.09 @ 7:54 pm

Mediocre program and a lot of fans still make excuses for Wannstedt. Too funny.

Comment by Mark 09.27.09 @ 7:59 pm

We miss Scott McKillop more than Shady. For 2 yrs. he made everyone’s tackles and made the two ends think they’re NFL material. We’ll have the same problem in hoops. Who is going to rebound?

Comment by alcofan 09.27.09 @ 8:00 pm

I don’t think anyone would be this upset if it was a well-matched game where both sides looked good and it was a real battle.

Pitt should have won that game. Pitt was up with a decent lead. Then, NC State got some momentum, the defense shit itself and every Pitt fan in the world knew we were not going to win that game unless the stadium got enveloped by a time warp that knocked 10 minutes off the clock.

Comment by JoeyD 09.27.09 @ 8:00 pm

No mid game adjustments!!!! No plan to contain a mobile qb!!!! A two touchdown lead up in smoke!!!

Comment by Pittastic 09.27.09 @ 8:08 pm

I did not read all of the comments above, but I could not disagree with you more on Stull…How can you put him through the meat grinder, when on the play before the final throw (which was bad), our 6’2″ 235 lb TE let a DB crawl over his back and knock a TD pass from his hands? Nope, this one goes squarely on the defense. I have now watched three straight teams get 1st downs out of 3rd and double-digit situations against our defense MULTIPLE times per game! Three straight TD’s after we take a 31-17 lead? Hard to be critical of the offense because they are scoring enough points to win, but they do appear to fade dramatically after halftime. I don’t think the problem with the defense is only the players…I think other coaches see a weakness in the scheme and are exploiting the daylights out of it. I don’t want to take anything away from the NC ST QB, but his receivers were wide open all day. If I see one of our LB’s chasing a TE or FB from 10 yards behind again during the next few games, I’ll know its going to be a very long year. Very, very frustrating!

Comment by HbgFrank 09.27.09 @ 8:08 pm

Mark:
Great short post! The jury is still out – Wannstedt’s era could end up being more mediocre than Harris’! Yet the Wannstedt die-hards come up with new excuses after each loss. Wannstedt’s butt was red hot before the WVU game in ’07. A few more losses this season and it will be red hot again.

Comment by TonyinHouston 09.27.09 @ 8:35 pm

I am not sure who your post about making excuses for Wanny was aimed at, Mark… but in case it was me, I sure didn’t make any excuses for him. The only mention I made of him was that he didn’t need fired just because we lost yesterday. That isn’t an excuse. Just trying to be realistic. Should Mike Tomlin be fired for losing to the Bungles today or the Bears last week? If your answer is, “Tomlin has won a Super Bowl, Wanny hasn’t,” then you are agreeing that even coaches who have had success such as winning a Super Bowl still find themselves losing games they should win.

I also said that we need to figure out how to get the running game active in the second half if we are going to keep winning. That falls squarely on the coaches, which I mentioned in that post- as does the poor defensive play.

My big concern is that we have seen tremendous growth out of this program in the last two seasons under Wanny, and our recruiting is better than it has been in decades- yet after 1 loss we are back to “Fire Wanny!!!” If we were 9-0 going into the ND game and then lost that game, the same people would be on this site saying that Wanny can’t do anything right. If we win the rest of our games until the WVU game and lose that one, we will hear the same things.

It is just clear that some people will ignore what is going well and just wait for a mistake to be made so they can immediately call for Wanny’s head or for Stull to be replaced- the latter of which has been evidenced by the amount of blame people have placed on Stull for yesterday’s loss.

If we had realistic expectations, then a loss like yesterday’s wouldn’t seem like the end of the world. I was pissed when the game was over because we sure could have won. But I didn’t believe coming into the season that we were going to go 10-2 or 11-1, so a loss doesn’t burst the bubble of my unrealistic fantasy. This program IS growing and getting stronger. They AREN’T near elite level yet. They may not get to the elite level under Wanny. But we weren’t really expecting 9 wins last season. So far we are looking pretty good this year, with knowledge of 1 primary area that is problematic- the defense, and especially the secondary.

I don’t know how this season will turn out, I just don’t know why so many Pitt fans root against Wanny and Stull and whoever else they don’t like. I didn’t want us to hire Wanny. I wanted a better QB than Stull. Both have made strides and dammit I am pulling for them to keep getting better. I don’t see how someone who calls themselves a Pitt fan thinks they earned the right to gloat at the rest of us because of a loss. Aren’t we all rooting for Pitt to win?

Comment by The Prowler 09.27.09 @ 9:16 pm

The WAY we lose (and win) is what is so maddening…

We have a perception problem in our conference, and everyone else has been manning up outside the BE schedule to help improve it. We get our chance to help our conference against an ACC team, and we don’t deliver. I know our job is not to play for our conference, but in a way, we have to in order to push our conference rep into the conversation.

Pitt is such a burden to the Big East in Football! We lay a terd in our only BCS game. We laid an ugly terd in our non-con schedule (see red shirt diaries) My gosh, then go and knock off the conference’s only shot to win it all(WVU two years ago as a 4TD dog)…when we had NO business doing it, causing us to not have a BCS Champion in the conference! Don’t get me wrong, I loved the win and I will always root for Pitt. I hate WVU, and would have hated seeing them win it all. But, it would have helped our chances to win one—immensely—- in the future! The way we come up SO SMALL in these non-con games just hurts our conference’s perception. And as we all know, perception (like it or not) is king in college football.

Comment by Pauly P 09.27.09 @ 11:59 pm

Tonyinhouston – amazing that DW’s “butt was red hot before the WVU game in 2007″ yet he was awarded a contract extension before that game. In reality it was not, and his job wasn’t in jeopardy at all. Nor is it now.

PITT fans are somewhat delirious if you think a loss like this is going to do anything to bring DW’s time at PITT to a close – or even not winning the BE championship. He be around for a long time if he keeps winning 8 or more games a year.

Comment by Reed 09.28.09 @ 5:04 am

Prowler, you and others misconstrue the diatribes some of us hurl Wanny’s way. I don’t believe there is a poster on this board who doesn’t want him to succeed and for Pitt to do well. Our comments are out of frustration for the state of the football program and the fact that we can see clearly that Wanny is NOT A HEAD COACH. Consequently, it is tough investing in the program as a fan because you always know your next big disappointment is just around the corner. We are living Foge the sequel. Everybody loves Serafino and wanted him to win, but he needed to stay at home on Saturdays. What good does it do to be a great recuriter if you don’t know how to coach the kids on game day? Remember Earl Bruce at Ohio State? They called him Ol’ 8 and three Earl and ran him out of town because the expectations for the program was that they would win when they were supposed to and compete for a championship every now and then-the same expectation they have in Happy Valley. Is it so bad to think we can have the same mind set in Pittsburgh? I personally have over $3,000 invested in season tickets (with contribution to Panther fund) and have a basement room decorated with Pitt memorabilia reminding me of the days when we were respected. Now are an also ran on our best day and if me wanting that to change is wrong then I went to the wrong university. All I am saying is Wanny is what he is – an ex athlete with a stubborn streak who will never be more successful than he is right now. So the fact that this is as good as it gets is both disappointing and unnecessary. I don’t want the university to fire him, I want him to wake up and smell the coffee and do the right thing and move on to some ambassodor role in the athletic department. That will not happen, of course, so we will be here year after year watching the Urban Myers of the world turn programs around in two years and then come to boards like this and read comments from people who put on their rose colored glasses and defend a coach who can recruit but doesn’t know what to do with them once he gets them on campus. If a nine win season in the Big East of all conferences followed by the most pathetic performance in a bowl game in the history of the NCAA is your idea of the best we can hope for, then heaven help us.

Comment by steve 09.28.09 @ 8:03 am

Curious? I haven’t seen J Sheard’s name mentioned yet. He played his worst game that I have seen him play. He did not keep contain all game. NCSt converts 4 and ~16 because Sheard over pursued and Russel ran around his side for the big pick up. The coaches pulled him a couple of times to address this. After that he played very tentative.

Comment by Sad Dad 09.28.09 @ 3:39 pm

To those writing Stull was “decent” or he put up “31 points” so he played OK. The defense didn’t play well, that’s obvious, but sometimes you need one side of the ball to bail out the other. If you look at NC State, they same could be said. Their defense didn’t play well at all, bu they got bailed out by their offense. I’ll write this again, Bill Stull is a liability. When the player touching the ball on every play has trouble making quick decisions, isn’t an accurate passer and has problems throwing timing routes beyond 10 yards, you are going to lose to teams with better quarterbacks if everything else is basically a wash. Completing dinks and dunks and a few slants and missing several other big plays isn’t a good game. And as for the praise for the play calling, if you remember, they really started to sputter on offense when they started to throw on first down and give Stull some chances to go beyond a screen or a quick out. He simply has trouble making plays downfield and making quick decisions. A typical play was the second down play from the 7 at the end of the game. He had the receiver right away, instead he waited an extra second, thew low and the receiver caught the ball for a loss.

The comments on defense I echo completely. The secondary is bad, but who could be a decent replacement?

Comment by matt nyc 09.28.09 @ 7:24 pm

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